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Hot Off The Press: The Latest TV News and Information - Page 2846

post #85351 of 93699
Nielsen Overnights (18-49)
‘Family’ outdraws ‘Idol’ for the first time
ABC comedy averages a 3.9 in 18-49s, top show of night
By Toni Fitzgerald, Media Life Magazine - Feb. 26, 2013

For the first time ever on a Wednesday night, “Modern Family” drew a better rating than “American Idol.”

“Idol” slid to a performance episode season low last night, averaging a 3.8 adults 18-49 rating from 8 to 10 p.m., according to Nielsen overnights.

“Family” was slightly ahead at 3.9, though Fox notes that “Idol” will probably increase by a tenth when final ratings come out later today.

In their shared 9 p.m. timeslot, “Idol” and “Family” actually tied, with each averaging a 3.9. But “Idol” airs over two hours, and its first drew a 3.7, pulling down its overall rating.

Both programs actually declined from last week, with “Idol” falling by 7 percent and “Family” off 3 percent on the final night of the February sweeps.

It was the lowest-rated performance episode of “Idol” since season one. Even so, Fox still won the night by a wide margin.

Elsewhere last night, NBC’s “Chicago Fire” finished ahead of veteran CBS procedural “CSI” for the first time, drawing a 1.9 to the latter’s 1.8 and winning the 10 p.m. timeslot.

Also in the hour, ABC’s “Nashville” dipped to a series-low 1.6, though lead-in “Suburgatory” was up 15 percent week to week to a 2.3.

Fox led the night among 18-49s with a 3.8 average overnight rating and an 11 share. CBS was second at 2.4/6, ABC third at 2.2/6, Univision fourth at 1.7/5, NBC fifth at 1.6/4, CW sixth at 0.9/3 and Telemundo seventh at 0.7/2.

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

At 8 p.m. Fox was first with a 3.7 for “Idol,” followed by CBS with a 2.6 for “Survivor.” Univision was third with a 2.0 for “Por Ella Soy Eva,” ABC fourth with a 1.9 for “The Middle” (2.1) and “The Neighbors” (1.7), NBC fifth with a 1.2 for “Whitney” (1.2) and “Guys With Kids” (1.1), CW sixth with a 1.0 for “Arrow” and Telemundo seventh with a 0.5 for “Pasion Prohibida.”

Fox finished first again at 9 p.m. with a 4.0 for more “Idol,” while ABC moved to second with a 3.1 for “Family” (3.9) and “Suburgatory” (2.3). CBS was third with a 2.6 for “Criminal Minds,” Univision fourth with a 1.8 for “Amores Verdaderos,” NBC fifth with a 1.6 for “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” Telemundo sixth with a 1.0 for “La Patrona” and CW seventh with a 0.9 for “Supernatural.”

NBC took the lead at 10 p.m. with a 1.9 for “Fire,” with CBS second with a 1.8 for “CSI.” ABC was third with a 1.6 for “Nashville,” Univision fourth with a 1.4 for “Amor Bravio” and Telemundo fifth with a 0.6 for “El Rostro de la Venganza.”

Fox was also first for the night among households with a 7.9 average overnight rating and a 12 share. CBS was second at 6.3/10, ABC third at 4.4/7, NBC fourth at 3.5/5, Univision fifth at 2.0/3, CW sixth at 1.7/3 and Telemundo seventh at 0.8/1.

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TV Notes
CW’s ’90210′ Cancelled After Five Seasons
By Nellie Andreeva, Deadline.com - Feb. 28, 2013

The current fifth season of 90210 will be its last. The CW series has been doing very poorly in the ratings this season in its Monday slot, especially this midseason when it has been paired with The Carrie Diaries. February 18, 90210 drew just 500,000 viewers. Now the series’ May 13 season finale will also be a series finale. Seven episodes remain. “The CW has had five great seasons with America’s favorite zip code, 90210,” CW President Mark Pedowitz said in a release announcing the move. “I’d like to thank the talented cast, producers, and crew for all their hard work and dedication to the series. We are very proud of the West Beverly High alumni.”

At the TCAs in January, Pedowitz suggested that 90210 could return, possibly for a final hurrah. “I am a big believer in giving fans a very satisfactory conclusion,” he said. “It’s something that we as a television industry need to do.” But, after some dismal ratings performances this month, such a closure turned out not to be in the cards for the reboot of the hit Fox series. Still, the early cancellation allows the producers to tweak storylines and give the fans some closure with the finale. CBS TV Studios produced 90210 with executive producers Patti Carr and Lara Olsen.

post #85353 of 93699
Originally Posted by dad1153 View Post

Business Notes
Legal battle between Cablevision and Viacom could rattle TV business

It would seem to me the cable companies would have a better argument against the providers if they argued that the requirement that channels be on the basic lineup is a form of coercion and infringes on their right to set prices on the channels as they see fit.
Edited by dotheDVDeed - 2/28/13 at 10:08pm
post #85354 of 93699
Nielsen Notes (Cable)
'Duck Dynasty' Premiere Draws Record Numbers for A&E
By Nellie Andreeva, Deadline.com - Feb. 28, 2013

"Duck Dynasty" night not be for everyone (we're looking in your direction, Morrissey), but it clearly has its fans. Lots of them.

The Season 3 premiere of the A&E reality series -- which follows the hillbilly shenanigans of the Robertson family, which made its fortune making duck calls -- on Wednesday night was the network's most-watched and best-rated telecast on record, drawing 8.6 million total viewers.

The network aired back-to-back episodes of the series, with the first episode grabbing 8.6 million total viewers, with five million of them in the key 18-49 demographic. The show averaged those numbers throughout the hour.

The network's previous ratings and viewership record belongs to -- uh-huh -- the season finale of the series in December, which drew 6.5 million total viewers, with 3.9 million of them in the key demo.

Compared to the Season 2 premiere, Wednesday night's "Duck Dynasty" premiere jumped by 132 percent in total viewers and 127 percent in the demo.

post #85355 of 93699
Legal/Business Notes
ESPN Ordered to Pay Dish Network $4.86 Million for Breach of Contract
By Eriq Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter's 'Hollywood, Esq.' Blog - Feb. 28, 2013

After a day of deliberation, a federal jury gave a mixed verdict in Dish Network's lawsuit against ESPN for allegedly breaching the terms of a 2005 licensing agreement. Dish has been awarded $4.86 million after prevailing in one of its four breach-of-contract claims.

The satcaster spent nearly three weeks in a New York federal courtroom attempting to prove that ESPN had violated a "most favored nation" clause in an eight-year licensing agreement. The contractual provision entitled Dish to be given the opportunity to receive equal treatment on subscriber rates and packaging conditions when ESPN gave Dish's competitors better deals.

Specifically, Dish accused ESPN of allowing Comcast to remove packaging requirements that allowed ESPN Classic to be distributed beyond its most widely distributed tier; of allowing DirecTV, Verizon and Time Warner Cable to have lower subscription rates on ESPN Deportes; and allowing others a la carte rights on ESPNHD, ESPN Classic, ESPNU and ESPN2.

Additionally, Dish brought a fourth breach-of-contract claim against ESPN for granting Time Warner Cable the ability to distribute its networks on the Internet without imposing a subscription fee.

Dish had alleged that the damages added up to more than $150 million, but the jury said that a lot less was due in order to make the satellite distributor whole. Dish won only the claim over ESPN Deportes. Under its original agreement, Dish was obligated to pay a monthly subscriber fee of 35-47 cents for ESPN Deportes between 2007 and 2013, but then TWC got a deal for 8-18 cents and Verizon got a deal for 3 cents.

The trial was marked by intense detail of contracts that typically are closely guarded secrets.

At trial, Dish presented ESPN as being careless when it came to looking after its contractual obligations and not promptly making "MFN" offers when they were due. Dish also showcased internal ESPN emails that calculated how licensing negotiations with other MVPDs impacted the money that was owed to Dish and how to "finesse" the obligations for financial advantage.

On the witness stand, ESPN's executives denied that Dish was robbed of the benefit of making its 2005 agreement and made the case that calculating "MNF" offers was complicated and took time. The ESPN execs said offers eventually were made to Dish and that the company was credited with the benefit retroactively.

Dish's current carriage deal with ESPN expires in September.

Dish was represented by lead lawyer Barry Ostrager at Simpson Thacher. ESPN was represented by Diane Sullivan at Weil, Gotshal & Manges.

ESPN said in a statement, "We are gratified that the jury rejected all but one of Dish’s claims and all but $4.8 million of the more than $153 million in damages they were seeking.“

Dish has also put out a statement from its general counsel Stanton Dodge, saying the company would "remain vigilant in our efforts to ensure that programmers honor their contractual commitments."

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

8PM - Last Man Standing
8:30PM - Malibu County
9PM - Shark Tank
10PM - 20/20
* * * *
11:35PM - Jimmy Kimmel Live! (This Week)
12:35AM - Nightline

8PM - Undercover Boss: Modell's Sporting Goods
(R - Nov. 2)
9PM - Blue Bloods
(R - Nov. 18)
10PM - Blue Bloods
(R - Feb. 24, 2012)
* * * *
11:35PM - Late Show with David Letterman (Jerry Seinfeld; musician Dave Grohl; Sound City Players perform with Stevie Nicks)
(R - Feb. 14)
12:37AM - Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (Musician Trace Adkins; Naya Rivera)

8PM - Dateline NBC (120 min.)
10PM - Rock Center with Brian Williams
* * * *
11:35PM - The Tonight Show With Jay Leno (Bill O'Reilly; Abigail Breslin; The Mavericks perform)
12:37AM - Late Night With Jimmy Fallon (Mariah Carey; comic Billy Eichner; Prince performs)
1:36AM - Last Call with Carson Daly (Chef Tom Colicchio; The Dinner Party Download; Walk the Moon perform)

8PM - Kitchen Nightmares
9PM - Touch

(check your local listing for starting time/programming)
8PM - Washington Week
8:30PM - Need to Know
9PM - Women Who Rock
(R - Nov. 18)
10PM - Sound Tracks: Music Without Borders 2
(R - Oct. 5)

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

8PM - Nikita
9PM - The Vampire Diaries
(R - Feb. 21)

8PM - Pasión Prohibida
9PM - La Patrona
10PM - El Rostro de La Venganza

10PM - Real Time with Bill Maher (Cybersecurity expert James Lyne; musician Snoop Lion; finance expert Monica Mehta; Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.); political strategist Steve Schmidt)

11PM - Chelsea Lately (The cast of After Lately; John Caparulo; Loni Love; Gary Valentine)

Edited by dad1153 - 3/1/13 at 1:27am
post #85357 of 93699
Critic's Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - Mar. 1, 2013

TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

Charlie Chaplin became an international film superstar by keeping silent (the movies forced him to, at first), and by portraying a sweet soul constantly at odds with a cold, cruel world. But in the sound era, later in his career, Chaplin played a much more vocal and venomous type. As the title character in this dark comedy from 1947, he plays a man who woos and marries wealthy women, with the aim of doing away with them afterward. That aim rings true at first – but not always. Co-stars in this delightfully twisted character study include Mady Corell, Audrey Betz and, believe it or not, Martha Raye.

The Movie Channel, 8:00 p.m. ET

John Goodman didn’t win a Supporting Actor Oscar for his terrific work in Argo, but he was great there. He’s great here, too, in another supporting role that threatens to steal the film from even the other fine actors sharing the screen. (Come to think of it, Goodman just did the same thing in Flight, as well.) And in this 1998 movie, Goodman is sharing the screen with Jeff Bridges and Steve Buscemi, so calling Goodman a scene-stealer in Lebowski is a compliment of the highest order.

FX, 10:00 p.m. ET

Episode five of The Americans, which just aired the other day on FX, vaulted this new series to a higher level, with a plot that plays off the real-life attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan. The show has matured, and quickly, and FX clearly recognizes that fact. Tonight at 10 p.m. ET, the network is presenting a marathon of all five episodes to date – encouraging viewers to catch up, and jump aboard, in one Friday night mini-marathon. I encourage you to do the same thing. Keri Russell stars.

HBO, 10:00 p.m. ET

Bill Maher is going to take to the air just as we learn whether Congress and the White House managed to come to a last-minute compromise to avoid preordained budget cuts – or, once again, failed to cooperate and compromise, and thus failed to act. One of Maher’s guests tonight, fittingly, is someone who’s not afraid to flip-flop. He’s the hip-hop artist known as Snoop Lion – who, not too long ago, was the Artist Formerly Known as Snoop Dogg. I’m not Lion.

IFC, 10:00 p.m. ET
The final episode of this season has a plot which threatens to plunge the entire town into a blackout. So pay close attention – the problem, if you see one (or fail to), may not be with your set. And remember: the same was true of the finale of The Sopranos.

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TV Sports
That new $2, $3 fee on cable bill? Sports the culprit
By Michael Hiestand, USA Today - Feb. 28, 2013

There's a new wrinkle in the long-running blame game between pay-TV providers and programmers over the rising costs of TV sports. Some consumers now see separate $2-$3 charges, specifically tied to sports, on their monthly TV bills.

At least three pay-TV service providers -- DirecTV, Cablevision and Verizon -- have done that so far. DirecTV, the first to do so, says in a statement that its $3 monthly fee in select areas is meant to help offset the "skyrocketing costs of sports."

Indeed, those costs have skyrocketed. But that's only one of many nagging problems facing the distributors who bill you for TV.

Consider so-called cord cutters -- viewers, especially younger ones, who rely on their laptops for video rather than paying for any kind of TV. A recent Federal Communications Commission report found that online video consumption per viewer rose from 16 hours monthly to 21 hours monthly between May 2011 and May 2012.

Robert Thompson, professor of television and popular culture at Syracuse, says he sees students who used to get cable or satellite when they lived at home not signing up for that.

"The thought of getting cable is alien to them, just like the concept of even getting a TV set is becoming alien to them," Thompson says.

Then there's what to do about the broadcast networks' local stations, whose programming delivers most of the biggest events in sports. Those stations, says Derek Turner, research director at the Massachusetts-based Free Press consumer advocacy group, are arguably a bigger headache for pay TV distributors than rising sports costs.

"Their biggest problem is local broadcasters demanding increased payments from distributors to carry their signals," says Turner. "Operators can go without carrying most sports networks, but they can't get out of carrying local news."

New York-based research firm NPD Group estimates the average pay-TV bill could go from about $86 per month to $200 in 2020. That, of course, will depend on whether consumers continue to stomach price hikes.

"Right now, cable TV is like your electricity or water,'' Thompson says. " You just pay -- at least until you simply can't pay it any more."

Such defections are already happening, says Harold Feld, senior vice president for the Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group Public Knowledge -- a least a little bit.

"It used to be that cable operators just passed on costs and nobody really understood why," he says. But in recent years the sluggish economy made consumers more cost-conscience, "And cable operators finally became more conscious that their rate increases could cost them customers."

Another factor complicating cable operators' programming costs bubbled over this week when Cablevision filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against Comcast. It's the latest skirmish in a long squabble between cable/satellite operators and programmers over so-called bundling.

The idea there, contends Cablevision, is that programmers such as Comcast force operators to take a programming bundle -- including their less-popular channels -- as the way to carry popular channels. Operators say that reduces their ability to cut their costs -- and, just maybe, hold down your monthly bill -- because it reduces their freedom to quit paying for channels that don't draw many viewers.

Viacom, in a statement, counters that its practices have "been upheld by a number of federal courts."

If operators such as Cablevision win these legal challenges, suggests Neal Pilson, an ex-CBS Sports chief and now a TV consultant, it could have "more significance (on consumer bills) than any $3 sports fees. ... Those fees aren't much money. They won't make people stop paying their cable bills and will have no effect on TV sports rights fees."

Given their bigger issues, pay TV distributors trying to rile up consumers over $2-3 monthly sports fees might be small potatoes.

"What we've seen for years is a war of blame between TV networks and operators," Feld says. "But if you're a cable operator, what do you do? Not pay for sports? But then you might have 20-30% of your subscribers switch to a service that does. What operators have left is little shaming tactics like these little fees. It's them saying, 'Don't get mad at us. Get mad at somebody like ESPN.' ''

Says Paul Swangard, who oversees sports business studies at the University of Oregon: "I wouldn't characterize these new fees as particularly new or aggressive. It's just another jab at the source of cable operators' own costs in paying networks for sports. I'm not convinced many people will notice or care."

Dramatic rising costs: Cablevision, in a statement, says the "rising cost of programming has resulted in this sports surcharge."

Programmers, after paying more for TV sports rights pretty much since the invention of television, have seen those rights shoot upwards in recent years. Networks over the last two years have collectively committed at least $72 billion in new TV sports rights fees.

Some deals have been dramatic. ESPN's Monday Night Football, which used to cost $550 million annually as late as 2005, now costs $1.9 billion.

Huge TV deals are also happening locally -- at least in the USA's TV markets. The Los Angeles Dodgers recently signed a 25-year, $8 billion deal with Time Warner -- richest for a U.S. sports team.

TV programmers, like any manufacturer whose costs have gone up, try to pass along some of it to its retailers. Those retailers -- in this case, cable and satellite operators -- in turn try to raise fees on consumers.

Operators can try to tack on costs like the new TV sports fees, Turner says, given so-called below-the-line fees "have been a tried-and-true tactic" in pay TV for years. "Your final bill is always higher than the basic price advertised," he says.

Or, at least for consumers who bundle their TV, phone and digital services from one provider, operators might try to pass along the rising costs they pay for sports and other programming without calling attention to it. Turner says operators might try to cover those costs "by increasing fees on their broadband services."

ESPN behind some of this: TV networks and pay TV distributors are always squabbling over programming costs. Even the almighty NFL had to dicker with some big cable operators for years to get them to carry the league's NFL Network.

Then there's ESPN, the Daddy Warbucks of pay TV.

Disney's ESPN, according to the Charlottesville, Va.-based research firm SNL Kagan, charges cable operators by far the industry's highest fees -- $5.13 per month. Virtually all other channels charge less than $1 monthly, such as CNN (57 cents) and MTV (39 cents). And ESPN insists operators carry the channel on basic cable -- so they can't recoup their costs by putting it on a pay tier.

Still, an annual survey from the Long Island, N.Y.-based Beta Research firm released this week shows operators named ESPN as the cable network with the most "perceived value" -- for the 13th consecutive year.

All sports channels argue that sports pays off for distributors by helping them reach the young male viewers that advertisers covet. And, as more viewers watch TV shows via DVRs and skip through the commercials, sports is mostly watched live -- meaning viewers have to sit through the ads.

TV networks say they're helping cable/satellite operators by requiring viewers to use so-called viewer authentication, which next month will be used for the first time on CBS/Turner Sports' NCAA basketball tournament coverage. That means viewers have to identify themselves as pay-TV subscribers to see the live video -- with non-subscribers left out.

Thompson says people who even notice the new $2-3 sports fees "will roll their eyes and pay those kind of fees -- but, presumably, only up to a point."

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Critic's Notes
The Best Sitcom of the Past 30 Years, Round One: Friends vs. The Golden Girls
By Willa Paskin, Vulture.com (New York Magazine) - Feb. 28, 2013

Vulture is holding the ultimate Sitcom Smackdown to determine the greatest TV comedy of the past 30 years. Each day, a different notable writer will be charged with determining the winner of a round of the bracket, until New York Magazine TV critic Matt Zoller Seitz judges the finals on March 18. Today's battle: Salon TV critic Willa Paskin judges Friends versus The Golden Girls. Make sure to head over to Facebook to vote in our Readers Bracket. We also invite tweeted opinions with the #sitcomsmackdown hashtag.

The Golden Girls was one of the first grown-up TV shows that I remember. My grandmother was a fan, and I watched with her in a room with a color scheme Blanche Devereaux would have admired (coral, and then more coral) in a Florida apartment not far from where Blanche and her three roommates lived. As a result, I’ve always had a great fondness for the show; I’ve hummed its theme song, admired its influence (forget all the Sex and the City copycats; Sex and the City is a Golden Girls copycat) and the still remarkable fact that it was a hit starring three women in their 60s.

In the meantime, I’ve seen every episode of Friends at least twice, and to this day —like, actually, yesterday — would rather watch its re-reruns than almost anything else on TV. I am inclined to think there are three kinds of people in the world (or four, if I have to grant that there are some who have never even seen Friends): those who prefer Friends, those who prefer Seinfeld, and those who prefer Seinfeld and want to tell you that’s because Friends is hackneyed and lame and therefore contemptible. It is those people to whom I have pledged my eternal eye-roll and the energy to always, always yell at them loudly at bars. Friends may be hugely popular and beloved by chicks but that does not make it bad (it just makes it an easy target). Have the Friends detractors no lungs to laugh? Have they not watched Monica dance with a turkey on her head? Marveled at Joey lunging while wearing all of Chandler’s pants? Heard, and never forgotten, that soulmates are really just like lobsters?

So I assumed that Friends would win easily. But after re-watching The Golden Girls, the competition tightened up. Since Friends ended its ten-season run in 2004, audiences have been treated to/tortured by one clone after another. (The treats are the British Coupling and Happy Endings, and that’s it). But before we lived in a world where there were dozens of shows just like Friends, there was Friends, which was a show sort of like The Golden Girls. The latter finished its seven seasons in 1992, just two years before Friends began. Based solely on the clothes, you would think they had been separated by a decade, but they do share a major theme: What happens when a group of strangers, a few with blood ties, devote their lives to one another and become family, not because they have to, but because they want to. Golden Girls’ theme song “Thank You For Being a Friend” might as well be the Friends theme (though then The Rembrandts would not have gotten to be the answer to a trivia question).

The Golden Girls was created by Susan Harris, who had worked with Norman Lear and Bea Arthur on Maude, and GG existed in that Lear-influenced TV era when sitcoms still believed in the teachable moment and in taking on social issues. This was a tradition that Friends did as much as any sitcom to annihilate, choosing instead to address hot-button topics in a glancing, casually liberal way, if at all. (Golden Girls dedicated a very special episode to Dorothy’s lesbian friend coming to visit and falling for Rose; on Friends the fact that Ross’s ex-wife is a lesbian, with whom he has a son, is just a recurring plot point.) Of course, the most teachable moment turned out to be the entire show: Yes, you can create a hit sitcom out of middle-aged women — a conceit that continues to be revolutionary. TV not only ignores this demo on screen, they don’t even care what they watch; truly, their eyeballs and wallets do not count.

And yet roughly 18 million viewers tuned in weekly to watch the withering Dorothy (Arthur), her sassy mother Sofia (Estelle Getty), the ditzy, sweet Rose (Betty White), and the lascivious Blanche (Rue McClanahan). This was an active foursome, engaged with the world, each other, their jobs, families, men, and sex — which all of them, not just boy-crazy Blanche, had. (Blissfully no one makes jokes about cougars, plastic surgery or Viagra.) They hang out, they eat — something TV characters increasingly do not do, unless they’re zombies — they cook, they watch TV, they laugh, and in the middle they have heavy, tossed-off, wonderfully written conversations like the one below, where Blanche casually shares the story of her husband’s death.

Golden Girls can feel dated: The pacing is slow, the laugh track intrusive, and some of the jokes barely land. But if you’ve never watched an episode, you might be surprised by its edge. The humor is sardonic, consistently funny, and often biting, particularly when they bicker. Dorothy, Blanche, Rose and Sofia are unkind to one another in the way you can only be to the people who really love you: In other words, realistically. Blanche and Dorothy’s favorite thing to do is to wind up the Amelia Bedelia-esque Rose, then laugh at her behind her back. Dorothy smacks Rose upside the head with books. Sofia, the adult-turned-foul mouthed child, exists to level scathing insults. In one episode, Blanche is sexually harassed by her teacher. Substitute teacher Dorothy counsels her to report it, drawing from her own experiences, but when Blanche tries to update her roommates on the situation, they ignore her, too focused on getting tickets to a Frank Sinatra concert to let her get a word in edgewise.

Memorably, the women go to therapy together because they’ve been fighting non-stop. Blanche is accused of selfishness, Rose of being annoying, and Dorothy of being impossibly competent. “Dorothy cannot be blamed for being capable,” the shrink says. “She doesn’t have to lord it over us!” Rose counters. But competence is an extremely generous term for Dorothy’s manner. She is fierce and imperious and scary as hell; she calls her friends dumb and finds everything they do exasperating. She is — and I think Dorothy would have long since re-appropriated this term — a bitch, albeit a well-meaning, emotionally generous one. She and her roommates are the ancestors of all the lost, flibbertigibbet twentysomethings on TV right now (New Girl’s Jess Day = Rose Nylund) who are supposed to be so radical because they are occasionally unlikeable. Dorothy was doing unlikeable first and she, at least, had her **** together while she did so. And she was usually right.

There is a Dorothy-like character on Friends — a woman of the same generation who is almost diarrheatically judgmental: Monica and Ross’s mother Judy. In the season-one episode, “The One Where Nana Dies Twice,” Judy complains about her mother after her funeral: “Do you know what it’s like to grow up with someone who is critical of every single thing you say?” The joke is that of course Monica knows; that’s what Judy does to her. Monica asks her mother if she ever wishes she had told Nana how that felt. Judy considers this, and with an inkling of where her daughter is headed, replies, “No, I think some things are better left unsaid. I think it’s nicer when people just get along.” And then she reaches over, intending to insult Monica’s hair, but catches herself and compliments her earrings instead.
Dorothy, who believes nothing is better left unsaid, would have just insulted her hair. She never caves in to a pleasantry, but Friends always does. There is very little bite to Friends; the characters snip and snipe, but gently, and they always make up by the end of the episode. There would never be a need for them to go to therapy together. It’s this preference for amiability that can bug people: It’s a vanilla sitcom. In fact, praising Friends feels a lot like praising vanilla ice cream— something that I don’t do because it’s banal and chocolate is better. But at the same time, I can’t deny that a really great vanilla ice cream is the platonic ideal. Whatever else we may like or want in our ice cream, vanilla is the purest expression of the form — and so it is with Friends.

The best sitcoms are as much about the casting as the writing, and in this respect Friends was perfect: Jennifer Aniston as Rachel and Courteney Cox as her roommate Monica; Matt LeBlanc as Joey and Matthew Perry as Chandler, the neighbors across the hall; David Schwimmer as Monica’s brother Ross; and Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe. None of them could be played by anyone else. (This is why it’s funny to imagine Cox as Rachel; she was given the choice of roles during casting.) And here’s where Friends distinguished itself in a way that Golden Girls did not. If you think of Dorothy as the quintessential Golden Girl, and Rachel as the quintessential Friend, the thing that differentiates Rachel (like the thing that differentiates Mary Richards or Lucy Ricardo) is that at some point, unlike everyone else around her, she ceased to be defined by her idiosyncrasies. Much as I love each character on both shows, to the very end Phoebe was the space cadet who sang “Smelly Cat,” Monica the control freak, Joey the loveable dummy (he, of course, is the Rose Nylund of Friends), Chandler the sarcastic guy, Ross the spazzy paleontologist, Dorothy the abrasive critic, Blanche the oversexed Southern belle, and Sofia the tiny, wise-cracking Italian. Only Rachel was a whole person, not a type. Jennifer Aniston may have done too many bad movies for you to remember how great she is on Friends, but she took a ditz with a nose job and made her so much more than her quirks. It is one of the all time great, effortless-seeming comedic performances.

Excluding the misguided Joey-Rachel arc, Friends was lovely and hilarious and enjoyable and so, so satisfying because the friendships were relatable (even if they all lived in absurdly large New York apartments that they couldn’t possibly afford). It could be simplistic and formulaic, but the show’s sharp writers and even sharper cast accomplished the hardest thing of all: They made a really funny sitcom for ten years, and they made making a really funny sitcom look easy. When the show ended, Time’s James Poniewozik wrote that unlike most other great sitcoms, Friends “is simply about being a pleasant sitcom.” I think this is true, but I would amend it to say that Friends was simply about being a pleasure. Look around. There are hardly any of those on your television right now, and a whole lot more shows that, in trying to be like Friends, and in failing to be anywhere near as good, burnish it.

Golden Girls is funny and prickly and because we live in a world that is sexist and ageist it is also rare and remarkable: You should go watch the hell out of it. But give me a remote control and a choice and Friends is the one I want to see. Some will continue to downgrade it because the show is easy, because it is simple, because it doesn’t make you work to love it, and that makes it feel like it might not be worth respecting, but it’s not going to be me. Another way to put it: Friends is a show that Rose and Blanche would have curled up on the sofa to watch together, and they would have laughed and laughed, having reached a time in their lives when they know a good thing when they see it.


Willa Paskin is the TV critic at Salon.com. She is a Dorothy.

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TV Notes
A silent show for 'Switched at Birth'
By Rob Owen, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Mar. 1, 2013

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. -- Watching actors film ABC Family's "Switched at Birth" is unlike a visit to the set of any other TV show. Even as filming on a scene goes on, deaf extras who communicate using American Sign Language continue to converse with one another without making a sound once they are off camera.

No matter how quickly their hands move, they don't create enough noise to disrupt a take, something even the quietest whisper might accomplish.

It's a small but notable detail that pops out during a January visit to the set of this quality family drama that's also a ratings hit. "Switched at Birth" ranked as the No. 1 scripted cable drama Monday among female viewers ages 12-24, 18-34 and 18-49.

The show's initial hook was that two teenage girls -- Daphne (Katie Leclerc) and Bay (Vanessa Marano) -- discover they were switched at birth and placed with the wrong families. Daphne is deaf; Bay is not.

Since the pilot aired a year ago, "Switched at Birth" (8 p.m. Mondays) has improved in its storytelling, broadening beyond the two families into an exploration of the characters' lives and deaf culture.

While it's not unusual for the series to have scenes of deaf characters communicating in silence with subtitles on screen, next week's episode takes it to a new level. After a brief opening scene with dialogue, the rest of the episode is presented with subtitles and characters communicating in ASL.

Ms. Leclerc is hard of hearing (she has degenerative hearing loss), and several other cast members who play deaf characters are deaf, including Oscar winner Marlee Matlin ("Children of a Lesser God"), Sean Berdy and Ryan Lane.

This week's episode, which featured the scenes in production that cold but sunny January day, included a scene where teacher Melody (Ms. Matlin) asks Travis (Mr. Lane) to stay after class at Carlton, a Kansas school for "deafie" students that has accepted a few "hearies," as the teen characters on the show refer to themselves.

As Travis sits and Melody encourages him to apply for college at Washington, D.C.'s Gallaudet University, deaf extras playing students file out of the classroom set but continue communicating with one another in ASL as the scene progresses under the direction of Joanna Kerns. (She played the mom on "Growing Pains" before becoming a director.)

Executive producer Paul Stupin ("Dawson's Creek," "Make It or Break It") said an ASL expert on set ensures all signing is being done correctly and translators are present to translate the director's instructions to deaf cast members.

One of the challenges for producers in the show's editing is squeezing in subtitles at a speed that's not too fast for viewers.

"The subtitles can't keep up with the hands," Ms. Matlin said through an ASL interpreter. "You can't read as fast as you can sign. They said, 'Slow down your signing.' This is the speed we're accustomed to, but you have to think about what's happening on a television screen."

For non-deaf actors who are just learning sign language "Switched at Birth" offers a new acting challenge: Not only must they memorize spoken dialogue but also the signing that accompanies it.

"Speaking with ASL and vocalizing it is not an easy feat to pull off," Mr. Stupin said. "The syntax of ASL is completely different than the way a sentence is spoken verbally. It's almost as if you're speaking two languages at the same time when you see verbal characters who can sign on the show speaking."

Actress Constance Marie, who plays the bio mom of Bay (but raised Daphne), said the early days of acting on the show were especially challenging.

"I had to be believable because honestly a show where main characters are deaf was only going to get one shot, and I had to make sure I wasn't the thing that made it flawed," she said. "One of the most daunting things is you have these emotional scenes and you're feeling it and not thinking about the words. But if you have to think about the words and your hands and you're crying and then they stop you and say, 'That sign was not right,' and then you have to do it over again."

In next week's all-ASL episode, Carlton's deaf students protest the school board's decision to close the school, taking a page from a real-life protest for a deaf president at Washington, D.C.'s Gallaudet University 25 years ago this month. The show's winter season finale March 11 will resolve the fate of Carlton.

Series creator Lizzy Weiss, who wrote next week's episode, said the show's writers have always toyed with the notion of an all-ASL episode but never proposed it for fear of network executives' reactions. But it was those same executives who suggested the idea to Ms. Weiss.

"It's an experiment," she acknowledged. "We're excited to see what happens."

Ms. Weiss came up with the idea for the series when she was pregnant and heard a public radio story about two women who discovered in their 50s that they were switched at birth. ABC Family wanted to make the show more complex, and Ms. Weiss, who had taken an ASL class her freshman year in college, suggested making one of the girls deaf.

"Because I am not in the [deaf] culture -- I am not the daughter of a deaf person, a parent of, a wife of -- I don't have an agenda," Ms. Weiss said. "My responsibility is to be honest, not be [politically correct]. That's boring. I don't want to be too treacly, I don't want to be too preachy."

For Ms. Matlin, "Switched at Birth" has been a new experience: She's no longer the only deaf person on set as she was in most of her TV and film roles.

"I hate it that I'm not the only one," she said through as ASL interpreter before vocalizing, "I'm just kidding!"

But it has taken some getting used to.

"It's almost like being the only most well-known deaf person in the world, but at this point I'm not anymore, and I don't necessarily want to be the only one acting," she said through an interpreter.

"I used to be able to talk about people [without them knowing], and I can't anymore," she said, laughing. "I love working with every single cast member, but when me and Sean or me and Ryan or me and Katie are in a scene together, it's so natural for me. There's no communication barrier, no trying to figure out what someone intends. It's our natural language and culture."

She sees "Switched at Birth" as a piece of entertainment that's as groundbreaking for TV as "Children of a Lesser God" was for film.

"I thought, all these years of doing television and I've never seen such a phenomenal reception from having a deaf character in a show, not just telling stories about deaf victims but actually deaf story lines looking at the culture and the language," she said. "It's a fascinating aspect you've never seen on television before, combined with good writing and good acting. It's just something I'm really proud to be a part of."

Ms. Matlin said growing up in an era before closed captioning, she often watched action shows like "The Streets of San Francisco" that were easier to understand. She remembers "Three's Company" in the early 1980s as the first show she watched with closed captioning. She credits "Three's Company" star John Ritter with pushing ABC to add closed captioning to its prime-time shows in that era.

"Now everything is in closed captioned, and you guys at the bar and gyms can also understand what's going on," she signed, before smiling to a group of reporters and adding, "You're welcome."

Renewals, ratings, bumps

TBS renewed reality competition "King of the Nerds" for an eight-episode second season to air in early 2014, and TLC ordered a second season of "Breaking Amish" to air in May.

"Archer" will be back for a 13-episode fifth season on FX, and Syfy renewed its drama "Lost Girl" for a 13-episode fourth season to air in 2014.

No renewal announcement yet for Syfy's "Robot Combat League," but it might come if its ratings hold up. The show premiered Friday with 1.3 million viewers and the network's best unscripted series premiere in more than two years among viewers ages 18-49.

And in a precursor to cancellation, The CW announced after two low-rated episodes it will move its midseason drama "Cult" from Tuesday nights to 9 p.m. Friday next week. Reruns of more successful CW series will fill the 9 p.m. Tuesday time slot. Late Thursday The CW announced that "90210" will end this year with its fifth season finale on May 13.

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The Walking Dead: Will Lennie James' Morgan Character Ever Return?

Access Hollywood – 12 hours ago
It was British actor Lennie James who played Morgan in Season 1 of "The Walking Dead," the newly-single father (his wife had become a walker), who helped a fresh-out-of-his-coma Rick Grimes figure out what was going on in the post-apocalyptic zombie-infested world.

Morgan was one character who didn't pass away at the hands of a flesh eating zombie, so when Access Hollywood spotted the actor who plays him, backstage in the gift lounge at the Independent Spirit Awards last weekend, we had to ask if he'll be back on the AMC show.

"Keep watching 'The Walking Dead,'" Lennie quipped when we asked if the rumors are true - that Morgan will return.

Asked if he went to Atlanta at all (where the show is filmed), Lennie again played coy, repeating his prior sentence -- "Keep watching 'The Walking Dead.'"

A few weeks ago, "TWD" creator Robert Kirkman also dodged the question when Access asked him at the "An Evening with The Walking Dead" event, presented by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in North Hollywood.

"I don't know where you would have heard that. I can neither confirm nor deny such things," he told Access.

"I can say he's definitely not, not going to come back, but, you know, if he's coming back, I don't know, I don't know, you'll just have to watch," he said, with a laugh.

Fans will have to - as Lennie and Robert both said - keep watching to see if Morgan (and his son) will return to the show.

But, over the weekend, the British actor did tell Access that filming Season 1 was a dreamy experience, one he would have no problem repeating.

"I loved it and part of the reason why I loved it, it was... not to be too pretentious about it, but it was like a dream come true," he told Access. "I got to work with [Season 1 showrunner, who developed 'TWD' for AMC] Frank Darabont. He made one of my favorite films of all time and he's a great guy to work with and we had an hour and a half which felt like a movie, and it wasn't a huge amount of people apart from the zombies.

"It was me and Andrew Lincoln for most of it," he said. "It was gorgeous, I loved it and if I get the chance to come back, I would."

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The Walking Dead To Begin Production On Season 4 This May

Access Hollywood – Wed, Feb 27, 2013 11:32 AM PST

AMC announced that the zombie apocalypse drama will begin production on May 6 in Atlanta, Ga.

The network also confirmed news fans already know - Scott M. Gimple is the new showrunner and an executive producer of Season 4.

"Scott has been an essential part of this show since he came aboard at the very beginning of season two. He's contributed to guiding this show in a substantial way that has resulted in a lot of the key scenes and storylines fans have dubbed signature moments of 'The Walking Dead,'" creator Robert Kirkman said in a release. "I am thrilled to begin work on a brand new season of 'The Walking Dead' with Scott at the helm, and I truly believe we could be embarking on what will be the best season of this show yet."

The new showrunner, who takes over for Glen Mazzara, said he is excited to get started.

"I'm thrilled to continue the tradition of the spectacular, cinematic, horrifying, exciting and emotional storytelling of 'The Walking Dead,'" Gimple said in a release. "I'm a huge fan of the comics, and started with the show on the other side of the set, as an avid viewer. Over the past two years, it's been an incredible privilege making such great television with the best cast and crew I've ever worked with - I can't wait to make some more."

Zombie master Greg Nicotero has also been given a promotion to executive producer alongside Tom Luse.

post #85363 of 93699
Originally Posted by dad1153 View Post

Critic's Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - Mar. 1, 2013

TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

Charlie Chaplin became an international film superstar by keeping silent (the movies forced him to, at first), and by portraying a sweet soul constantly at odds with a cold, cruel world. But in the sound era, later in his career, Chaplin played a much more vocal and venomous type. As the title character in this dark comedy from 1947, he plays a man who woos and marries wealthy women, with the aim of doing away with them afterward. That aim rings true at first – but not always. Co-stars in this delightfully twisted character study include Mady Corell, Audrey Betz and, believe it or not, Martha Raye.


This is a great movie. I highly recommend it to anyone who has never seen it.
post #85364 of 93699
Originally Posted by dad1153 View Post

TV Sports
That new $2, $3 fee on cable bill? Sports the culprit
By Michael Hiestand, USA Today - Feb. 28, 2013

There's a new wrinkle in the long-running blame game between pay-TV providers and programmers over the rising costs of TV sports. Some consumers now see separate $2-$3 charges, specifically tied to sports, on their monthly TV bills.

There was a major mistake in this story when it said that Cablevision sued Comcast when in fact they sued Viacom.

But anyway, I think these fees will cause more cord cutting or trimming. Someone who doesn't watch sports is going to call and say I don't watch sports so take away the charge and the sports channels, how is the provider going to react to that? Personally the only reason I have cable is for local sports. If I lived out of market for my teams or didn't watch sports I would have broadcast basic and get all of the cable shows and movies I wanted online. I could buy a package to get my team's games out of market and It would be a much better and cheaper option.
post #85365 of 93699
Originally Posted by dad1153 View Post

(quoting "Critic's Notes" by Willa Paskin in New York Magazine)

What happens when a group of strangers, a few with blood ties, devote their lives to one another and become family, not because they have to, but because they want to.
More recently than "The Golden Girls" but longer ago than "Friends," the same applied to "Living Single."  That show even included the obligatory pair of relatives in the core cast, as did "The Golden Girls" and as would "Friends," "For Your Love," "Perfect Couples," "Happy Endings," and so on.
post #85366 of 93699
Guys, so what's the consensus when it comes to Brilliant Color? Should we keep it ON or OFF when in Cinema Mode and completely dark, 100% light controlled room?

Sent from my Galaxy Nexus using Tapatalk 2
post #85367 of 93699
Originally Posted by ERuiz View Post

Guys, so what's the consensus when it comes to Brilliant Color? Should we keep it ON or OFF when in Cinema Mode and completely dark, 100% light controlled room?
Wrong thread, chief. I think you want the DISPLAYS section.
post #85368 of 93699
THURSDAY's fast affiliate overnight prime-time ratings -and what they mean- have been posted on Analyst Marc Berman's Media Insight's Blog
post #85369 of 93699
Speaking of sports....
today is the 1st day of spring (meteorologically for the weatherpeeps at least) which means so much spring sportstuff:

March 12 NFL free agency starts -- NFLN all day
April 17 (tentative) NFL 2013 schedule release show -- NFLN & ESPN
April 25 NFL Draft in NYC 1st round
April 26 2nd-3rd rounds
April 27 4th-7th rounds
May 20-22 NFL spring meetings -- rules changes, playoff changes ?, who gets Super Bowl L (we know its gonna be Santa Clara)
baseball starts
basketball playoffs
hockey playoffs
college bb tournament
horse racing triple crown (well 2 of 3 races)
the masters

& game of thrones is back !!

So much goodness. biggrin.gif
post #85370 of 93699
Nielsen Overnights (18-49)
Fox wins sleepy post-sweeps Thursday
'American Idol' dominates with a 3.8 in 18-49s against
By Toni Fitzgerald, Media Life Magazine - Mar. 1, 2013

It was pretty clear that the February sweeps came to a close on Wednesday.

On Thursday night, with only four original shows airing on the Big Five, Fox cruised to an easy victory over competition that consisted mostly of repeats.

“American Idol” averaged a 3.8 adults 18-49 rating from 8 to 10 p.m., according to Nielsen overnights, off 3 percent from last week.

It was the only program on broadcast to draw better than a 3.0 rating last night, with TV usage among 18-49s off 6 percent in primetime versus last week, when sweeps was still going on and the networks had all-original programming.

The night’s No. 2 show was a rerun of “The Big Bang Theory,” which averaged a 2.8.

Fox led the night among 18-49s with a 3.8 average overnight rating and an 11 share. CBS was second at 2.0/6, Univision third at 1.7/5, ABC and NBC tied for fourth at 0.9/3, Telemundo was sixth at 0.6/2 and CW seventh at 0.3/1.

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-seven percent of Nielsen households have DVRs.

At 8 p.m. Fox was first with a 3.6 for “Idol,” followed by CBS with a 2.5 for repeats of “Bang” and “Two and a Half Men.” Univision was third with a 1.7 for “Por Ella Soy Eva.” ABC and NBC tied for fourth at 1.0, ABC for “Zero Hour” and NBC for a new “Community” (1.1) and a repeat of “Parks and Recreation” (0.9). Telemundo was sixth with a 0.5 for “Pasion Prohibida” and CW seventh with a 0.4 for a “Vampire Diaries” rerun.

Fox was first again at 9 p.m. with a 4.0 for “Idol,” while CBS remained second with a 1.9 for a repeat of “Person of Interest.” Univision was third with a 1.7 for “Amores Verdaderos.” Telemundo, ABC and NBC tied for fourth at 0.9, Telemundo for “La Patrona,” ABC for a repeat of “Scandal” and NBC for a rerun of “The Office” (1.0) and a new “1600 Penn” (0.9). The CW placed seventh with a 0.3 for a repeat of “Beauty and the Beast.”

CBS took the lead at 10 p.m. with a 1.6 for a repeat of “Elementary,” with Univision second with a 1.5 for “Amor Bravio.” NBC was third with a 0.9 for a repeat of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” ABC fourth with a 0.8 for a rerun of “Jimmy Kimmel Live: After the Oscars” and Telemundo fifth with a 0.5 for “El Rostro de la Venganza.”

Fox was also first for the night among households with a 7.5 average overnight rating and a 12 share. CBS was second at 5.7/9, ABC third at 2.6/4, Univision fourth at 2.0/3, NBC fifth at 1.9/3, Telemundo sixth at 0.8/1 and CW seventh at 0.6/1.


* * * *

TV Notes
Best tube bets this weekend
By Louisa Ada Seltzer, Media Life Magazine - Mar. 1, 2013


Best bet on broadcast
: NBC, “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” 12:35 a.m.
Mariah Carey and Allison Williams guest, and Prince performs.

Best bet on cable: IFC, “Portlandia,” 10 p.m. Season finale. The lights in the city go out after the mayor neglects to pay the electric bill.

Top sporting event: ESPN, “NBA Basketball,” 10:30 p.m. The league’s leading scorer, Kevin Durant, leads the Oklahoma City Thunder against the Denver Nuggets.


Best bet on broadcast
: NBC, “Saturday Night Live,” 11:30 p.m.
Comedian Kevin Hart hosts and rapper Macklemore performs.

Best bet on cable: CMT, “Swamp Pawn,” 10 p.m. Season finale. What to do when you need to pay the bills? Go snake hunting, of course.

Top sporting event: ESPN, “College Basketball,” 6 p.m. No. 3 Duke hosts No. 5 Miami at Cameron Indoor Stadium.


Best bet on broadcast
: ABC, “Red Widow,” 9 p.m. Series premiere.
A suburban woman attempts to pay off the debts left behind by her deceased pot-growing husband.

Best bet on cable: History, “The Bible,” 8 p.m. Series premiere. First episode of a 10-part docudrama focusing on stories from the Bible.

Top sporting event: CBS, “College Basketball,” 4 p.m. Should be a good one between No. 4 Michigan and No. 9 Michigan State.

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Actress Bonnie Franklin Dies at 69
By Mike Barnes, The Hollywood Reporter - Mar. 1, 2013

Bonnie Franklin, who played a Midwestern divorced mom raising two teenage girls in the long-running Norman Lear sitcom One Day at a Time, has died. She was 69.

Franklin died Friday at her home in Los Angeles. Her family announced in September that she had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was undergoing treatment.

The perky 5-foot-3 redhead also was a versatile cabaret performer and veteran of the stage who collected a Tony Award nomination in 1970 for her role as a gypsy in the original production of the Betty Comden-Adolph Green musical Applause.

Franklin was nominated for an Emmy Award and two Golden Globes for her work as Ann Romano on One Day at a Time, which aired on CBS from December 1975 to May 1984. It co-starred Mackenzie Phillips (16 when the show debuted) and Valerie Bertinelli (then 15) as her daughters and Pat Harrington Jr. as the colorful superintendent of their apartment building.

One Day at a Time had Franklin’s character relocating downstate to Indianapolis with her kids in a quest to “find herself.” The series was developed for Lear’s T.A.T. Communications Co. by the husband-and-wife writing team Whitney Blake and Allan Manings and based on Blake’s real-world experience raising her daughter, future Family Ties mom Meredith Baxter.

Like All in the Family and Maude — two other acclaimed Lear shows of the era — One Day at a Time mixed drama with comedy and tackled taboo topics such as birth control, teen runaways, suicide and sexual harassment. In one storyline, Franklin became engaged, only to have her beloved killed by a drunk driver.

“As soon as we went on the air we started receiving a lot of letters,” Franklin once said. “The letters were saying, ‘This is my life. This is what I’m going through. This is what my mother is like.’ And so we pretty quickly got the idea that we were touching something.”

One Day at a Time also attracted headlines away from the CBS Television City set, with Phillips being fired in 1980 because of problems relating to her drug addiction. She returned only to be fired again and written out of the show.

One Day at a Time peaked in the Nielsen ratings at No. 8 for the 1976-77 season and was a consistent top-20 performer despite being shifted around the CBS schedule during its nine-season run.

Franklin, whose father was an investment banker in Los Angeles and founder of the Beverly Hills chapter of B’nai B’rith, was born in Santa Monica on Jan. 6, 1944. She appeared on The Colgate Comedy Hour at age 9 and had a small role in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Wrong Man (1956).

After attending Beverly Hills High School and then UCLA as an English major, she served as an understudy for Sandy Duncan in the 1968 off-Broadway show Your Own Thing, then bowed on Broadway opposite Lauren Bacall and Len Cariou in Applause, a musical version of the 1950 movie All About Eve.

The production won the Tony for best musical, and Bacall was honored as best actress in a musical.

Franklin’s credits also included recurring roles on the 1960s sitcoms Gidget and Please Don’t Eat the Daisies and guest turns on such shows as The Man From U.N.C.L.E., The Munsters, The Love Boat and Touched by an Angel. She reunited with Bertinelli on Hot in Cleveland and appeared on the daytime soap The Young and the Restless.

Franklin also directed 12 episodes of Munsters Today, a 1988-90 series that updated the 1960s monsters spoof, and Charles in Charge. In recent years, she appeared on stage in such productions as Love & Guilt, Grace and Glorie, Steel Magnolias and My History of Marriage.

Franklin was married twice, the second time for 29 years to producer Marvin Minoff. They met on the set of the CBS telefilm Portrait of a Rebel: The Remarkable Mrs. Sanger (1980), which starred Franklin as birth control activist Margaret Sanger. Minoff died in 2009.

post #85372 of 93699
Originally Posted by dcowboy7 View Post

Speaking of sports....
today is the 1st day of spring (meteorologically for the weatherpeeps at least) which means so much spring sportstuff:

March 12 NFL free agency starts -- NFLN all day
April 17 (tentative) NFL 2013 schedule release show -- NFLN & ESPN
April 25 NFL Draft in NYC 1st round
April 26 2nd-3rd rounds
April 27 4th-7th rounds
May 20-22 NFL spring meetings -- rules changes, playoff changes ?, who gets Super Bowl L (we know its gonna be Santa Clara)
baseball starts
basketball playoffs
hockey playoffs
college bb tournament
horse racing triple crown (well 2 of 3 races)
the masters

& game of thrones is back !!

So much goodness. biggrin.gif

Oh you said it! If we had a thumbs-up emoticon I'd give you a row full smile.gif.
post #85373 of 93699
TV/Business Notes
Imagining a Post-Bundle TV World
By Shalini Ramachandran and William Launder, Wall Street Journal - Feb. 28, 2013

What happens when the "bundle" begins to unravel?

The question is taking on intense importance for the cable-TV business, which for decades has forced customers to subscribe to groups, or bundles, of channels—whether they wanted them or not.

Attacks on the bundle approach have escalated, most recently with Cablevision Systems Corp.'s lawsuit this week against Viacom Inc., accusing it of antitrust violations for forcing it to carry and pay for more than a dozen "lesser-watched" channels in order to offer the popular ones like Nickelodeon and MTV. Viacom disputes the allegation.

Now pay-TV executives—as well as its customers—are openly pondering a world where the bundle no longer reigns, even though such a scenario could be years away.

"People should be able to build what they want and get what they want," said Bartees Cox, a spokesman for consumer group Public Knowledge.

"Without the 'take it or leave it' requirements of bundled programming packages at a wholesale level, cable companies could tailor smaller and lower-priced packages that could offer flexibility and have great appeal to specific interests and audiences," said Charlie Schueler, spokesman for Cablevision.

Giving consumers the right to pick and choose could be costly for the big entertainment companies such as Time Warner Inc., Viacom, News Corp. and Walt Disney Co., which rely on subscription fees from cable channels for a big chunk of their profits. Disney draws more than $10 billion in such fee revenue, mostly from its majority-owned ESPN group of channels, according to estimates from market researcher SNL Kagan. That is about a third of the $31.6 billion expected to be generated industrywide by such fees this year, excluding premium services like HBO and broadcast outlets, Kagan says.

The size of these fees varies widely. ESPN gets $5.54 per subscriber a month, while Viacom's MTV gets 41 cents per subscriber. Niche channels get much less. MTV Hits, for instance, gets two cents, according to Kagan.

There are already some cheaper packages in the market—but they aren't promoted heavily. Verizon Communications' FiOS service recently introduced "Select HD," priced at $49.99 a month, about $15 below the next-level package. Like similar offerings available from other distributors, it excludes sports channels such as ESPN. But operators can't market these too widely for fear of violating contracts with entertainment companies. Those contracts typically require that their channels reach 80% to 90% of their subscribers.

While some pay-TV executives say that full "a la carte'" could be overwhelming for viewers, others say that such an offering would be "the dream" but not practical, considering the reality of relationships with entertainment companies.

Instead, several pay-TV executives suggest creation of smaller bundles or tiers based on genre, from which viewers could pick and choose. For instance, a general entertainment package could include Time Warner's TBS and Comcast Corp.'s USA. Atop that package or standalone, subscribers could choose a sports bundle including channels like ESPN and regional sports networks. A news package might offer Time Warner's CNN, News Corp.'s Fox News, Comcast's MSNBC and Bloomberg TV, among others. A family and kids tier might include Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel.

Allowing people to drop sports channels, in particular, could help them save money because sports channels are among the priciest. ESPN is the single most expensive channel by far. But if lots of people drop it, customers who want it would have to pay more.

There are some other expensive channels as well, including News Corp.'s Fox News (94 cents a month) and Time Warner's TNT ($1.24 a month), according to Kagan estimates.

News Corp. also owns The Wall Street Journal.

Mediacom Communications Corp., a small cable operator based in Middletown, N.Y., has long agitated for unbundling. It advocates a "hybrid a la carte" model, in which those most expensive channels are sold individually on top of genre-based tiers.

Only a handful of channels from each media conglomerate are "priced really exorbitantly," said Thomas Larsen, group vice president of legal and public affairs at Mediacom. Under the hybrid model, distributors would take out of the equation the channels "causing the prices of packages to go up so high."

Mr. Larsen, along with DirecTV's top programming negotiator, Dan York, also said broadcast networks, which until recently didn't get paid any money by pay-TV distributors, may also have to be sold individually because of the big fees they are now seeking. An executive at one distributor said his company is already in discussions with broadcast station groups to offer networks a la carte to customers.

There has long been intense debate about whether unbundling would save consumers money. Two studies by the Federal Communications Commission in the past decade came to opposite conclusions. A Temple University study, meanwhile, concluded only incremental savings for consumers, and that was before accounting for the higher costs for customer service and programming that distributors would likely pass along.

Big media companies also argue that a la carte would be bad for the consumer in the long run. "A la carte—maybe a little counterintuitively—raises prices and reduces choice because it increases the costs," said Mike Fricklas, general counsel at Viacom, explaining that "now you have to worry about whether they are subscribing and watching." He said a lot of money would be siphoned out of programming investment and into marketing dollars because there wouldn't be assured distribution.

Executives at media companies say they would be forced to raise prices on their channels to maintain how much they spend on sports rights, original programming and other content. ¼

Mr. Fricklas says the conversation will change only if "cutting the cord" becomes a widespread reality. "As of right now," Mr. Fricklas said, "the cable packages are expensive to some people but not so expensive that people aren't choosing to subscribe."

But another pay-TV executive said improved Internet distribution of video will "force the change."

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TV Notes
Meet the kinder, gentler 'Vikings' of the History channel
The History channel's first full-length, scripted series is the latest example of the cable network's efforts to establish itself as an original-content player in the industry.
By Meredith Blake, Los Angeles Times - Feb. 28, 2013

Have the Vikings gotten a bum rap?

At least according to popular imagination, they were fearsome barbarians in horned helmets who pillaged their way across Northern Europe during the Dark Ages. And while it's true these seafaring Norsemen were hardly a bunch of peaceniks, the new History scripted series "Vikings" will attempt to bring some nuance to the caricature of the bearded brutes when it premieres Sunday.

"The great thesis is, 'You think you know the Vikings, but you don't," said series creator Michael Hirst.

The series represents uncharted territory in more ways than one: At 10 episodes, it will be History's first full-length, scripted program, arriving on the heels of the massively successful miniseries "Hatfields & McCoys" and accompanying the debut of the channel's new miniseries "The Bible."

"Vikings" marks the latest step in History's dramatic makeover in recent years from a stodgy and largely irrelevant channel that played a seemingly infinite loop of WWII documentaries to a top-5 cable network and industry trendsetter.

As the screenwriter of the film "Elizabeth" and all 38 episodes of the cable series "The Tudors," Hirst has a knack for bringing epic historical tales vividly to life. His latest series, set in the late 8th-century Scandinavia, will join a rather short list of sympathetic pop cultural depictions of the Viking people.

"They're always 'the other.' They're the guys who smash down your door and ravish and kill you and take your possessions — perpetual bad guys," Hirst said by telephone from his home in England.

Of course, a brave and hunky protagonist can make any number of sins more palatable to the contemporary viewer. Vikings" has Ragnar Lothbrok, a legendary Norse hero who led raids on France and England. Played here by Australian actor and former Calvin Klein model Travis Fimmel, Ragnar is a visionary family man who clashes with ruthless tribal leader Earl Haraldson (Gabriel Byrne) over his plan to explore the uncharted waters to the west.

"It's like any other drama: the first rule is to get you involved in the characters. They don't have to be nice, they have to be powerful and they have to be compulsively watchable," Hirst said.

Hirst took pains to emphasize the Vikings' positive contributions to Western civilization; their rich mythology and surprisingly progressive gender politics — who knew? — all figure prominently in the series, which was filmed over five months at the brand-new Ashford Studios in County Wicklow, Ireland.

For Nancy Dubuc, president of entertainment and media for A&E Networks, scripted content has been a dream since she took over the reins at History in 2007.

"We can't be the well-rounded and powerful brand that we are without bringing this form of storytelling to our network," she said. "But I also believed very firmly that if we were going to do it, we were going to do it to win, not just to play," she said.

Dubuc's first big move at the network was greenlighting the reality series "Ice Road Truckers." When that became a hit, she added a spate of male-skewing, nonscripted series centered on adventurous, eccentric subjects: "Pawn Stars," set in a Las Vegas pawn shop; "Top Gear," an adaptation of a hugely popular British automotive show; and "Swamp People," about alligator hunters in the Louisiana bayou.

The rebranding led many to remark on the network's increasingly liberal interpretation of the word "history," but the proof is in the pudding: History has seen six straight years of ratings growth, with a prime-time audience that now averages 2 million viewers.

In 2012 it was home to three of the top-20-rated shows in cable ("Pawn Stars," "American Pickers" and "Swamp People"), and it is also the No. 1 entertainment network in cable among men ages 25 to 54, a population that tends to be underserved in the female-centric world of basic cable.

"They've found a really great niche as a place where advertisers can reach men really easily that isn't sports," said Ethan Heftman, senior vice president and director of national broadcast at the media-buying firm Initiative.

History made its first, ill-fated attempt at scripted television with "The Kennedys," the $30-million miniseries that was yanked after a chorus of complaints and later aired on the obscure Reelz channel. The brouhaha was quickly forgotten thanks to "Hatfields & McCoys," which became the highest-rated broadcast in the history of ad-supported cable when it aired last spring, attracting an audience of 14.3-million viewers for its finale. The miniseries also earned critical praise, racking up 16 Emmy nominations and two wins.

Revenue has surged accordingly. History brought in a total of $823 million in advertising and licensing fees in 2012, an improvement of nearly $100 million over 2011, according to the research firm SNL Kagan.

Numbers like that explain why History isn't the only successful cable network diversifying its lineup these days. Bravo, known for its glossy reality shows about the affluent and narcissistic, is pushing aggressively into the scripted arena with some half-dozen pilots in development. Meanwhile AMC, home to critical darlings "Breaking Bad" and "Mad Men," is moving in the opposite direction with a Thursday-night reality block.

"The less expensive, nonscripted stuff helps you build your ratings. The scripted stuff helps you build your brand," Heftman said.

History was attracted to "Vikings" — initially developed by MGM Television and the Irish producer Morgan O'Sullivan — largely because of its self-explanatory premise.

"Something we think about when we're looking at all of our scripted projects is 'Can you put up a billboard and get it right away?''" said Dick Hoogstra, senior vice president of development and production at History. "We like it when the marketing doesn't have to explain too much."

With its wintry climes and characters decked out in leather tunics and shaggy fur capes, "Vikings" has perhaps inevitably invited comparisons to HBO's fantasy series "Game of Thrones." The projects share a preoccupation with medieval hygiene and bloody decapitations, but there are some notable differences — namely, the constraints of basic cable.

"When I was writing 'The Tudors,' there was a certain amount of gratuitous stuff which has now gone bonkers in a lot of cable shows. Every scene starts with semi-naked women. With History, of course, the rules are different," Hirst said.

"Vikings" is also limited, if only slightly, by historical reality. Hirst can humanize the Vikings all he wants, but he can't entirely whitewash their more unflattering qualities, such as their overt hostility to Christianity (an early episode features a brutal raid on a Nothrumbrian monastery). This will make for some interesting contrasts on Sunday nights, when "Vikings" airs following "The Bible."

In many ways, "Vikings" is a more obvious fit with the History brand — or at least with the lower-case "h" concept of history — than the network's roster of contemporary reality shows. What's less clear, however, is the common thread between "Vikings" and, say, "Big Rig Bounty Hunters."

And that's just fine with Dubuc: "That's the nice thing about our programming — not every show is connected. When you do that you end up with a prime-time schedule that's very derivative of itself."

post #85375 of 93699
Critic's Notes
The Best Sitcom of the Past 30 Years, Round One: Roseanne vs. Malcolm in the Middle
By Margaret Lyons, Vulture.com (New York Magazine) - Mar. 1, 2013

Vulture is holding the ultimate Sitcom Smackdown to determine the greatest TV comedy of the past 30 years. Each day, a different notable writer will be charged with determining the winner of a round of the bracket, until New York Magazine TV critic Matt Zoller Seitz judges the finals on March 18. Today's battle: Vulture's Margaret Lyons adjudicates between two struggling-family greats, Roseanne and Malcolm in the Middle. Make sure to head over to Facebook to vote in our Readers Bracket. We also invite tweeted opinions with the #sitcomsmackdown hashtag.

Working-class families with lusty parents and squabbling siblings, flanked by a bunch of oddballs and operating with a gleeful antagonism towards one another. When I sat down to evaluate Malcolm in the Middle and Roseanne, I thought the shows had a lot in common, and that their similarities would make picking one not moot exactly, but sort of futile. Aren't these shows scratching the same itch?

They are not.

Both are excellent sitcoms that I loved deeply when they first aired — shows I watched repeatedly, related to, and saw myself in. But Malcolm exists in this other, cartoony world, and the show goes to great lengths to situate the viewer there, to acclimate us to its strange environment. Roseanne is very much in and of this world. Malcolm's a telescope. Roseanne is a mirror.

Family sitcoms often rely on an undercurrent of haplessness, of at least one of the parents being or seeming incompetent, out of his or her element. Sometimes it’s used to great effect (Everybody Loves Raymond), but more often than not it’s overused (Modern Family being the most popular current example). But Roseanne and Dan Conner on Roseanne and Malcolm’s Lois and Hal (who never get a last name) avoid that cliché entirely. They are really good parents: stable, consistent, and incredibly present in their children's lives. However much they scold or scream or feel exasperated with each other or their kids, there's never bitterness or a lack of love. Most episodes of both shows include the families sitting down to an honest-to-God family dinner. And even if the meal ends in a food fight or someone stomping off, the effect is deeply comforting. That's how those meals are in real life. We stomp because we love. Or rather, we can stomp because we are loved.

That realism defines Roseanne. When the show — created by and starring stand-up comedian Roseanne Barr — launched in 1988, it was on opposite Matlock. Think about how dated Matlock seems right now: Doesn't that seem like a show title you’d find scrawled on the side of an old box of cracked VHS tapes? Yet Roseanne is shockingly timeless. There are almost no pop culture references, and other than scrunchies and non-cordless landlines, the show never seems to indicate what year it is. Part of that's because credible emotional choices and a lack of sentimentality know no era. Dan, Roseanne, and their three kids, Becky, Darlene, and DJ, are distinctly drawn comic characters who retain a full range of human emotions. Roseanne's sister Jackie could have been just a flighty busybody or an anxious mess, but like everyone else on the show, she contains multitudes.

At this point, everyone knows the set was often a nightmare, but you can’t tell from the first five seasons, which are pretty much flawless. (The strain begins to show in season seven, when Roseanne gets pregnant, and seasons eight and nine should probably be ignored completely.) Yet during its stellar run, Barr, John Goodman (Dan), and Laurie Metcalf (Jackie) all won Emmys, but the show never did. Can we see in this a microcosm of class prejudice? Oh friends, this is America: Everything is a microcosm of class prejudice.

Malcolm was even more under-appreciated. Cloris Leachman (Grandma Ida) was the only cast member to win an Emmy (Jane Kaczmarek, who played Lois, was robbed!), and creator Linwood Boomer never got the props he deserved. Somehow The Office and Arrested Development receive the credit for ushering in the era of single-camera comedies, even though Malcolm predates them. The fourth-wall-breaking asides of the show’s titular character — the family’s genius third son — and the show's deep affection for strangeness make it seem like the clear precursor to Parks and Recreation. When Bryan Cranston's Hal blissfully roller-dances around a playground, or Lois one-ups an army officer with her knowledge of psychological warfare, the show has all the whimsy and precision of 30 Rock. Malcolm was able to gobble up genre satire and coming-of-age cliches and metabolize them through its peculiar system of distorted, borderline grotesque, yet utterly joyous style. Like Roseanne, later seasons weren’t as good — not necessarily because of, but certainly coinciding with, the addition of a new baby. Ugh, babies! Is there nothing they can't ruin?

For the purposes of this bracket, we've been asked to think about the shows at their best — and there's no joy for me in re-watching subpar episodes. Most fans consider "Bowling" to be Malcolm's greatest episode, and it is great. It's told in split narratives, bouncing between what happens when Lois takes Malcolm and older brother Reese bowling, and what happens when Hal takes them. Each outing is disastrous in its own way, but Lois's timeline climaxes in one of TV's great moments of adolescent frustration and ineptitude, with Malcolm melting down after a little too much prodding.

But "Bowling" isn't my number one. That would be "Water Park." (I'm also partial to season four's "Boys at the Ranch." Ah, Francis.) "Water" is the season one finale, in which youngest brother Dewey is forced to stay home from the family vacation with his babysitter, the late, great Bea Arthur. At first she finds him grating, but when they're sorting buttons — "first by number of holes" — the two discover they share favorite and least favorite buttons. (Dewey “saves” his in his mouth.) This somehow builds to the two doing an elaborate dance number to ABBA's "Fernando." Immediately afterwards, an ambulance takes Arthur's character away, and she's never heard from again.

In that little dance routine is everything Malcolm stands for. The idea that there is no bliss greater than a lack of shame. That self-consciousness is a curse, and self-possession a blessing. Your parents and brothers may embarrass you (which they almost certainly will as members navigate childhood, teenhood, and adulthood), and the world outside may judge you harshly for going against the grain, but you can drop the act when you're around your family. Shave your back in the kitchen. Write a symphony while you're in middle school. Find a way to hitchhike back from Afghanistan. You'll never be more at home than you are at, er, home.

Roseanne doesn't operate in nearly as shame-based a world. Roseanne at work is Roseanne at home is Roseanne out on the town: Loud, opinionated, sometimes unkind, but always down to earth and funny as hell. As image-conscious as Becky is in early seasons, or as panicky as Jackie tends to be, they are their real selves all the time.

Picking a favorite episode of Roseanne was harder for me than picking a favorite Malcolm. I've never related to anyone in film or television more than Darlene Conner. (If we're including books, Meg Murry from A Wrinkle in Time has a slight edge: We share a name, and she wears glasses so … ) Darlene was around my age when the show was on, and I too was the moody, skeptical middle child. A common utterance in my home: "Is that Margaret talking, or are you Darlene now?" It was meant as an instruction to be more polite, but I secretly thought of it as an indicator that I had succeeded somehow — Darlene-ness was what I aspired to. Watching now, it sort of still is.

I meant to re-watch fifteen or so episodes of Roseanne to jog my memory, but I wound up watching closer to 50. In about a week. I love "The Little Sister," which digs into Jackie and Roseanne's relationship and was written by someone named Joss Whedon who went on to nothing. I love "Brain-dead Poet's Society," in which Darlene has to read a poem she wrote, and it's the most humane and perfect exploration of tween girlhood I've ever seen. I love "Friends and Relatives," written by another nobody, Two and a Half Men creator Chuck Lorre, where Dan and Roseanne have to borrow money from Jackie. "Like a Virgin" finds Darlene in the throes of her first make-out session. The episodes about Jackie and Roseanne's abusive father — "Thanksgiving '91," "Kansas City, Here We Come," "This Old House," "Wait Till Your Father Gets Home" — are biting and honest and hilarious, without being superficial or phony.

All kinds of funny, open people are lugging around heavy baggage. Roseanne has been described by some as cynical or nasty, and that's wrong. It’s an incredibly optimistic show, one that says "You actually can learn how to love and be loved." Roseanne and Dan's imperfect marriage is enviable (at least through season seven); it’s hard not to be jealous of what they have, and, as they joke sarcastically with their children or do goofy bits with one another, hard not to want them to be your parents, too. I felt a little sad rewatching the series: I would love to be blogging about Darlene Conner, Feminist Hero. Or DJ Conner, Underrated Child Character. Or Dan and Roseanne vs. Coach and Mrs. Coach: Who Has The Best Marriage? I could write about Roseanne forever.

Malcolm is a great show. But Roseanne is funnier. And truer. And sadder. And better.


Margaret Lyons is a Vulture associate editor.

post #85376 of 93699
Originally Posted by dcowboy7 View Post

Speaking of sports....
today is the 1st day of spring (meteorologically for the weatherpeeps at least) which means so much spring sportstuff:

March 12 NFL free agency starts -- NFLN all day
April 17 (tentative) NFL 2013 schedule release show -- NFLN & ESPN
April 25 NFL Draft in NYC 1st round
April 26 2nd-3rd rounds
April 27 4th-7th rounds
May 20-22 NFL spring meetings -- rules changes, playoff changes ?, who gets Super Bowl L (we know its gonna be Santa Clara)
baseball starts
basketball playoffs
hockey playoffs
college bb tournament
horse racing triple crown (well 2 of 3 races)
the masters

& game of thrones is back !!

So much goodness. biggrin.gif

You forgot the World Baseball Classic. Pool play starts tomorrow. Team USA starts play next week.

[BTW, Spring doesn't begin until March 20.]
post #85377 of 93699
Originally Posted by domino92024 View Post

You forgot the World Baseball Classic. Pool play starts tomorrow. Team USA starts play next week.

[BTW, Spring doesn't begin until March 20.]

Astronomically, yes, but "Spring" can have other definitions. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spring_(season)

As far as sports I'm very very excited about March Madness this year. Alford's taking my team to the Final 4, I can feel it!
post #85378 of 93699
Originally Posted by lobosrul View Post

Originally Posted by domino92024 View Post

You forgot the World Baseball Classic. Pool play starts tomorrow. Team USA starts play next week.

[BTW, Spring doesn't begin until March 20.]

Astronomically, yes, but "Spring" can have other definitions. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spring_(season)

Fine. Which one fits your March 1 designation?
post #85379 of 93699
Originally Posted by domino92024 View Post

Fine. Which one fits your March 1 designation?

Uhh... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spring_(season)

Meteorological reckoning

Spring, when defined in this manner, can start on different dates in different regions. In terms of complete months, in most North Temperate Zone locations, spring months are March, April and May, although differences exist from country to country.
post #85380 of 93699
TV Notes
ABC Pulls 'Zero Hour' From Schedule
By Michael O'Connell, The Hollywood Reporter's 'Live Feed' Blog - Mar. 1, 2013

The mediocre midseason has claimed another victim. ABC has pulled freshman drama Zero Hour from the schedule, effective immediately.

News of the series' fate comes as little surprise after a soft debut of 6.4 million viewers and a 1.4 rating with adults 18-49. Zero Hour dropped in its second outing before bottoming with just 5 million viewers and a 1.0 adults rating on Feb. 28 -- despite a lack of original competition from most broadcast networks.

Encores of Shark Tank will air in the series' stead for the next two Thursdays until Wife Swap starts a seven-week stretch March 21. Wipeout returns to the hour May 9.

The 8 p.m. Thursday time slot has been a tricky one for ABC to fill. Autumn launch Last Resort opened to a relatively promising 2.2 adults rating and 9.1 million viewers in September before falling sharply. Still, after its November cancelation, the network did let the Shawn Ryan drama finish its run in the hour.

Produced by ABC Studios, Zero Hour was created by Paul Scheuring and stars ER veteran Anthony Edwards -- as well as Jacinda Barrett, Scott Michael Foster, Addison Timlin, Carmen Ejogo and Michael Nyqvist. The rather complicated conspiracy-theory premise had many referencing Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, though it was not dismissed by critics. The Hollywood Reporter chief TV critic Tim Goodman praised the series' risk-taking, calling it "worthy of viewers' attention."

Zero Hour joins NBC's Do No Harm and CBS' The Job as midseason debuts to get the ax. The CW's Cult is in similar territory, getting shipped off to Fridays after just two episodes.

It is unclear where the remaining episodes of Zero Hour will air, though it will most likely be during the summer.

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