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Hot Off The Press: The Latest TV News and Information - Page 2890

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TV Notes
Dr. Drew says no more 'Celebrity Rehab': 'It's very stressful and intense for me'
By Erin Strecker, EW.com's 'Inside TV' Blog - May 3, 2013

In a recent radio interview, Dr. Drew Pinsky said he doesn’t plan on participating in any more Celebrity Rehab, following the death of five former cast members — most recently country star Mindy McCready earlier this year.

“I’m tired. It’s very stressful and intense for me,” Pinsky explained in a radio chat with Zach Sang and the Gang. “To have people questioning my motives and taking aim at me because people get sick and die because they have a life-threatening disease, and I take the blame? Rodney King has a heart attack and I take blame for that?”

In addition to McCready and King, Jeff Conaway, Mike Starr and Joey Kovar have all have passed away after appearing on the program.

EW’s requests to reps for Dr. Drew and Vh1 for comment on his radio show comments and to confirm the end of his participation in Celebrity Rehab were not returned.

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

8PM - Bet On Your Baby
9PM - 20/20 (120 min.)

8PM - Person of Interest
(R - Sep. 27)
9PM - 48 Hours
(R - Sep. 29)
10PM - 48 Hours Mysteries

8PM - Smash
9PM - The Voice
(R - May 1)
10PM - Saturday Night Live (Jennifer Lawrence hosts; The Lumineers perform)
(R - Jan. 19)
* * * *
11:29PM - Saturday Night Live (Zach Galifianakis hosts; Of Monsters and Men performs; 93 min.)

8PM - COPS (Season Finale)
9PM - The Following
(R - Apr. 29)
* * * *
11PM - Hell's Kitchen
(R - Jul. 2)
Midnight - Ben and Kate
(R - Dec. 4)

(check your local listing for starting time/programming)
8PM - Austin City Limits: Norah Jones; Kat Edmonson (R - Jan. 19)

8PM - Sábado Gigante (3 hrs.)

8PM - Movie: The A-Team (2010)
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Critic's Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - May 4, 2013

NBC, 8:00 a.m. ET

The last frame of last week’s Smash suggested a smash hit – of an automobile smashing into one of the show’s street-crossing characters. So expect some dramatic backlash tonight, as the two shows vying for attention in this series’ plot – Hit List and Bombshell – shuffle the decks once again.

BBC America, 8:00 p.m. ET

This week, the Doctor takes a trip back to the past – to Victorian Yorkshire, where he confronts a local urban legend known as “the Crimson horror.” Which, he soon learns, is true, and deadly.

TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

Love this movie. It’s a Depression-era musical about the Depression – and is meta enough to actually be about artists trying to band together and raise money to put on a show about the Depression. It starts off as goofy as you can get, with Ginger Rogers singing “We’re in the Money” in Pig Latin – but ends with a punch to the gut, a returning-war-veterans production number called “Remember My Forgotten Man.” Once you see it, you’ll never forget it.

BBC America, 9:00 p.m. ET

Tatiana Maslani, on this series, already not only has played several differently acting cloned versions of the main character, but has portrayed them acting, in disguise, as one another. Tonight she does it again, with another clone asked to impersonate another lookalike. Even with a scorecard, there’s no telling the players on this show — except that almost all of them are Maslani.

NBC, 11:29 p.m. ET

Tonight’s guest host, returning for this new edition, is the energetic and risk-taking Zach Galifianakis. Musical guests: Monsters of Men.


* * * *

Nielsen Notes
The Address is CBS for Primetime's Most Courted Viewers
By Ed Bark, TVWorthWatching.com - May 3, 2013

George H.W. Bush was president, Joan Lunden still co-hosted Good Morning America and David Letterman continued to fester at NBC the last time this happened.

It was the close of the 1991-’92 television season, and CBS had just emerged as No. 1 in prime-time among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds. Now that’s going to happen again after decades of jokes about skewing north of Forest Lawn and being America’s most-watched network in nursing homes (which it probably still is).

Fox’s eight-season winning streak in the key 18-to-49 demographic will come to an end when the 2012-’13 season officially concludes on Wednesday, May 22. Before that, ABC and NBC traded firsts. But as of the ratings week ending April 28, CBS has an insurmountable lead of 3.7 million to 3.2 million over Fox, with NBC (3 million) and ABC (2.8 million) likewise out of contention.

CBS as usual will win in the total viewers margin, although this time it’s a mega-rout. The network is averaging 12 million viewers in the season-to-date averages, followed by ABC (7.8 million), Fox (7.1 million) and NBC (7 million).

Back in ’91-’92, CBS’ top 20-rated prime-time shows were 60 Minutes, Murphy Brown, Designing Women, Murder, She Wrote, Major Dad, the CBS Sunday Night Movie, Evening Shade and Northern Exposure.

In the ongoing season, its big hitters include NCIS and its L.A. spinoff, The Big Bang Theory, Person of Interest, Elementary, Two and a Half Men, Blue Bloods, the latest editions of Survivor and again, 60 Minutes.

It’s true that CBS still has a far lower percentage of 18-to-49-year-olds than any of its rivals. But there’s power in tonnage. And NCIS’ overall haul of 17.3 million viewers for its April 23rd episode included 3.6 million in the 18-to-49 age range. Fox’s American Idol drew 4.1 million 18-to-49-year-olds last week for its Wednesday performance show and 3.5 million for the Thursday results edition. That’s close to being a wash, with Idol continuing to trend downward. And who would have ever thought that NCIS basically would reach parity with Idol on the 18-to-49 scorecard while blowing it out in the total viewer Nielsens. (Idol’s totals were 12.4 million and 11.4 million last week.)

CBS otherwise punishes Idol on a weekly basis whenever a new episode of its biggest 18-to-49 performer, Big Bang Theory, competes with the first half-hour of Idol’s Thursday results show. Last week, Big Bang had 5.7 million viewers in this age range.

Prime-time’s most popular network, now by any important measurement, still suffers from a lack of buzz-worthy shows. Big Bang and The Good Wife garner some attention. But far more blog blab is devoted to dissecting episodes of NBC’s Community or Parks & Recreation while fretting whether either little-watched comedy will return next season. Both are deemed to be cooler, smarter shows than a flabby old episode of CBS’ Blue Bloods, which last week ranked 14th in prime-time with 10.5 million viewers despite its Friday habitat. (Only Saturday is a lower TV viewing night.)

CBS’ seemingly never-ending string of successful “procedural” crime shows is not an optimum way to attract attention from TV critics, including this one. Still, attention should be paid — at least now and then — to the lone Big 4 broadcast network that continues to laugh in the face of its myriad cable competitors. CBS is still making the old broadcast model work — and without three or more hours worth of “reality” competition shows each week. Think of where NBC, ABC and Fox would be this season without The Voice, Dancing with the Stars and even a declining Idol.

The Big Four broadcast networks — and little CW — all will announce their new fall schedules the week of May 13. And CBS has “problems” its rivals would all love to have. Three of its “on the bubble” crime dramas — CSI: NY, Vegas and Golden Boy — still have total viewer ratings that would make them top-of-the-rung hits in the ABC, NBC or Fox lineups. Still, you’ve gotta keep replenishing the inventory.

Whatever its scheduling decisions, CBS will march into next season as the No. 1 network among 18-to-49-year-olds for the first time in 21 years. So save the Depends jokes for the also-rans while CBS celebrates by trading in some of its old Buicks for a few skateboards.

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TV Review
'Pizza Cuz'
Cooking Channel follows 2 guys from Staten Island enjoying their slice of life
By David Hinckley, New York Daily News - May 3, 2013

ALL YOU really need to know about “Pizza Cuz” is that two guys from Staten Island get to fly all over America looking for the most interesting pizza.

If there were a signup sheet for this job, it would stretch from Famous Ray’s to some tiki hut in California where the pizzas are topped with free-range sushi.

But once Francis Garcia and Sal Basille get rolling, it’s hard to begrudge them the gig, because they know what they’re talking about and they make viewers feel like part of the fun.

Think of it as enjoying the pizza without enduring the calories — or, more often than you might think, getting to marvel at a pizza you may not actually want to eat.

On Monday’s opener, for instance, a West Coast pizza is topped with nettles. It may be good for the planet. It’s not likely to replace pepperoni.

Another of Monday’s pizzas is billed as “clams casino,” and sure enough, it’s loaded with clams.

In their shells.

Also West Coast.

You’re grabbing a slice for lunch. Do you really want to pick the clams out and find a place to toss the shells?

Garcia and Basille, it should be noted, own the Artichoke chain of pizzerias themselves. This may be why they sometimes get technical in describing how the ingredients meet and mingle.

But once they fly back East to New York and drop into Keste in Bleecker St., where the proprietors flash-bake pizzas for 90 seconds in a 900-degree oven, we’re reminded that if you don’t stray too far from the holy trinity of crust, cheese and tomato, it’s hard to make a pizza that doesn’t look good enough to eat.

Network / Air Date: Monday at 9 p.m, Cooking Channel
Rating: ★★★ (out of five)

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TV Notes
This summer on PBS, fresh ‘Masterpiece’
By Media Life Magazine Staff - May 3, 2013

Summers are known for a glut of repeats and low-rated reality shows on broadcast TV, but there will be plenty of fresh content on PBS.

The public broadcaster has slated its summer programming, including four “Masterpiece Mystery” productions: a sixth season of “Inspector Lewis” and the new shows “Endeavour,” “The Lad Vanishes” and “Silk.”

In addition to regular series, PBS in June will air two specials, “Annie: It’s the Hard-Knock Life, From Script to Stage,” which looks at the musical “Annie,” and “Secrets of Henry VIII’s Palace,” a tour of the legendary king’s home.

July will be a busy month at PBS, starting with a re-airing of the 1985 Ken Burns film “The Statue of Liberty” and the annual Independence Day special “A Capitol Fourth.” Also airing that month will be five episodes of the documentary series “POV,” two episodes of “Secrets of the Dead” and the specials “Nazi Mega Weapons” and “Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery.”

Among the highlights in August are the three-part series “The Life of Muhammad” and the special “Side By Side,” a look at the art of filmmaking hosted by actor Keanu Reeves.

For a complete look at PBS’s summer programming lineup, click here.

Meanwhile, in other programming, ABC Family’s “Melissa and Joey” returns Wednesday, May 29, with its third-season debut at 8 p.m., followed by the season two bow of “Baby Daddy” at 8:30. And the new reality studio dance show “Dancing Fools” bows at 9 p.m.

Lifetime’s “Drop Dead Diva” returns Sunday, June 23, at 9 p.m. for season five.

And TV Land’s “Hot in Cleveland” is back Wednesday, June 19, at 10 p.m. with its first-ever live broadcast. It’s followed by “The Exes” at 10:30 p.m. and “The Soul Man” at 11 p.m.

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FRIDAY's fast affiliate overnight prime-time ratings -and what they mean- have been posted on Analyst Marc Berman's Media Insight's Blog
Edited by dad1153 - 5/4/13 at 9:47am
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Nielsen Notes (Cable)
Bravo's Andy Cohen Tops E!'s Chelsea Handler in Late Night
By Jethro Nededog, TheWrap.com - May 3, 2013

A little sibling rivalry can be good, no? Below the cross-network battle for late night eyes between ABC's Jimmy Kimmel and NBC's Jay Leno, there's a whole other level of battle.

Andy Cohen serves up the strangest combinations of guests on his boozy late night show, "Watch What Happens Live" on Bravo. Over at NBCUniversal sister network, E!, Chelsea Handler makes fun of her guests – sometimes dating them – and acts as if she couldn't be more over it on "Chelsea Lately."

Who would win in a head to head between the two? TheWrap checked the past week's numbers – total viewers and the advertiser-coveted 18-49 key demo -- to find out. You're welcome.

What did we discover? In the past week, blondes may have had more fun, but lushes got more total viewers and more viewers in the key demo. For Monday through Thursday of this week, "WWHL" averaged 379,000 18-49 viewers and 659,000 total viewers. That's 23 percent more than "Chelsea Lately's" 308,000 18-49 viewers and 30 percent more than its 505,000 total viewers, according to Nielsen.

Here's the daily breakdown (averages):

For Monday 4/29/13:
"WWHL": 392,000 18-49 and 793,000 total viewers
"Chelsea Lately": 315,000 and 513,000 total viewers

For Tuesday 4/30/13:
"WWHL": 432,000 18-49 and 693,000 total viewers.
"Chelsea Lately": 292,000 P18-49 and 512,000 total viewers

For Wednesday 5/01/13:
"WWHL": 371,000 18-49 and 615,000 total viewers.
"Chelsea Lately": 344,000 18-49 and 520,000 total viewers

For Thursday 5/02/13:
"WWHL": 321,000 18-49 and 532,000 total viewers.
"Chelsea Lately": 282,000 18-49 and 474,000 total viewers

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

7PM - America's Funniest Home Videos
8PM - Once Upon A Time
9PM - Revenge
10PM - Red Widow (Season Finale)

7PM - 60 Minutes
8PM - The Amazing Race (Season Finale, 120 min.)
10PM - The Mentalist (Season Finale)

7PM - The Voice (120 min.)
(R - Apr. 29)
9PM - All-Star Celebrity Apprentice (120 min.)

7PM - The Simpsons
(R - Feb. 10)
7:30PM - The Cleveland Show
8PM - The Simpsons
8:30PM - Bob's Burgers
9PM - Family Guy
9:30PM - American Dad

(check your local listing for starting time/programming)
8PM - Call the Midwife
9PM - Masterpiece Classic: Mr. Selfridge: Part 6
10PM - The Bletchley Circle

7PM - Aquí y Ahora
8PM - Nuestra Belleza Latina (120 min.)
10PM - Sal y Pimienta (15 min.)
10:15PM - Arranque de Pasión (Series Premiere)

7PM - La Voz Kids (Series Premiere, 120 min.)
9PM - Movie: The Incredibles (2004)
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TV Notes
Brendon Ayanbadejo on 2 Sunday shows; Warren Buffett on 'This Week'
By Hal Boedeker, Orlando Sentinel's 'TV Guy' Blog

The Sunday morning topics and guests:

Gay rights supporter Brendon Ayanbadejo of the Baltimore Ravens will be a guest on "Meet the Press" and "Face the Nation." He will discuss the meaning of NBA player Jason Collins' coming out.

NBC's "Meet the Press" starts at 9 a.m. on WESH-Channel 2. A discussion about the Boston bombings brings together Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.; former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, R-New York; former Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif.; and Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark. A panel discussion on Washington inaction features former House Speaker Newt Gingrich; former Democratic Congressman Harold Ford; Rich Lowry of the National Review; and Joy-Ann Reid, MSNBC contributor and political columnist for The Miami Herald.

On CBS' "Face the Nation," tennis greats Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova discuss Collins' revelation that he's gay. The program starts at 10:30 a.m. on WKMG-Channel 6. Another guest is Esera Tuaolo, former NFL player and author of "Alone in the Trenches: My Life as a Gay Man in the NFL."A panel on gay athletes in sports features Domonique Foxworth, president of the NFL Players Association; Ted Leonsis, owner of the Washington Capitals, Wizards and Mystics; Bill Rhoden of The New York Times; and Chris Stone of Sports Illustrated. Other guests are Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich.; Rep Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md.; and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.

"Fox News Sunday" talks to Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass.; Rep.Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah; and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. The program starts at 10 a.m. on WOFL-Channel 35. The panel will beJennifer Rubin of The Washington Post, Julie Price of The Associated Press, Nina Easton of Fortune magazine and former Sen.Evan Bayh, D-Ind., a Fox New contributor. The program also features former heavyweight boxing champ Mike Tyson.
Photos from Winestock 2013

Warren Buffett, chair and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, talks to ABC's "This Week" at 11 a.m. on WFTV-Channel 9. The political roundtable will be Democratic strategist James Carville, Republican strategist Mary Matalin, ABC's Cokie Roberts, former Gov. Bill Richardson, D-N.M., and former Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., now president of the Heritage Foundation. The program also talks to Whoopi Goldberg of ABC's "The View" and director of the film "I Got Somethin' to Tell You," a documentary about comedian Moms Mabley.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., are guests on CNN's "State of the Union" at 9 a.m. and noon. Discussing President Barack Obama's agenda are Jeanne Cummings of Bloomberg News and A.B. Stoddard of The Hill. A panel discussion on radicalization features Daveed Gartenstein-Ross of the Center for the Study of Terrorist Radicalization, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, Suhail Khan of the Institute for Global Engagement and Jessica Stern, former member of the National Security Council under President Bill Clinton.

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TV/Critic's Notes
Where’s the Pilot Pizzazz? Networks Need to Impress
By Cynthia Littleton, Variety.com - May 4, 2013

As the upfronts approach, it’s hard to scope out pilot pickup buzz at the major broadcast nets this year because there are few clear heat-seekers.

The big bets of this year’s development crop were made early on in the cycle (last summer and fall) and for the most part have retained their front-runner status: ABC’s “Marvel’s Agents of Shield” with the Whedon clan; CBS’ redo of “Beverly Hills Cop”; NBC’s 22-episode throwdown for the Michael J. Fox domestic laffer; Andy Samberg and Andre Braugher in Fox’s cop comedy “Brooklyn 99″; and the union of David E. Kelley and Robin Williams in CBS’ “Crazy Ones.”

J.J. Abrams has his minimum allotment of two pilots: Fox’s robot-cops vehicle and “Believe” with Alfonso Cuaron at NBC. David Shore is said to be looking promising with ABC drama “Doubt.”

The fuzzy picture for next season’s series pickups will clear up a little this week as the broadcast nets begin their formal pilot screenings. Here’s hoping there is more sizzle on the screen than there seems to be at this stage. The nets need some flash after a ho-hum 2012-13 season.

There are notable in-demand thesps on the pilot roster this year — Toni Collette, Greg Kinnear, Josh Holloway, Debra Messing, Rainn Wilson among them — but not so much in the way of eye-popping, mold-breaking material. Procedural dramas abound, as do ensemble comedies about various combos of thirtysomething friends (“Friends” still casts a looonnng shadow).

Some of the most creative ideas have come in the form of nontraditional casting decisions.

“Office” alum Wilson is set for a dramatic turn as a misanthropic homicide detective in CBS’ “Backstrom” (it’s got a Swedish pedigree so ’nuff said), especially with Dennis Haysbert along for the ride. Christopher Meloni is leaving the serious law-and-order biz for a sitcom turn in Fox’s father-son laffer “I Suck at Girls,” which has good buzz. Wendell Pierce of “The Wire” and “Treme” is lending his mellifluous baritone to the Michael J. Fox sitcom (he’ll have to watch his language on broadcast TV).

CBS has put Beau Bridges, Margo Martindale, J.B. Smoove and Will Arnett under one roof for writer Greg Garcia’s untitled father-son comedy, which has momentum at the Eye. With that cast, who needs a script? Also gaining steam at CBS is comedy “Friends With Better Lives,” an ensembler featuring Kevin Connolly and James Van Der Beek. It is fortified by having been directed by James Burrows, who has a hell of a pilot-pickup track record.

At ABC, Adam Goldberg’s comedy with the colorful but soon-to-change title “How the **** Am I Normal” is hot enough to begin making staffing offers. At Fox there’s a lot of chatter about domestic laffer “The Gabriels” from Justin Hurwitz and Andrew Gurland.

NBC is said to be high on Jason Katims’ spin on “About a Boy.” A sleeper to watch at the Peacock is comedy “Welcome to the Family” from writer Mike Sikowitz, which revolves around a culture clash of white and Latino families brought together by an unplanned pregnancy. Writer DJ Nash’s comedy “Then Came Elvis,” featuring Harold Perrineau and Parker Posey, also has traction at the Peacock.

Drama-wise, ABC is said to be ready to roll on “Lucky 7,” a redo of a British drama about a group of supermarket employees who win the lottery. Fox likes the look of Kinnear as a charming rogue lawyer in “Rake” — a tonal successor to “House,” no doubt.

There are always a few no-brainers. ABC’s “Agents of Shield” drama is getting on the air unless we all wake up on May 14 (the day of ABC’s upfront presentation) in a parallel world where Disney doesn’t control the Marvel Universe. CBS wants Kim Raver in its stable of stars, which bodes well for the “NCIS: Red” spinoff that the network test-drove as a two-episode arc last month.

Chuck Lorre’s Mom, starring Anna Faris and Allison Janney, is pretty much bulletproof at CBS, aided by a great script and swell cast.

I’m not sure what the reviews are yet for CBS’ legal drama “The Advocate,” from “Mentalist” man Bruno Heller, but I’ll be hunting down a screener just to see Ben McKenzie (fresh off a career-making role on “Southland”) work with the always-awesome CCH Pounder.

McG’s ABC drama “Westside” is also a must-obtain, if only to see what haunts he and writer Byron Balasco chose to feature in the drama set among warring families in Venice (California, not Italia). Angelenos, of course, know the beachside hamlet is not actually a city unto itself, but we’ll let that slide for artistic license — just as long as the Warner Bros. TV production doesn’t have telltale traces of Burbank in its backdrops.

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Critic's Notes
When Divas Attack!
Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and the Battle for the Soul of Pop
By Heather Havrilesky, The New York Times' 'Riff' Column - May 5, 2013

America loves a cat fight — but characterizing the spectacular ongoing clash between the “American Idol” judges Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey as such is like calling Godzilla’s battle with Megalon a slap fight. Anyone who has watched “American Idol” for more than a few seconds this season knows that their feud is no ratings-boosting prank; contempt of this magnitude can’t be faked. When Minaj raves over a finalist, Carey winces; when Carey coos, Minaj rolls her eyes. The two divas dared to address each other directly a few weeks ago, but their talk quickly devolved into interruptions and condescension. Producers may have recruited these two in the hope that an occasional good-natured spat would reignite the spark that went out when Simon Cowell exited the show three years ago. As it turns out, Minaj and Carey trade harmless barbs about as well as North and South Korea.

That makes sense, though, because these two pop stars represent polar-opposite approaches to love, fame, femininity, self-expression, sexuality and everything in between.Carey is an old-school diva. She’s a technical perfectionist with incredible range; a master of melismatic singing. Artistically, though, her work is the equivalent of an airbrushed photograph seen through a Vaseline-smeared lens. There is no irony, no sense of humor, no sly wink to her presentation. Her overwhelming superficiality — plucked eyebrows, spilling cleavage, baby-smooth skin, Barbie-doll hair — has been completely internalized. She also uses the word “class” a lot without irony. By her meaning, “class” implies that you sit up straight and smile sweetly and bite your tongue.

Where Carey plays the perfect princess, Minaj prefers the role of evil queen. Minaj comes across like Eazy-E meets Lady Gaga; mob boss meets intergalactic gun moll. Her rapid-fire rapping is embellished with overproduced sugar-pop flourishes. And her overall fakeness — the constant rotation of purple, green and pink wigs; the visible yellow push-up bra; the seven-inch platform heels — is celebrated precisely because it’s fake. Minaj might view invocations of “class” as the Man trying to silence the street. Instead, she worships at the church of Keeping It Real: You say what you mean, swear openly, laugh wickedly and above all, never pretend to be anything different from who you really are — or at least be obvious in your pretending.

The Minaj-Carey ego collision presents an engrossing study in contrasts. Carey murmurs breathily and bats her eyes; Minaj condescends nasally. Carey dons a traditional bridal gown and veil with a 27-foot train in one of her videos; Minaj sports a green Medusa wig in a swimming pool of what looks like Pepto-Bismol, flanked by beefy men in boxer briefs, in one of hers. Carey’s album titles (“Butterfly,” “Rainbow,” “Daydream,” “Glitter,” “Charmbracelet,” “Music Box”) conjure a little girl’s vision of happiness; Minaj’s songs (“I Am Your Leader,” “I’m the Best”) conjure a bully’s delight at mercilessly dominating her foes.

The vast gulf between their perspectives comes through loud and clear in their comments as judges on “Idol”: while Carey often focuses on a performer’s talent, for Minaj, talent is malleable, and there’s always a workaround, an angle, a way to win over audiences. Where Carey gets teary-eyed over emotional songs, Minaj analyzes a performer’s lipstick shade, then openly asserts that these “fake” details matter just as much as what’s inside. (“If you wear pink lipstick, you’ll get more votes, I’m telling you.”) And while Carey prattles on about vague feelings for several minutes, then hints that producers have encouraged her to keep it brief, Minaj shows up late, leaves her sunglasses on, rolls her eyes and flirts openly with the contestants (“I am obsessed with you”; “You’re my wife”). She reduces her big thoughts to colorful sound bites. In short: Carey is a teenage girl’s rambling diary. Minaj is a Twitter feed.

The more I’ve marveled over the chasm between Minaj and Carey, the more I realize it mirrors the differences between the first season of “American Idol” and the version of the show that’s being broadcast today — and reflects just how much our notions about talent, authenticity and what makes a celebrity worthy of our attention have shifted over the past 11 years.

When “American Idol” first appeared in 2002, it was billed as a nationwide talent search. The opening credits depicted literally faceless pop stars holding microphones, and the “Your Face Here” implication was clear from the start: whoever you are, if you have enough talent, we can form you into a bright, shining star, Pygmalion-style. The hosts, Ryan Seacrest and Brian Dunkleman (remember him?), paced the stage like a duo of Max Headroom clones, speculating that America’s next superstar “could be parking cars or waiting tables” right now.

The promise was that the first winner of “American Idol” would be molded into a marketable recording artist. This was a familiar challenge for the producer Simon Fuller, who spent much of the ’90s managing that gaggle of Eliza Doolittles known as the Spice Girls. The harsh comments of Simon Cowell, the “Yo, Dog” pitch-sensitivity of Randy Jackson, the incoherent gushing of Paula Abdul: all were meant to “train” the most talented contestants on how to look, sound and act like a pop star. With a nod to the manipulation in play, judges often remarked on the “believability” of a given performer, saying things like “You are now the pop singer” or “I’m not buying it,” as if the challenge were to shove raw talent into various arbitrary styles and trick audiences into experiencing it as authentic. Watching often felt like being in on a grand experiment: Which of these adorable woodland creatures can be transformed, by industry supergeniuses, into a trained circus animal?

“American Idol” has evolved since then. After 12 seasons of “Idol,” plus the rise of copycat shows like “The X Factor” and “The Voice” (not to mention the herd of amateur singers performing on YouTube), the idea of a nationwide talent search no longer offers the same novelty. Now “American Idol” contestants arrive with their own songs and styles and notions about what they want from their careers. They’re beat-boxers, disco-dancing gospel crooners, country rockers and flamethrowing folk singers. The show’s playful, small-beans talent-show atmosphere is gone. Today’s weekly “Idol” performances often feature dizzying light and video effects, dry ice, wind instruments and full gospel choirs.

And rather than discussing how to package certain contestants, judges now simply tell their favorites, “You’re the whole package!” Talk of raw potential has been supplanted by statements about who is already a star and who will never be a star. “Your voice is amazing, as always,” a judge will begin, before getting to the real critique, which usually centers on originality, conviction or artistic choices. The judges aren’t looking for a vocalist who might churn out Christmas albums. They want a truly original performer with his or her own signature style.

Outspoken weirdos and self-proclaimed superfreaks like the wild-haired drummer Zoanette Johnson and the geeky rocker Charlie Askew — who might’ve been relegated to the “American Idol” laugh reel in the early years — were Top 20 finalists this season. Authenticity is repeatedly lauded; mimicking unfamiliar genres is discouraged. When one finalist, Angie Miller, sang a song she wrote herself, the judges raved. But when she tried to veer off the expected path and get funky with a cover of “Shop Around,” Minaj told her: “Don’t try to come out here and give us another side. We ain’t asked for another side yet!”

On the surface, the show’s evolution from pop-star factory to unique-snowflake day camp merely reflects a shift in tastes. After all, America has clearly fallen out of love with the ’90s-era beauty-pageant style of pop vocalist belting out megahits. The Mariah Carey model — a big talent who must have seemed like a blank slate when she presented her demo as an unknown 18-year-old to her eventual producer (and husband) Tommy Mottola — is no longer the preferred path to fame. Pop stars used to be Barbie dolls; now they’re Ugly Dolls. Even the bubble-gum stalwart Katy Perry is trussed up in alien garb, like the dictator of a lady planet on “Star Trek.” Think of young Britney Spears, the fresh-faced student singing about love in a high-school hallway. Now compare her to Lady Gaga, who rarely appears in public without pleather pants, elevator boots and the elaborate hairstyle of a Monster High doll. Freaky fakeness on the outside — bouffant hairdos, gigantic shoes, bizarre outfits — is now interpreted as a sign of strength and realness on the inside.

Why? It’s an ascendant belief in the power of identity. Playing up your oddest quirks and most bizarre tics has become a way of signaling to the world that you believe in yourself in the extreme and refuse to be molded into a generic, consumable (and disposable) product. It’s the embodiment of the credo that Minaj told to Jay Leno: “When a person knows who they are, it’s like they can do no wrong.” Maybe, thanks to the online democratization of culture, talent and good looks aren’t enough to impress us anymore. Only exotic weirdos like the Korean pop star Psy can grab our attention. Or as Kelly Clarkson herself — the original “American Idol” winner, now clad in a glow-in-the-dark “Jetsons” dress and lizardy eye makeup — sang during a guest appearance on the show a few weeks ago, “We are all misfits living in a world on fire.”

It’s easy to cheer for the evolution of “American Idol” from Carey to Minaj; from manufacturer of pop widgets to the world’s most expensive group-therapy session. The show is certainly more entertaining. But there’s also a strange feeling of determinism in play, a sense that a performer can’t change his or her destiny. You’re either already a star or you need to get the hell off the stage immediately (as Minaj ordered three male contestants to do halfway through the season). Give us your real — no matter how weird — or take a hike.

And “American Idol” voters have embraced this idea: Lazaro Arbos, a Ricky Ricardo look-alike with a stutter who was at once the worst singer and the oddest, most unfamiliar human onstage, somehow made it all the way to the Top 6, despite open dismay from the judges.

This is still American pop music, of course, and we will still emerge with an attractive, talented pop star at the end of this season. But a deeper part of this cultural shift feels irreversible: we’ve glimpsed the man behind the curtain so many times that we aren’t intrigued by the booming voice and the flames shooting into the air anymore. We don’t want fake that’s not acknowledged as such. Fake that calls attention itself, that celebrates a person’s outsider status, feels easier to get behind. And maybe — just maybe! — that means we’ll learn to see the world as a vast patchwork of misfits, a place where knowing who you are is more important than becoming what someone else wants you to be.

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Critic's Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - May 5, 2013

Sundance, 7:00 p.m.
In case you haven’t seen this unusual, involving Sundance miniseries yet, tonight the network repeats Episodes 1-3 in a convenient mini-marathon. It’s the story of a Death Row convict released after 19 years in prison – and it’s a mood piece that’s impossible to forget once you’ve seen it. Aden Young stars. By the way, this series has been renewed, which is very good news.

PBS, 8:00 p.m. ET

Here’s another series that you should be watching, especially if you’re a Downton Abbey fan, because Call the Midwife is loaded with many of the same charming traits: quirky characters, class differences, historical backdrops, and unexpected bursts of both humor and drama. Tonight is Episode 6 of Season 2, but it’s never too late to dive in. Check local listings.

HBO, 9:00 p.m. ET

Last week’s episode ended with news of upcoming nuptials for two members of the Lannister clan, but none of it was received as good news. Both Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Cersei (Lena Headey) were ordered to accept, and wed, the mates just chosen for them – and in this series, the penalty for disobeying an order is the same as the only way to avoid one. Sudden violence. So tonight, watch out.

HBO, 10:00 p.m. ET

This comedy series has sharpened considerably this season – enough to earn it a recommendation this week, as a photo of Selina (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) appearing disengaged during a moment of political crisis becomes an embarrassing Internet sensation. Not her first, and surely not her last.

AMC, 10:00 p.m. ET

This season’s shows, so far, have unfolded at a slow, deliberate pace. Long-time fans of this show, by now, are apt to assess, and accept, this as the calm before the storm – and it’s a good bet that a storm will arrive on tonight’s episode. In what form, I can’t say. It’s only a guess, but I feel we’re due for a 1968 bombshell right about… now.

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TV Sports/Nielsen Notes
Kentucky Derby Numbers Up With Orb Win; NBC Matches Best Ratings In 21 Years
By the Deadline.com Team - May 5, 2013

Orb wasn’t the only one to score big in the first stop in the Triple Crown. NBC Sports drew a 10.4 overnight rating/23 share for the race portion from 6-7 PM ET, tying 2010′s numbers for the best Kentucky Derby in 21 years. The coverage was also up 16% from last year. Pre-race figures were also boosted in NBC’s coverage spanning 4 PM to 6 PM ET. Between 4-4:30 PM ET coverage topped network-highs (3.1/8) since NBC’s Kentucky Derby coverage in that time frame began in 2008; from 4:30-5 PM ET ratings were also network-best (4.1/10) in that block since 2007.

Pre-race coverage (5-6 PM ET) was up 15% from 2012 with a 6.2/15 overnight rating. Louisville, home of the 138-year-old event, was #1 in metered markets (43.7/69). Winning thoroughbred Orb will next chase the Triple Crown at the Preakness Stakes on May 18.

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Critic's Notes
Seitz on The Office's Late Recovery
By Matt Zoeller Seitz, Vulture.com (NY Magazine) - May 5, 2013

Few things on TV are as heartening as signs of life in a show that seemed creatively dead. The Office is this year’s surprise resurrectee. No, it hasn’t become a great sitcom again; it hasn’t been one since season five, though it continued to have its moments until the finale of season seven, including the one in which Steve Carell’s Michael Scott took off his body mike at an airport security checkpoint to share an inaudible, private good-bye with Jenna Fischer’s Pam. This year, though, The Office has taken the spirit of that moment and built the back half of its final season around it.

The change was signaled by a twist so unexpected that it seemed less a moment than a rupture. It happened at the end of episode twelve, “Customer Loyalty”: Jim (John Krasinski), mostly AWOL from husband and dad duties while managing a start-up in Philadelphia, chews Pam out on the phone for failing to tape a school recital. After they hang up, the camera lingers on Pam’s tears for a cruel moment; then a handsome boom operator named Brian, initially heard offscreen like a guardian angel, tells the crew to stop shooting so he can comfort Pam, kicking off a crush story line that hastens the decay of Pam and Jim’s once rock-solid marriage. More significant than Brian’s Galahad moment is the slow pan away from him and Pam, showing the camera crew that’s been invisible until now.

That shot signals The Office’s last-minute transformation from a joke sitcom about a perpetually unfinished documentary (the updated version of Murphy Brown’s never-quite-painted apartment) to a show about what it means to film and be filmed, and see reality transformed into entertainment. Like Ricky Gervais’s original, British version of The Office, NBC’s remake is a fake documentary, with whipsaw handheld ­cinematography and straight-into-the-camera confessions and riffs. And like the original—and other mock docs, such as NBC’s Parks and Recreation and ABC’s Modern Family—it traded on those documentary tics without every entirely committing to them. In theory, when we watched The Office, we were seeing selected footage from a work-in-­progress, a nonfiction film about a boring regional division of Dunder Mifflin. But the crew just kept taping and taping and taping. As one season became six became nine, the notion that The Office’s onscreen action was “real” became a shared put-on between the show and the audience—an existential joke that made the characters seem like inmates in an earthbound purgatory or, as the dimwitted Kevin put it, “specimens in a human zoo.” Jim, Pam, Andy, Erin, Dwight, and the gang were theoretically miked up at all times, even at home, constantly surrounded by cameras and boom operators. The exercise seemed to have no end and no point. The unspoken conditions of Dunder Mifflin’s daily existence were ludicrous, amusing, and sad, and lent what might otherwise
have been another worn-out NBC comedy a lingering gravitas.

This Pirandello-esque flourish, though, is something else entirely. There are times when a boom pole is just a boom pole, but this isn’t one of those times. When a warehouse worker saw Pam avenging his vandalism of her mural by painting a “trail of poops” on his truck, he charged at her in a rage, and Brian’s boom pole was pressed into service as a knightly lance. The dashing crewman got fired for stepping over the unspoken filmmaker-subject boundary—like an earthly version of the non-interfering angel of Wings of Desire joining the mortals for love’s sake. In future episodes, Pam visited him at home (the camera peering through his windows, Peeping Tom–style) and even joined Brian for an awkward lunch with Jim. The latter was supposed to be a double date, but Brian’s girlfriend ditched him, obviously because he was becoming obsessed with a married camera subject; Jim picked up on their chemistry and tearfully confronted his wife in the parking lot, one of many instances of white-bread-­Cassavetes domestic drama cutting through the show’s standard miasma of cute.

Even more unnerving was when the workers gathered around a computer to watch the first promos of a show they never thought they’d see and expressed alarm that private interactions had been caught on camera, then cut down to punchy tidbits. These moments gave a once light show an undertow of panic. When it wasn’t clowning around with office pranks or laboriously introducing the cast of the since-aborted spinoff, The Farm, The Office found something fresh to say about voyeurism and the culture of continuous surveillance: Now we’re so used to being continuously taped and tracked that we’ve stopped thinking about it and started acting naturally, or “naturally.” We’re comfortable because we believe the data and footage will never be used for anything; if it’s all going into a void, we can still shape the narrative of our lives, or at least our self-serving version of the narrative, without encountering a rebuttal.

Now, suddenly, everyone on The Office is dealing with a counter-narrative. “Wait,” Phyllis asks in alarm, “so they were filming all the time, even when we didn’t know it?” The horrible realization that their lives have become entertainment makes them self-conscious in a way they haven’t been since (one imagines, vainly applying logic) the first time a crew member miked them for sound. “It would be a good idea for you not to trust in your own reality, the one you breathe and feel today within yourself,” wrote Pirandello in Six Characters in Search of an Author, “because—like that of yesterday—it is ­destined to reveal itself as an ­illusion ­tomorrow.”

Thursdays, 8:30 p.m. NBC.

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TV Notes
‘The Big C’ Faces Its Own Mortalit
By Jon Weisman, Variety.com Team - May 5, 2013

If there’s a business angle to the reinvention of the half-hour episodic comedy “The Big C” as a fourhour dramatic miniseries for its farewell season, it’s this: It’s good business to keep viewers happy.

Ratings for the show were nothing special in 2012, even by pay cable standards: roughly half a million overall for the third-season finale in June. But rather than end things unceremoniously and leave loyalists unfulfilled, Showtime and the producers of the Laura Linney starrer switched gears to bring “Big C” to an organic denouement.

Season three could have been the series’ finale, Showtime entertainment prexy David Nevins told Variety, “but we wanted to find a way to give closure to the people who had been watching. I think it’s important as a premium service that we treat the individual audience (for each show) with respect and care.”

In the case of “Big C,” that involved a growing realization that the final episodes of the skein, which revolves around a woman coming to grips with cancer, would involve a delicate shift in tone. Showrunner Jenny Bicks said producers didn’t approach that shift as a change in genre as much as a gain in the ability to “live in the silences” a bit more with the hourlong segs, running April 29-May 20.

“I would say it’s probably less tonally comedic,” Bicks said, “(though) there’s still plenty of comedy. We’re certainly hitting some dark places. I think we just wanted to let everyone breathe a bit.”

Another consideration was the desire to move faster through time. Previously, the show’s storytelling spanned just three months in the characters’ lives per TV season.

“I feel really good about the way the episodes came out,” Nevins said, “and I think the format choice gave a very interesting shape to a show that has always been slightly groundbreaking: a comedy about mortality.”

The decision to shift the format to hourlong segs was in keeping with the tonal shift; the difference in the cost of producing four hours compared with 10 half-hours, as “Big C” did in its previous three seasons, was negligible. The longer format suited the nature of the story, and made the episodes more marketable for Showtime as an event finale. Bicks noted that the writing staff consequently became more streamlined for Bicks and series creator Darlene Hunt.

“Basically the only writers were (Hunt) and myself,” Bicks said. “We had seven writers at (the show’s) peak. … (This) was very much more an intimate process; she and I knew the direction we wanted to go.”

The move to four hours also had the byproduct of putting “Big C” in the Primetime Emmys movie-miniseries category. As a mini, the show will not be competing against such Showtime teammates as half-hours “Nurse Jackie” and “House of Lies” in the comedy series category for Emmy recognition.

If anything, “Big C” has been another show that makes the case for the Emmys to have a dramedy category.

But the pursuit of awards wasn’t the put of the format shift.

“This really felt like we’re doing it the way we want to do it, and we don’t have any regrets about how we went out,” Bicks said. “I guess like life, if you can say that, you’ve done something right.”

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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 - Dancing with the Stars (120 min., LIVE)
10:01PM - Castle
* * * *
11:35PM - Jimmy Kimmel Live! (Edie Falco; Rod Stewart performs)
12:37AM - Nightline

8PM - How I Met Your Mother
8:30PM - Rules of Engagement
9PM - 2 Broke Girls
9:30PM - Mike & Molly
10PM - Hawaii Five-0
* * * *
11:35PM - Late Show with David Letterman (John Krasinski; Kerry Washington; James Blake performs)
12:37AM - The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (Isla Fisher; Jim Rash)

8PM - The Voice (120 min.)
10:01PM - Revolution
* * * *
11:35PM - The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (Magic Johnson; journalist Savannah Guthrie; Fall Out Boy performs)
12:37AM - Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (Steve Martin; Jenna Fischer; "All-Star Celebrity Apprentice'' castoff; Steve Martin and Edie Brickell perform)
1:37AM - Last Call with Carson Daly (Comic Amy Schumer; David Peterson; Gold Fields perform)

8PM - Rihanna 777 (Special)
9PM - Bones
(R - Jan. 14)

(check your local listing for starting time/programming)
8PM - Antiques Roadshow: Rapid City
9PM - Antiques Roadshow: Vintage Secaucus
(R - Jun. 25)
10PM - Independent Lens: Seeking Asian Female

8PM - Porque el Amor Manda
9PM - Amores Verdaderos
9:55PM - Qué Bonito Amor

8PM - Oh Sit!
9PM - 90210

8PM - Pasión Prohibida
9PM - La Patrona
10PM - El Señor de los Cielos

11PM - The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Journalist Christiane Amanpour)
11:31PM - The Colbert Report (Author Robert Caro)

11PM - Conan (Keith Urban; Guillermo Diaz)

11PM - Chelsea Lately (Kat Dennings; Brad Wollack; Annie Lederman; Kurt Braunohler)
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TV Review
‘Dear Mom, Love Cher’
An enduring star gives her mom, aspiring entertainer Georgia Holt, a fond tribute for Mother's Day
By David Hinckley, New York Daily News

While the rest of us send cards or maybe flowers to Mom for Mother Day’s, Cher arranges to have her mother’s life chronicled in a professional documentary.

Cher also arranges to have it shown on Lifetime.

Even before we get to the part where Cher also had 30-year-old tapes remastered so her mother’s first record album finally can be released, we’re thinking, wow, it must be nice to be Cher’s mother.

Or Cher.

Either way, Cher is one good daughter.

And this gentle 42-minute look at the life of Georgia Holt is pleasant, sentimental and sweet.

It’s so affectionate that it’s not even a buzz kill when Cher, her sister and Georgia recount how Grandpa, who was a dynamiter for the railroad, blew himself up one day.

Holt was born into Depression-era poverty in Arkansas and moved as a child to similar poverty in California. She vowed she would not always live like that, and when this documentary pans across the Malibu waterfront property where it is being filmed, it’s clear that vow worked out.

Holt didn’t get everything she wanted. She really wanted a showbiz career, but she only made it to the fringes.

She sang briefly with Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. She won a beauty contest. She had small walk-on roles on “I Love Lucy” and “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.”

The album she recorded in 1979 was shelved.

There were also six marriages.

Yet for all that, Holt seems happy. She seems pleased, not resentful, that Cher became the star she didn’t. She seems to enjoy the good life she lives.

Cher seems happy to show us she’s enjoying it. Cher is a good daughter.

Network / Air Date: Monday at 10 p.m, Lifetime
Rating: ★★★ (out of five)

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Originally Posted by DoubleDAZ View Post

And how much does that cost and how much storage space does it take and how many folks can afford to buy all their favorites? James Bond will still be available via streaming, just not from Netflix, and MGM, WB, etc., will get all the fees for their properties. Granted, we'll now have to subscribe to one or more new services, but I've been saying that was going to happen for a long time and I'm okay with it.

I have a bookcase in a corner in my computer room with my DVDs on it. That way it can't be seen from the main part of the house. I have most of the James Bond movies on DVD. Amazon is selling them for $5 a piece. Most of the movies that the basic cable channels show can be bought for $5 a piece. I have saved over $5,000 from not having pay TV the last 5 years. Which is twice the amount of money I have spent on DVDs the last 11 years.
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Originally Posted by dad1153 View Post

(quoting from "Where’s the Pilot Pizzazz? Networks Need to Impress" by Cynthia Littleton on Variety.com)

A sleeper to watch at the Peacock is comedy “Welcome to the Family” from writer Mike Sikowitz, which revolves around a culture clash of white and Latino families brought together by an unplanned pregnancy.
That was the premise of ABC's 1983 midseason replacement sitcom "Condo," which lasted thirteen weeks.
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Critic's Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - May 6, 2013

CBS, 8:00 p.m.

In this penultimate new show of the season, Robin (Cobie Smulders), as part of her wedding preparations, goes on a quest to recover something she buried, long ago, in Central Park. Set the Wayback Machine for another flashback, with younger Robin and her dad, Robin Sr., played by the always worth watching Ray Wise.

NBC, 8:00 p.m. ET

Today this show begins a new stage – the playoffs, which are noteworthy because they’re live, and thus out of control of the producers and the ever-inventive editors. This is where these musical competition reality shows either achieve liftoff or start flaming back to earth, so it’s worth watching to see how this year’s panel of judges handle the specific demands of live TV. (Over on American Idol, for example, Mariah Carey has yet to learn even the most basic truths about keeping your remarks brief and playing well with others.) Oh, and one other reason to watch this live show tonight? Former judge Cee Lo Green returns – to sing.

ABC Family, 8:00 p.m. ET

Made in 1950, this full-length Walt Disney classic continues to enchant, casting its spell on every generation of young girls who encounter it. That may or may not be a good thing – but Disney movies, like fairy tales, are a seminal part of childhood. What really matters is that parents are there to talk them through the thorny parts. (With Cinderella, for example, why wish for a Prince? Who not eliminate the middle man, and simply wish to be Queen?)

Lifetime, 10:00 p.m. ET

In the accompanying photo [CLICK LINK BELOW], that’s Cher at left, either yawning widely or reaching for a very early high note. Holding the former Cherilyn Sarkisian is her mother, Georgia Holt, the subject of this often touching, perhaps even surprisingly entertaining Mother’s Day special. Cher, her 86-year-old mom, and Cher’s younger sister, Georgeanne, all swap stories and share photos and old movies in this one-hour special. Its goal is to push mom’s new record album, but the story of Cher and her family tree is the real reason to tune in. When Georgia was born – in Arkansas, so her name wasn’t inspired by geography – her dad was 21, but her mom was only 13. And that’s just the start of this story.

Sundance, 10:00 p.m. ET

Tonight’s episode is called “Plato’s Cave,” which refers to a touching conversation Daniel (Aden Young) has with his mom. The crucial conversation in this installment, though, is between Daniel and Tawney (Adelaide Clemens), who connect on a level both intellectual and, even more surprisingly, spiritual.


* * * *

TV Review
Lifetime's 'Dear Mom, Love Cher' Has Georgia On Its Mind
By Ed Bark, TVWorthWatching.com - May 5, 2013

Cher is not reluctant to put her own name in the title for TV tributes to others, as she doubly did for 1998’s Sonny & Me: Cher Remembers.

Even so, Dear Mom, Love Cher provides ample room for 86-year-old Georgia Holt, who had the then Cherilyn Sarkisian by the first of her six husbands, John Sarkisian. The one-hour documentary film, which is consistently interesting and revelatory, premieres Monday, May 6 at 10 p.m. ET on Lifetime.

Cher is Cher, though. So the film’s first words are from an off-camera woman who trumpets, “Ladies and gentlemen, the one, the only — Cher!”

Cher, 66, and her 61-year-old kid sister, Georganne LaPiere Bartylak (from Georgia’s third marriage to John Southall), are soon seen on a couch together in a collective convivial mood. Cher occasionally interjects, telling Georgia at one point, “I think we can walk the narrow razor of white trash only so long.” All three then laugh uproariously.

Georgia, who double-dipped with two marriages to two of her six husbands, once had a budding acting/singing career that never quite jelled amid the chaos of her recurring man trouble. She was born Jackie Jean Crouch on June 9, 1926 in Kensett, Arkansas. Dad was 21 at the time. But her mother, Lynda, was just 13.

“I’m a child that’s never grown up because I never got to be a child,” Georgia says. She’s still very much a looker with a trim figure and sporting a piled high platinum blonde wig. Numerous adjustments also have been made to Cher, of course. But that’s off-topic in the swiftly moving Dear Mom, Love Cher, which easily could have used another hour.

The archival film and black-and-white still photos are terrific throughout, with mom telling tales about her friendship with Lucille Ball, the crush Ozzie Nelson seemed to have on her and how close she came to aborting Cher rather than returning to a miserable marriage. Georgia got as far as a clinic before deciding she couldn’t go through with it. “So that’s how you’re here,” she tells Cher.

Georgia also recalls the time she was almost cast in the movie The Asphalt Jungle. But at the last minute, the role went to an unknown named Marilyn Monroe.

In 1981, while dating a man 20 years her junior — Craig Spencer — she resurrected her singing career at his prompting and recorded a country-western album with former members of the late Elvis Presley’s band. But it was never released until tapes were recently discovered in her garage. As of Tuesday this week, Honky Tonk Woman at last is a reality. It also includes a duet with Cher, “I’m Just Your Yesterday,” recorded in 2011. The film fleetingly showcases Georgia’s still resonant singing voice.

“It happened just as it was supposed to,” she says during a current-day conversation with Craig Spencer. They hold hands and seem to be in throes of a perfect Hollywood ending, even though Georgia has never married him.

Dear Mom, Love Cher is both a pleasant and evocative way to spend an hour. Once upon a time — and seemingly all the time — Georgia and her pre-teen daughters always seemed to be dirt broke. But they made something out of near-nothing, with Cher a household name, Georganne a successful realtor after an acting career in the ‘70s and ‘80s, and Georgia re-blossoming rather than withering on a vine.

Her grandchildren by Cher — Chaz Bono and Elijah Blue Allman — also appear briefly in the film. “She’s always accepted me,” says Chaz, whose gender transition has drawn more public attention than his mom in recent years.

Many viewers might be left wanting more after this very watchable film breezes by. That’s the Old Hollywood way, and Dear Mom, Love Cher makes a virtue of it.


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TV Notes
‘Cops’ Cancelled By Fox, Picked Up By Spike TV
By Nellie Andreeva, Deadline.com Team - May 6, 2013

With little fanfare, Saturday’s hourlong season finale of Cops actually marked the venerable docu-reality series’ last original airing on Fox. The network signaled that the end was near when it cut back significantly the order for this season to accommodate sports coverage on Saturday. Cops‘ current 25th season did not premiere until December 15 after more than half a year off the air. Cops marked its 850th episode in February, and, with no plans for the show to return to Fox next season, the producers started looking for a new home. They’ve found it at Spike TV, where Season 26 of Cops will debut this fall. The news of Spike’s acquisition was first reported by TV Guide. This marks the end of an era as Cops was one of the programs that established the Fox brand and the longest-running Fox series currently on the air.

Its cancellation comes two years after Fox ended Cops’ long-time companion, America’s Most Wanted, as a regular series. After a two-season stint on Lifetime, AMW again is looking for a new home after the cable network cancelled it a month ago. Cops ended its run on Fox respectably, drawing 2.9 million viewers and a 0.9/3 for its finale Saturday, the second-highest-rated program of the night in 18-40 behind CBS’ 48 Hours, which now is left as the only regularly scheduled Saturday series on the broadcast networks. (It has already been renewed by CBS for next season.)

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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)
Racing pushes Fox past CBS on Sunday
Averages a 2.1 in 18-49s thanks to NASCAR runover
By Toni Fitzgerald, Media Life Magazine - May 6, 2013

A couple of shows saw week-to-week gains for their season finales last night, and Fox won the evening thanks to NASCAR runover.

The network averaged a 2.1 adults 18-49 rating and 6 share in primetime, according to Nielsen overnights, peaking with a 2.7 from 8 to 8:30 p.m., when the race finished up.

That shifted Fox’s shows back, with “The Simpsons” (1.7) starting at 8:25 p.m., followed by “Bob’s Burgers” (2.0), “Family Guy” (2.1) and “American Dad” (2.1).

Elsewhere last night, ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” scored its best rating in six weeks with a 2.2 at 8 p.m., tying for first with Fox and the first hour of CBS’s finale of “The Amazing Race.”

ABC’s “Revenge” grew 6 percent week over week at 9 p.m. to a 1.8, while CBS’s finale of “The Mentalist” drew a 1.7, up 6 percent from last week as well.

“Race’s” two-hour finale drew a 2.3, off 4 percent from last week.

CBS was second behind Fox for the night at 1.9/5, ABC third at 1.6/5, NBC fourth at 1.2/3, Univision fifth at 0.9/3 and Telemundo sixth at 0.6/2.

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-eight percent of Nielsen households have DVRs.

At 7 p.m. Fox led with a 2.1 for NASCAR overrun, followed by ABC with a 1.5 for “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” CBS was third with a 1.2 for “60 Minutes,” Univision and NBC tied for fourth at 0.7, Univision for “Aqui y Ahora” and NBC for a repeat of “The Voice,” and Telemundo was sixth with a 0.5 for “La Voz Kids.”

At 8 p.m. ABC, CBS and Fox all tied for first at 2.2, ABC for “Time,” CBS for “Race” and Fox for the end of NASCAR and “Simpsons.” NBC was fourth with a 1.1 for more of its “Voice” rerun, Univision fifth with a 0.9 for “Nuestra Belleza Latina” and Telemundo sixth with a 0.7 for more “La Voz.”

CBS led at 9 p.m. with a 2.3 for more “Race,” with Fox second with a 2.1 for “Burgers” and “Guy.” ABC was third with a 1.8 for “Revenge.” NBC and Univision tied for fourth at 1.3, NBC for “Celebrity Apprentice” and Univision for more “Latina,” and Telemundo was sixth with a 0.6 for the movie “The Incredibles.”

At 10 p.m. CBS and Fox tied for first at 1.7, CBS for “Mentalist” and Fox for “Dad.” NBC was third with a 1.6 for more “Apprentice,” ABC fourth with a 0.9 for the finale of “Red Widow” (up 29 percent from last week), Univision fifth with a 0.8 for “Sal y Pimienta” and Telemundo sixth with a 0.6 for its movie.

CBS finished first for the night among households with a 5.9 average overnight rating and a 10 share. ABC was second at 3.6/6, Fox third at 3.4/6, NBC fourth at 2.5/4, Univision fifth at 1.3/2 and Telemundo sixth at 0.7/1.

post #86694 of 93720
Business/Legal Notes
Aereo Seeks to Preempt CBS Legal Action in Bosto
By Todd Spangler, Variety.com - May 6, 2013

Aereo filed a request in New York federal court Monday seeking a declaratory ruling that its Internet TV service is legal, citing CBS execs’ tweets and statements threatening to sue the startup over its expansion into Boston.

“The fact that CBS did not prevail in their efforts to enjoin Aereo in their existing federal lawsuit does not entitle them to a do-over in another jurisdiction,” Aereo spokeswoman Virginia Lam said. “We are hopeful that any such efforts to commence duplicative lawsuits to try to seek a different outcome will be rejected by the courts.”

Aereo filed the motion in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Asked for comment, CBS head of communications Dana McClintock — who is cited in the Aereo lawsuit — said: “These public relations and legal maneuvers do not change the fundamentally illegal nature of Aereo’s supposed business. The issue of unauthorized streaming of copyrighted television programming is now being contested in the 2nd Circuit and the 9th Circuit, and wherever Aereo attempts to operate there will be vigorous challenges to its Illegal business model.”

Last month, Aereo said it would bring service to Beantown, after launching in New York last year. In response, McClintock sent out a number of tweets indicating the Eye would sue the startup over the Boston launch. CBS topper Les Moonves, on company’s earnings call last week, also said “we’ll sue [Aereo] again” in other markets.

Aereo’s lawsuit cites several tweets from McClintock, including these:

@AereoTV launching May 15 in Boston (1st circuit), Question: WILL broadcasters sue or wait for NYC 2nd circuit case to play out??

@RichBTIG We will sue, and stealing our signal will be found to be illegal in Boston, just as it will be everywhere else.

Aereo uses dime-size, dedicated antennas to receive local TV broadcasts, then streams live or recorded programs online. Startup, whose major backer is IAC chairman Barry Diller, argues over-the-air TV is free for any consumer to access and that Aereo’s service merely provides antenna reception on behalf of customers.

CBS and other broadcasters filed copyright-infringement lawsuits against Aereo, claiming the company must pay retransmission fees the way cable and satellite TV providers do. Federal courts have twice turned down broadcasters’ requests for injunctions that would shut Aereo down.

Since then, broadcast TV execs have threatened to remove popular content from broadcast channels — or convert them to pay channels — if Aereo prevails in court. Earlier this year, Aereo announced plans to expand to 22 markets in 2013, extending as far west as Salt Lake City.

post #86695 of 93720
TV Review
'Seeking Asian Woman' (PBS)
Foreign Bride as a Fetish and a Person
By Mike Hale, The New York Times - May 6, 2013

Steven is a 60-year-old parking-garage attendant who lives in a small apartment above a store in the Northern California suburbs. He’s white, which is significant because he has what is politely known as an Asian fetish and popularly known as yellow fever. “They’re all so beautiful,” he says, looking at a display of thumbnail images of prospective Asian brides.

In the documentary “Seeking Asian Female,” showing on Monday night in the PBS “Independent Lens” series, Steven manages to persuade Sandy, a 30-year-old office worker from Shenzen, China, to come to the United States to marry him. And his good fortune doesn’t end there. The film’s director, who becomes immersed in Steven and Sandy’s lives and deeply implicated in the torturous course of their relationship, is Debbie Lum, an attractive young Chinese-American. When a friend of Steven’s comes to the apartment to meet Sandy, he sees Ms. Lum behind the camera and exclaims, “You’ve got two of them!”

Ms. Lum indicates that she set out to profile a man obsessed with Asian women in order to understand a phenomenon that has weighed on her own life: “I’ve been stared at, hit on and harassed by so many men like Steven,” she declares. “Seeking Asian Female” doesn’t have a lot to offer as anthropology, however. The nature of Asian fetishism remains as mysterious, or perhaps as obvious, as ever. Where the film succeeds is as an acerbic romantic comedy with Ms. Lum as a bumbling Boswell, alternately speeding the course of love or throwing up roadblocks.

As Steven and Sandy make wedding plans — her K-1 visa gives them four months to marry — fights erupt over money (he doesn’t have much) and whether he’s still infatuated with an earlier Chinese pen pal. Ms. Lum not only records these events but also becomes a semi-willing facilitator with divided loyalties, sympathetic to both her original subject and to the resourceful young woman stranded in a country whose language she barely speaks.

The dramatic arc of Steven and Sandy’s relationship (no spoilers here) is mildly suspenseful but also pretty familiar. Much more interesting is Ms. Lum’s willingness to portray herself as less than sympathetic, acknowledging — to some extent — her own preconceptions and serving as a stand-in for a skeptical and conflicted audience.

Though Steven’s predilections and creepy good cheer make her queasy, Ms. Lum is also suspicious of Sandy’s motives: “What kind of woman would move countries to marry a man she met online and barely knows?” Her knowledge of Chinese and the forced intimacy of filming conspire to make her Sandy’s best friend and lifeline, however; not sure how to handle the situation, she blunders along, warning Sandy at one point that Steven may not be “the guy you imagined him to be” and asking her at another, “Did you really just want the green card?”

Ms. Lum’s exploration of her assumptions goes only so far — ideas about sex and love are on the table, but issues of class and power that seem just as relevant to the story don’t receive the same attention. While Ms. Lum means to challenge stereotypes about cross-cultural romance and sexuality, her portrayal of Sandy often seems to echo a set of conventions about Asian women involving stubbornness, jealousy and manipulation.

What keeps this 54-minute film consistently engaging is Sandy herself, wary, pragmatic and, much to Ms. Lum’s good fortune, an absolute natural in front of the camera. Anyone with an Asian female in the family will feel a tug when she tells Ms. Lum, after another epic fight with Steven, “I kept wondering, has he eaten?”

On PBS stations on Monday night (check local listings).

post #86696 of 93720
Originally Posted by Jedi Master View Post

I have a bookcase in a corner in my computer room with my DVDs on it. That way it can't be seen from the main part of the house. I have most of the James Bond movies on DVD. Amazon is selling them for $5 a piece. Most of the movies that the basic cable channels show can be bought for $5 a piece. I have saved over $5,000 from not having pay TV the last 5 years. Which is twice the amount of money I have spent on DVDs the last 11 years.
No need to get defensive. I wasn't knocking it, I was asking because I'm considering giving up pay TV too when our daughter moves. I'm leaning toward an HTPC for DVR of OTA programs and NetFlix vs DVDs. I'm still undecided about news, food and DIY channels though.
post #86697 of 93720
TV/Nielsen Notes
Can Jeff Zucker Rebuild CNN From 6 A.M. Up?
By Jethro Nededog, TheWrap.com - May 6, 2013

Jeff Zucker's four-month tenure running CNN has been marred by failed programming experiments and embarrassing reporting gaffes.

But he has one weapon that he’s hoping will turn CNN's fortunes around: The morning news show, called "New Day," that seeks to recreate the success of NBC’s "Today" show when Zucker made it the most-watched, most profitable morning news show on television.

"New Day" will premiere on Monday, June 10 and will be co-hosted by the handsome Chris Cuomo; the whip-smart blonde, "Situation Room's" Kate Bolduan; and a vaguely ethnic news anchor, KTLA’s Michaela Pereira.

Does any of this sound familiar to you? (Calling Matt Lauer, Katie Couric and Ann Curry.)

"I think it's going to take a long time to turn around CNN's morning show," Brian Stelter, the New York Times media reporter and author of "Top of the Morning" about the morning news wars, told TheWrap. "I hope that his boss and his lieutenants have the patience that's necessary. Zucker knows that because he was patient with the 'Today’ show in the '90s. So, if anybody can be patient enough to get a following to CNN's morning show, it's Jeff Zucker."

Zucker's first few months at CNN have been a mix of gaffes and successes. Ratings took off during the search for the Boston Bombing suspects, but the network was the first of several outlets to wrongly report an arrest, days early. The network’s reporting on a guilty verdict of teenaged defendants in a Steubenville rape case also drew criticism.

Internally, he wasted no time installing his own people in key executive roles, bringing in Allison Gollust, his former PR right hand from NBC, and pushing CNN's executive vice president Mark Whitaker (who was credited with the channel’s overall approach) out the door.

Zucker has demonstrated a preference for talent with personality, poaching ABC's Jake Tapper and adding ESPN’s Rachel Nichols to their ranks, among others. In doing so, he has bid goodbye to network news veterans and commentators including Soledad O’Brien, Roland Martin, James Carville and Maria Cardona.

"I think he basically went in there to establish it was his network, got involved with everything and made people react quicker," a high ranking executive at rival MSNBC, who wanted to remain anonymous, told TheWrap. "Step one is to wake everybody up and make sure they react."

CNN has always cornered the market for breaking news, but it has had a hard time keeping viewers around for its scheduled programming. Zucker is trying to change that by bringing in recognizable and engaging personalities and broadening the news channel’s appeal.

"He’s got a tricky thing, he's got to thread a needle," the MSNBC exec explained. "He has the best brand in news, but has to figure out how to differentiate itself from the competition."

But one former CNN executive says the network is also latching on to less serious stories.

"Where Zucker wants to take CNN is down market, sensationalized cruise ship-type coverage," a former high ranking executive at CNN said, a reference to the news channel’s live around-the-clock coverage of a Carnival Cruise ship which was stuck at sea with an inoperable sewer system in February – dubbed CNN’s "poop ship."

Critics and the online media were harsh about the "poop ship" coverage.

But Stephen Battaglio, TV Guide Magazine's business editor who wrote a book about the "Today" show called "From Yesterday to Today," says CNN "didn't do it at the expense of news that would be deemed more important."

But others would disagree. "Some things they do stupidly, like the ship, that was ridiculous," the MSNBC executive said.

In its defense, a CNN executive said that the network's coverage of the cruise ship led to some of its highest ratings, so clearly its audience was interested in the story.

And as for the idea that the news channel is going downmarket, the CNN executive pointed out that the news channel has added an hour of international news to the day and touts the journalistic resumes of Tapper, Cuomo, Bolduan and Pereira.

Additionally, the individual says viewers can expect "New Day" to be more "newsier" than the broadcast morning shows, much closer to "CBS This Morning" than "GMA" and "Today."

"We're not going to be doing cooking segments and concerts," the executive said.

Over the past four months, Zucker has tried some new things with little success. Last month, he launched a one-week test of a new panel-style show headed up by Donny Deutsch. An embarrassing failure, it averaged 268,000 viewers an episode versus the 446,000 viewers who tuned into the hour’s usual "AC 360" reruns.

Speaking of "AC 360," last week Zucker tried a new panel-style format for that show, as well, with a more dressed down Anderson Cooper. It ended up becoming the least-watched broadcast on cable news at 10 p.m. and the second lowest with adults 25-54, averaging 503,000 total viewers and 167,000 in the demo.

Is there a bright spot for CNN? To risk sounding crude, yes, during the coverage of last month’s Boston Marathon attack. While Fox News’ coverage was the most-watched, CNN won the coveted 25-54 news demo.

Furthermore, the attack and the deadly explosion in West Texas certainly played in to CNN’s strength for being the destination for breaking news coverage. It saw a 79 percent boost in total viewership, averaging 638,000 total-day viewers, compared to last April's 356,000. In the 25-54 demo, the network climbed 109 percent with a total-day average of 228,000 over April 2012.

It should be noted, though, that April 2012 was CNN’s worst month since August 2001 in both the key demo and total viewers. Also, Fox News trounced CNN for total viewers with 1.2 million viewers in April. So commanding were Fox’s numbers that it ranked No. 2 among all cable channels -- news and otherwise -- behind just USA Network.

Nonetheless, Zucker celebrated the victory over his old stomping grounds, MSNBC, in a memo to staff which read: "For the month of April, CNN posted its best ratings since the November election, and we also topped MSNBC for the first time in more than a year. Year-to-date, CNN is now the #2 cable news network in America."

Next month, viewers will get a chance to judge for themselves if Zucker can recall that morning magic to CNN with "New Day."

post #86698 of 93720
‘Simpsons’ Inspiration Margaret ‘Marge’ Groening Dies
By Mike Barnes, The Hollywood Reporter - May 6, 2013

Margaret “Marge” Groening, the mother of The Simpsons creator Matt Groening, died peacefully in her sleep April 22 in Portland, Ore., according to an obituary notice in The Oregonian newspaper. She was 94.

Her husband, cartoonist Homer Groening, died in 1996.

The names of Matt Groening’s parents (and those of his sisters Lisa and Maggie) make it obvious that the inspiration for Fox’s long-running Simpsons came from his family.

Margaret Groening’s parents met on a boat to America from Norway and settled in Everett, Wash. She married her high-school sweetheart Homer “because he made her laugh the most,” the obituary notes. She attended Linfield College and then taught English in high school.

Survivors also include her brother, Arnold; another son, Mark; eight grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Another daughter, Patricia, died in January of heart failure at age 69.

post #86699 of 93720
Business Notes
YouTube poised to enter subscription business for some content
By Dawn C. Chmielewski, Los Angeles Times' 'Company Town' Blog - May 6, 2013

The next time you click on a YouTube video, you might be asked to pony up some cash before it plays.

The Google-owned online video site is getting ready to enter the subscription business, according to people with knowledge of the situation.

The Internet's dominant source for online videos will allow content creators to charge a monthly fee to bring a broader range of entertainment to the platform, these people said.

The move -- which has been under discussion since last fall -- could happen as soon as this week, according to the Financial Times, which first reported the story. Viewers could pay as little as $1.99 a month to subscribe. The majority of content on YouTube is expected to remain free.

Such fees would help YouTube's partners monetize content that is not necessarily advertiser-friendly -- say, the horror genre -- or niche content that's not available elsewhere. It also would bring YouTube closer to the dual-revenue model of cable television, in which networks collect both a monthly subscriber fee as well as advertising.

Internet video advertising has grown by double-digits, with brands spending $2.3 billion last year on digital video advertising -- an increase of 29% over 2011, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau. That's still a fraction of the $74 billion that Kantar Media estimates advertisers spent in 2012 on television commercials.

YouTube's Robert Kyncl has talked about the importance of finding a new source of revenue for content creators, even as he has acknowledged the challenges of coaxing people to pay in an environment where the entertainment always has been available free.

"It's a whole new skills set to develop to get people to actually take out a credit card," Kyncl said at a recent presentation in Playa Vista. "You will see a lot of experimentation with folks with those models. Over time, a lot of people will figure it out, but it will take lots of iteration."

A YouTube representative issued a statement that it has "nothing to announce at this time," but added that it was "looking into creating a subscription platform that could bring even more great content to YouTube for our users to enjoy and provide our partners with another vehicle to generate revenue from their content, beyond the rental and ad-supported models we offer."

Some within the entertainment community balked at YouTube's deal terms, in which the platform would stand to collect 45% of the subscription revenue. Others expressed concern that the subscription model would interfere with the ability of a video, like K-Pop phenom Psy's latest release, "Gentleman," to achieve viral stardom.

post #86700 of 93720
TV Notes
USA Network to Explore Sitcoms and Reality Shows
By Bill Carter, The New York Times - May 6, 2013

For most of the past decade the USA Network has lived by the mantra “blue skies,” which has translated into programming a string of upbeat hourlong drama hits, like “Burn Notice” and “Royal Pains.”

That strategy has paid off, with USA ranking as the most-watched entertainment network on cable for eight straight years. So why is the network going to make a new pitch to advertisers on May 16 that emphasizes areas previously little explored by USA, like situation comedy and reality shows?

The most obvious reason: USA paid a hefty price — $1 million to $1.5 million an episode — three years ago to acquire reruns of the hugely popular ABC comedy “Modern Family.” Those episodes become available this fall, so a shift toward some comedy-based nights was inevitable.

But the network’s top program executives also acknowledge that in order to grow, and to maintain the top position in a competitive cable environment, it is time to branch out into new programming directions.

At its advertiser presentation next week, USA is expected to announce that it has ordered its first two original sitcoms, as well as several new reality shows, and a new drama that breaks with the USA tradition by taking a bit of a walk on the dark side.

“One of the dances any network does, and we’re doing one now, is the balance between breadth and depth,” said Jeff Wachtel, the co-president of USA. “We are a very broad general entertainment network in a world that is increasingly about the depth of the commitment.”

He added, “We have a reservoir of good will. Now that’s great, but it’s also a trap. Because if anybody imputes a formula to you, you really are in danger of being formulaic. We’ve got to challenge the audience.”

Other cable networks have been doing that with great success: A&E has the reality hit “Duck Dynasty;” History collected big audiences for “The Bible;” FX has forged a reputation for dark dramas like “Justified;” and AMC has the biggest drama in all of television with “The Walking Dead.”

“There are a lot of networks infringing on USA’s territory,” said Derek Baine, a media analyst with SNL Kagan. “Changing the program lineup can be done. You just have to tread carefully because it can be jarring for the audience.”

USA’s numbers are unquestionably potent. Under Bonnie Hammer, who now is the chairwoman of the cable entertainment group for NBCUniversal, USA has been a profit machine. In 2012, the network exceeded $1 billion in profit for the first time, and it projects the number to be higher in 2013.

USA still has the top overall audience among cable entertainment networks with an average of 2.92 million viewers, ahead of the 2.43 million for the History Channel. USA is down slightly, 2 percent, this season.

It has remained No. 1, though narrowly, over TBS in one of the two audience groups that dominates sales to advertisers — viewers ages 25 to 54. But it trails TBS this season so far in the most important audience category, viewers ages 18 to 49.

That might not be bad news for USA, however, and not only because TBS gets a springtime bounce from college and pro basketball. The big winner for TBS is its package of repeats of the hit CBS sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” which runs as often as 16 to 20 times a week on TBS.

Chris McCumber, the network’s other co-president, said USA would most likely use “Modern Family” much as TBS has used “Big Bang” — all over its schedule, sometimes filling a whole night of prime time.

“We want to be careful not to overuse it,” Mr. McCumber said. “But we think it will raise all boats in prime time.”

There is some question about whether “Modern Family” can perform as “Big Bang” has. It is a filmed comedy without a laugh track, and those tend to repeat less well than taped shows with audience laughter.

Some competitors suggested USA might be disappointed because the days of repeat programs driving cable ratings are over (except for “Big Bang”) and only all original lineups now make sense. USA retains some reliable performers acquired from broadcast networks, like “NCIS,” but “Modern Family” will be its first off-network acquisition in six years.

USA is counting on the show to be a ratings generator on its own, but also a building block for a move into original comedy. Mr. McCumber said the network had “two front-runners” in comedies that it has developed for next season; one called “Sirens” is a paramedic comedy from Denis Leary; the other, tentatively titled “Playing House,” is an offbeat comedy about two women who are best friends.

USA is also considering picking up the ABC comedy “Happy Endings” — assuming ABC cancels it. USA would get original episodes as well as repeats of those already produced for ABC. Mr. Wachtel called that “an interesting model” to pursue.

On the reality side, USA is introducing a show called “Summer Camp,” (competition among adult campers) in June and “The Choir” (a British choirmaster teaches towns to sing) in the fall.

“If viewers are sampling reality, why not bring them in?” Mr. McCumber said.

Still, drama remains the centerpiece of USA’s lineup. The network will introduce a new show in June called “Graceland,” which deliberately takes the network in a different direction.

“Graceland,” a story based in fact, deals with undercover agents living in the same beachfront house, which becomes their sanctuary against the danger in their lives. It is serialized and is much grittier than other USA dramas.

Serialized drama has defined cable success over the past few years. USA tried a more weighty, serialized drama last year with the well-reviewed “Political Animals.” But the show faltered. Mr. Wachtel said the notion of political drama turned off viewers overwhelmed in a presidential election year.

But he has high hopes for “Graceland.” “The audience that’s watching ‘NCIS’ might never come to ‘Graceland.’ They don’t really have to. They’re a great audience that comes in and out,” he said. “We want the loyal audience that’s going to come to ‘Graceland.’ And serialization is not a scary thing anymore.”

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