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Critic's Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - May 13, 2013

CBS, 8:00 p.m. ET
Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) and Robin (Cobie Smulders) hold their wedding in tonight’s Season 8 finale, but not before they get into an altercation with a particularly abrasive couple at the bar. But when it’s all over, supposedly, we’ll watch as Ted (Josh Radnor) finally, finally, finally meets the woman who will become his future wife, and the mother of this show’s title.

NBC, 8:00 p.m. ET

Last week’s competition whittled the contestants down to the Top 12 (a decision that was so tough for Adam Levine, he barely made it while the live show was still on the air). This week, the dozen finalists – three from each team – compete for survival once more. And the judges shall lead them…

Flix, 8:00 p.m. ET

Flix has a bizarre double feature tonight, even if it’s not official, or even intentional. (Though if it’s not intentional, it’s one hell of a coincidence. Two Disney movies are shown back-to-back in prime time – movies that later were remade starring Lindsay Lohan. At 10:10 p.m. ET is 1977’s Freaky Friday – the original version, in which mom Barbara Harris swaps bodies with daughter Jodie Foster. (In Lohan’s remake, Jamie Lee Curtis played her mom.) And starting the evening at 8 p.m. ET is 1961’s The Parent Trap, starring Hayley Mills as twins who hope to reunite their estranged parents. Lohan played the twins in the remake of that one.

ABC Family, 9:00 p.m. ET

Right now on Broadway, Matilda: The Musical is up for 12 Tony Awards. This 1996 movie is based on the same Roald Dahl children’s story, and co-stars and is directed by Danny DeVito. On stage, four girls take turns playing the demanding title role. In this movie, Mara Wilson gets the role all to herself. Rhea Perlman co-stars.

Sundance, 10:00 p.m. ET

Tonight’s episode is partly about faith, and has Daniel (Aden Young) considering religion as a path back to something closer to normalcy after his unexpected release from 19 years on Death Row. Meanwhile, the faith Sundance had in this show already has been rewarded. It’s been renewed for a second season.

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WARNING: Spoilers for the past two seasons of "Scandal" in this article.

Network TV Is Broken. So How Does Shonda Rhimes Keep Making Hits?
By Willa Paskin, The New York Times' Sunday Magazine - May 12, 2013

“I love that the gay White House chief of staff is threatening to pretend the first lady is a closeted lesbian,” Shonda Rhimes said to a roomful of writers. “It is so wrong. In the best way.” Ten of the writers — seven men, three women, five plaid button-down shirts and two pairs of outsize hipster glasses frames — were sitting in her bright Hollywood office, pens in hand, scripts in laps, going through notes for the 20th episode of “Scandal,” Rhimes’s gonzo political melodrama, which is about to finish its second season on ABC.

When “Scandal,” which is based very, very loosely on the life of the Washington crisis manager Judy Smith, had its debut last spring, it appeared to be a standard soapy procedural with a fizzy twist: the main character, the fierce Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington), was having a torrid interracial affair with the president of the United States, a Republican named Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn). By the end of the first season, however, when the chief of staff was hiring an assassin to kill a former intern who slept with the president, the show had revealed itself to be much wilder than it initially seemed, a brash, addictive mixture of Douglas Sirk and realpolitik, and TV’s most outrageous spectacle.

In the second season, there has been a waterboarding, an assassination attempt and a mail bomb. Three women, a gay man and a sleazy oil baron successfully stole a presidential election. The president personally murdered a Supreme Court justice. One of Olivia’s staff members, a C.I.A.-trained assassin and torturer, sits in on A.A. meetings because he has an addiction to killing people.

As the audacity of “Scandal” has increased, so have its ratings. The series now averages an especially impassioned eight million viewers a week, making it the No. 1 drama at 10 p.m. on any night, on any network, among the most desired demographic, adults 18 to 49. It has also become a highly “social” show: on Thursday nights, Twitter becomes a giant “Scandal” chat room, fans of the show dispatching more than 190,000 tweets per episode, a good portion of which contain at least one “OMG.”

The font of all this fervid storytelling is Rhimes, who, at 43, is often described as the most powerful African-American female show runner in television — which is too many adjectives. She is one of the most powerful show runners in the business, full stop. Rhimes is among the few remaining bona fide network hitmakers; her pull at ABC is matched only by Chuck Lorre, with his three sitcoms at CBS, or Seth MacFarlane, with his three animated shows at Fox. Before “Scandal,” Rhimes created the hit medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy” and, later, the sudsier “Grey’s” spinoff, “Private Practice,” which ended this past January after a six-year run. Channing Dungey, who oversees ABC’s drama development, describes Rhimes as “incredibly important” to the network. “If she came in tomorrow and said, ‘I have a great idea,’ I would jump at it.” Since 2009, ABC has given over its Thursday-night lineup to a solid two-hour Shonda Rhimes programming block.

Sitting behind her expansive desk, Rhimes continued to go through the script with her writers, finessing dialogue, addressing continuity errors and looking to sharpen the trademark “Scandal” tone. A writer noticed that the phrase “Cyrus is the mole” was repeated four times in an exchange. Rhimes told him not to worry. “It’s the rhythm of the conversation,” she said. “It’s going to be sexy. Trust me.”

As part of her Shondaland production company, Rhimes oversees some 550 actors, writers, crew members and producers, and her days are optimized to do so. In the morning, she gets her older daughter, Harper, who is 10, off to school and then contends with whatever is most urgent: writing, giving notes on a script and watching casting videos. The televisions in her office and home are connected to a system that allows her to watch real-time editing by her editors. Both of her daughters have rooms across the hall from her office at work. The younger, a perfectly chubby-cheeked 1-year-old named Emerson, comes in every day, clambering onto Rhimes’s lap during meetings.

As she does her rounds, Rhimes says hello to strangers in the elevator and tells one director, working late into the night, “You are so pretty and talented.” But she also has a no-nonsense authority, a matter-of-fact bluntness. After a discussion with her writers in her office goes on longer than she wants, she breezily ends it: “Don’t talk about it in here anymore. I’m done.” Not long into the first season, she said, she stopped taking network notes on “Scandal”; eventually, ABC stopped giving them. “What was great for me about ‘Scandal’ was I had earned a lot of political capital with the network,” Rhimes told me. “I had done ‘Grey’s,’ I had done ‘Private Practice.’ What were they going to do, fire me? I wasn’t worried about what anybody else thought. This one was for me.”

The sure manner with which Rhimes wields her power did not come naturally; it’s something she had to learn. Born in 1970 and raised outside Chicago, she is the youngest of six; her mother was a teacher who got her Ph.D. after Rhimes left for college, and her father is now the chief information officer at the University of Southern California. She un-self-consciously describes herself as a Tracy Flick-type, a good girl with her hand always in the air or her nose always in a book. After graduating from Dartmouth, she read an article in The Times that said getting into U.S.C. film school was harder than getting into Harvard Law and thought, This sounds like a really competitive thing to do. I’m going to do it.

She worked as a development assistant for a few years before selling a script on spec called “Human Seeking Same,” about an older woman who begins dating a man through personal ads. She then co-wrote HBO’s Dorothy Dandridge biopic, starring Halle Berry, and found steady work as a screenwriter, including “The Princess Diaries” and the Britney Spears vehicle “Crossroads.” In 2001, she rented a house in Vermont for a month with a plan to finish a screenplay. The first morning she was there, the twin towers came down. She spent the next few days in a state of anxiety. She made a list of all the things she most wanted to do in life, and at the very top was adopt a baby. Nine months and two days after 9/11, at 32, she adopted her daughter, Harper, and became a single mother. (She adopted Emerson last year.)

It was when Rhimes’s older daughter was an infant that she got turned on to TV. The baby wouldn’t sleep, so Rhimes would lay her on her chest while she watched “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Felicity” and “24.” “I thought, God, television is really good. And I’m really tired of writing about teenage girls and their makeovers.” She wrote a pilot for a show about war correspondents that stalled when the Iraq war started. Then she wrote “Grey’s Anatomy.” The show, about a bunch of great-looking, sharp-talking, bed-hopping, work-obsessed surgeons, became an unexpected hit in 2005.

When Rhimes began writing “Grey’s,” she had never worked in series TV, and she was paired for the show’s first season with a veteran show runner, James Parriott. Rhimes describes herself as a shy person, used to the solitary (and relatively powerless) pursuit of screenwriting, who found the experience of working with strangers stressful. The actress Sandra Oh, who has worked with Rhimes for nearly a decade on “Grey’s,” flat out laughed at me when I described Rhimes as having an intimidating boss-lady vibe. (I arrived for an interview 10 minutes early and knocked on Rhimes’s door; without turning from her computer, she yelled, “What!” I felt properly chastised.) “I don’t want to ruin her rep, but for me, that’s how she has changed,” Oh told me. “She was really a glasses-in-front-of-her-computer writer, a holed-up sort of person. What has changed is how she is with people, her understanding and acceptance of her power.”

Fundamental to this transition was the very public backstage fracas that consumed “Grey’s Anatomy” in 2006. Isaiah Washington, a lead actor on the show, used a homophobic slur against a fellow cast member, T. R. Knight, on the set. Washington publicly apologized and stayed with the show — until he was fired months later, following another incident and after much cast dissension. A year later, the disgruntled cast member Katherine Heigl publicly withdrew herself from Emmy consideration because, in her words, she hadn’t been “given the material . . . to warrant a nomination” — an overt salvo of dissatisfaction — but she remained on the show for three more seasons.

“There’s no big secret about our cast blowing up many, many times,” Oh said, “and to me, Shonda can do no wrong now, because she has a deeper understanding of what it is to be a true commander in chief.” Rhimes, while not addressing the incident specifically, agrees that she’s since learned “how to be a boss and a leader versus somebody who was like, ‘Holy crap, I get to write a show every week.’ ” But, she adds: “could I have lived without that lesson? Absolutely.”

In 1997, NBC canceled the sitcom “The Single Guy” after two seasons; it had an audience of 20.1 million people. This month, NBC is on the verge of renewing “Parks and Recreation,” which has an audience of 2.5 million, which tells you everything you need to know about the dwindling viewership for network TV. The highest-rated show this season among 18- to 49-years-olds — the demographic advertisers really care about — is not even a network show: it’s AMC’s “Walking Dead,” a cable show that drew a total of 12.4 million viewers for its recent season finale.

With 8.3 million viewers, “Scandal” stands alongside stalwart network hits like “CSI” and outpaces cable darlings like “Game of Thrones” (4.4 million viewers) and “Mad Men” (3.4 million viewers). Rhimes has found a way to make successful, popular, original dramas under the grueling, constricting conditions of network TV — 22 episodes a year; strict limits on language and subject matter; a fight about every sex scene. The key to the appeal of “Scandal” may be, simply, that it’s more fun than anything else on television. Rhimes often describes it as a show “I want to watch” — an emphasis that underscores her bedrock belief in the pleasure principle of TV.

Still, Rhimes observes that people, even the ones who like “Scandal,” describe it as “ridiculous,” which she can live with, or a “guilty pleasure,” which she ardently despises. The worst reaction, she says, is when people dismiss it as a show for women, the TV version of chick lit. “It’s superinsulting that because Olivia is a woman, and the girl who wrote ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ wrote this, it must be for chicks,” Rhimes says. “Like if it’s geared for women, it’s somehow not as serious as if it’s geared for men.”

These slights — that it’s just a prime-time soap opera — obscure the series’ ambition and intelligence. We’ve been trained by the great TV shows of the last two decades to think that quality television has to come draped in a shroud of somber respectability. But that’s just not Rhimes’s style.

Try this blind test: A politician and a workaholic have a passionate extramarital affair that endangers their careers and national security. A scheming Washington insider murders an innocent and makes it look like a suicide to further his own career. A person assumes a false identity after a gruesome incident and uses that identity to build a new life. To protect his legacy, a man preemptively murders a former ally once essential to his success.

These are all descriptions of plot points on “Scandal” — but also on “Homeland,” “House of Cards,” “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad,” respectively. “Scandal” may not look or feel like TV’s other prestige dramas, in which (usually male) antiheroes mix it up under the oversight of an (almost always male) auteur who has complex feelings about entertaining his audience. Rhimes feels no such ambivalence. Even more than Olivia and Fitz’s racy clinches, that’s what makes the show exciting: Rhimes is making a different kind of quality television.

“Scandal” is out of the melodrama closet. It embraces all the freedoms afforded a soap opera — the outlandish plots and juiced-up emotions — and it plays them out on a world-historical stage where typically marginalized people are at the center of power, doing exactly what the white guys usually do: making a sloppy, sordid mess of everything. Rhimes likes to point out that on her show, America is run by an African-American spin expert, a scheming first lady and a mercenary gay guy who also happens to be in one of the sexiest homosexual marriages on television. “I joked to Tony Goldwyn that on another television series, he’d be the pretty girl that all the men are trying to save,” Rhimes says. “That’s what he is, except he happens to also be the leader of the free world.”

In fact, except for a former assistant U.S. attorney, who lost his career thanks to Olivia, the leader of the free world is essentially the only straight white male central character on the show. From “Grey’s” to “Scandal,” Rhimes’s shows have been the most diverse on TV. Oprah Winfrey recently praised her in the Time 100, writing, “I grew up at a time when it was an anomaly to see people who looked like me on TV. [Rhimes] gets us — all of us! . . . Everybody gets a seat at Shonda’s table.”

Rhimes refuses to make an issue of her casting. “I think it’s sad, and weird, and strange that it’s still a thing,” she told me over the phone a few months ago. “It’s 2013. Somebody else needs to get their act together. And, oh, by the way, it works. Ratings-wise, it works.” In addition to its general success, “Scandal” is also rated No. 1 on network TV among African-American viewers.

While race on Rhimes’s shows is omnipresent, it is not often discussed explicitly. This has led to a second-order critique of her shows: that they are colorblind, diverse in a superficial way, with the characters’ races rarely informing their choices or conversations. Rhimes, obviously, disagrees. “When people who aren’t of color create a show and they have one character of color on their show, that character spends all their time talking about the world as ‘I’m a black man blah, blah, blah,’ ” she says. “That’s not how the world works. I’m a black woman every day, and I’m not confused about that. I’m not worried about that. I don’t need to have a discussion with you about how I feel as a black woman, because I don’t feel disempowered as a black woman.”

This season on “Scandal,” race has been more openly discussed. In one scene, Olivia remarked to Fitz that she was feeling “a little Sally Hemings-Thomas Jefferson” about their relationship, one of the first overt references to its racial aspect. Rhimes had written the line into three previous scripts and taken it out each time. She finally included it, but only as a flashback, later in the show’s run but early in Olivia’s relationship with Fitz, when Rhimes knew it would have been on Olivia’s mind. “I don’t think that we have to have a discussion about race when you’re watching a black woman who is having an affair with the white president of the United States,” she explains. “The discussion is right in front of your face.”

With “Scandal” still new, and both it and “Grey’s” returning next year, Rhimes knows she should not start another series. Still, she is having some trouble convincing herself of that. She has a couple of projects she is eager to do, one of which is a show about “a woman carrying a gun and kicking people’s butts.” She is fond of “Alias,” the J . J. Abrams TV show about a female secret agent, and says: “I would have loved to have been the person who came up with it. I don’t think it’s been done by a woman. And that’s where my mind is.”

Part of what appeals to her about such a show is that, like “Scandal,” it is not what people expect from her. It irks her to be pigeonholed. “I was writing a hospital show for a very long time, and that became all that anybody thought that I could write,” she says. “It’s not that I want to do [a female-spy show] because people don’t think of me as doing it, but when I do say that’s what I want to do next, and some network exec says: “Really? Can’t you do one of your romance triangle-y things?” I want to strangle them. A romance triangle-y thing is not a show.”

When she has time, Rhimes likes to steal away to the “Scandal” Oval Office set. “To me, the awesomest part of my job is I get to type ‘interior Oval Office’ and know that someone’s going to build me an Oval Office, and I get to go play in it,” she says. Instead of a ceiling, her Oval Office has a huge lighting rig, the trees outside the windows are fake, the snapshots behind the president’s desk are staged and a copy of Jon Stewart’s jokey textbook about America sits underneath the coffee table. But the carpet is plush, blue and emblazoned with a seal; the room is large, quiet and stately; and the big, leather desk chair swivels. “I don’t know how this is going to come off sounding,” Rhimes says, but like her character, Olivia Pope, “I’m in a position of power where I run this world and handle this situation. . . . If I’m going to make a crazy decision, then I better be damn sure. Because it’s not like anybody’s going to tell me, ‘You can’t do that.’ ”

Willa Paskin is the television critic for Salon.

Edited by dad1153 - 5/13/13 at 2:40am
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TV Reviews
‘The Invisible War’ and 'Service: When Women Come Marching Home' (PBS)
By David Hinckley, New York Daily News - May 13, 2013

These two documentaries on the challenges faced by women in the military weren’t timed to coincide with the news that the officer in charge of investigating sexual assault claims in the Air Force was arrested on an assault charge himself.

But no one who has watched these two superb and often disturbing examinations of military life for women would be surprised.

By the Department of Defense’s own estimate, there were 19,000 sexual assaults in the military in 2011.

“The Invisible War,” which focuses entirely on sexual assault, adds the further disturbing statistic that only a tiny percentage of perpetrators were punished even a little.

The film makes a persuasive case that the military mostly wants these complaints to go away because they get in the way of soldiering.

And that’s true, they do. But instead of throwing the book at the perps, the military tries to get victims to suck it up and forget about it, or puts them into a process so long and grinding that, in the words of one victim, “It was like getting raped again.”

“Service” tackles a broader range of issues for women, spending time with a woman who was the only survivor of an enemy attack during a company patrol. She lost both legs below the knees.

While the film doesn’t blink in showing the impact of service injuries, it also stresses the resilience of women veterans. With an increasing percentage of our military comprised of women, “Service” among other things offers reassurance that we’re losing nothing in toughness or determination.

We also can imagine how effective they will be when some of the most troubling threats don’t come from their fellow soldiers.

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

Network / Air Date: Sunday May 19 at 7 p.m., PBS
Rating: ★★★★ (out of five)

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Critic's Notes
The Persistent Cult of Arrested Development
By Will Leitch, Vulture.com (New York Magazine) - May 13, 2013

The final four episodes of Arrested Development—the cult comedy that aired on Fox from 2003 to 2006, launched (or relaunched) the careers of Jason ­Bateman, Michael Cera, and Will Arnett, and is considered one of the great sitcoms of all time (and definitely the best to ever feature a subplot about testicles being mistaken for maps of Iraq)—were broadcast in one two-hour block, back-to-back, with only slightly more fanfare than if they had been screened by projector off the back of a moving truck. After slashing the final season’s number of episodes from 22 to thirteen and hiding the program from sweeps week, Fox dumped the last four shows—starting with “Fakin’ It” (featuring Judge Reinhold’s legal reality show, Judge Reinhold) and ending on “Development Arrested,” with Michael and his son leaving that crazy family once and for all—on February 10, 2006. Also that night: the Winter Olympics opening ceremonies, in all their glory, on NBC. The timing was not a coincidence.

As an Arrested Development obsessive, I remember watching those last four episodes in an attic in suburban Ohio, while everyone else in the house watched the pageantry in Turin like normal people. There was no Hulu, no Twitter, no compendium of episode recaps to scour in the morning. I just saw Ron Howard, who had been the show’s invisible narrator, actually appear and, playing himself, say the show’s last line—that tantalizing and self-mocking “Maybe a movie.” Then it was over, like it had never happened. It was an ignominious and, of course, entirely apt finish. Arrested Develop­ment, the story of possibly the most dysfunctional family ever produced by American wealth, was replaced on the Fox schedule by Skating With Celebrities, a fate so bizarre and perfect it sounds like something the show would have come up with on its own.

Now, of course, being an Arrested Development fan is cool, which is why the show is returning on Netflix for fifteen episodes, to be released on May 26. This is unfathomable in every way for those few of us who watched the show in isolation back in the day—but also entirely to our credit. The resurrection is the direct result of the happy-go-tireless advocacy of a small but rabid group of superfans who have become, over the seven years since the show went off the air, a kind of cult—the best kind of cult. Amazingly, ­executives have actually listened to us, even thinking it was good business sense to do so.

Arrested Development is not the only show to have inspired feverish loyalty—it’s a spirit shared by countless fans who have had their favorite shows cut short in years past, from Freaks and Geeks to ­Firefly. But the Arrested Development cult was different: more crazed, more committed, and ultimately more powerful. Handily, it also featured many, many members of the entertainment media, which means anytime any actor on the show did any interview—particularly Cera and Bateman, whose careers took off after the show went dark—they were inevitably asked about a reunion. This led to show creator Mitch Hurwitz and crew stoking speculation, even tossing out red herrings like Cera’s not wanting to be a part of it. Actors like David Cross and Portia de Rossi got in the habit of showing a little Arrested Development leg as a way to promote lesser, duller projects in interviews that would inevitably excite their Arrested Development base. And the return of the show went from pipe dream to fanciful notion to intriguing possibility to tantalizingly close likelihood to locked-in full season almost entirely in the hands of fans. The cult became so strong that not only did fans manage to bring the show back, they also tried—on fan sites and comment threads and in e-mail campaigns—to make sure some of their favorite smaller characters returned, too. (Steve Holt!)

The world into which the first three seasons of Arrested Development were released is dramatically different from the one we live in now. “I was doing a show that was all about re­watchability before there was technology that really provided that opportunity—before DVRs, etc.,” Hurwitz said in an interview with Vulture last year. “In retrospect, it was more than audacious; it was foolish. ”

This is a key point, sort of the insane, futile genius of Arrested Development—a show that demanded the kind of giddy Internet dissections we do regularly now, but before there was any real forum in which to conduct them. The show was full of crazily subtle in-jokes you had to watch every episode over and over to catch, from the out-of-season seasonal clothing the Bluths made their housekeeper wear to Cloudmir Vodka, a brand that shows up in the background of at least a half-dozen scenes. We’d catch those immediately now, and every different Bluth family member’s chicken impression would be gif’d within seconds of airing. It was a show made to be looped and recapped and deep-dived into, anticipating the current cultural moment without ever being able to benefit from it. A show for 2013 made in 2005.

Then, of course, we knew not of GIFs. What we did know was that what Arrested Development was doing was so revolutionary and different it felt like public access, and it was on freaking Fox. (I remember Joe Buck and Troy Aikman plugging Arrested Development during the NFC Championship Game, for crying out loud.) And obsessing over Arrested Develop­ment made us feel better, smarter, cooler than all those dopes busy watching Two and a Half Men. In this way, Arrested Development didn’t just foretell the viewing culture of 2013; it might have created it. The television world is so fractured and niche now that the shows we watch have become an important signifier of who we are—who we want to be seen as, anyway. I’m a Louie person but not a Community person. I’m a Breaking Bad person but not a Homeland one. And if I saw on your Facebook wall that you were an Arrested Development fan, well, I could bet you and I were gonna get along just fine. Which we did: That incredible ­camaraderie within the accidental, haphazard, seemingly pointless community of Arrested Development obsessives is one large reason the show eventually got resurrected. That kind of collective action would have been insane to imagine in 2006. That a tiny fan base could rally to revive a show a season after it went off the air? Maybe. But seven years later? It feels like a major evolutionary event.

In a documentary released this month about the show and its maniacal fan base, Hurwitz tells the directors (two maniac fans themselves) that “there are more fans in this movie than there are outside this movie.” That sentiment obviously applied in 2006—when Arrested Development finished 123rd in the ratings, tied with WB’s Beauty and the Geek and behind the Pamela Anderson sitcom Stacked—but that doesn’t necessarily mean it doesn’t still apply now. The show sold decently in full-season boxed sets, but of course this was back when (a) there weren’t many full-season boxed sets to compete with, and (b) people watched DVDs. We were a niche audience that wanted to live in the Arrested Development universe and would devour every scrap of it. In the years since, deprived of Arrested Development, we’ve grown to appreciate the show more than perhaps we did then … but I’m not sure we’ve grown in number.

Thankfully, in the meantime, the rest of the world has shrunk. The terrible ratings that Arrested Development got back then would be moderately respectable today, now that the media universe has splintered into thousands of different little TLC-size pieces. Its first season, which averaged 6.2 million viewers an episode, would comfortably beat the ratings of any of the shows on NBC’s Thursday-night comedy lineup today and would probably have the network building its whole schedule around it. That final episode of the series, the one buried among the opening ceremonies? More people watched it than the season finale of Breaking Bad. Of course, that doesn’t mean Arrested Development was more popular than we realized. It’s that nothing now is as popular as we think it is. (And that in 2006, a lot of people tuned in to Fox by default, without even realizing it, apparently.)

Which is to say: As geeked out as we all are that Arrested Development has returned, let’s not start pretending that the show is somehow mainstream, that its giddy weirdness could ever be called mainstream. Netflix has already ruled out a second season for the show, though Hurwitz himself has expressed interest. He’s also planning for the Netflix episodes to lead into a movie, and as exciting as that is for me and the rest of us superfans, I can’t imagine the movie ever becoming a hit. It is very possible that Arrested Development is about to be the first show to underperform in three different ­distribution channels.

Still, this is a fervid, loyal fan base that will follow the show anywhere, from a tiny TV in an Ohio attic to Netflix for a subscription so all 68 episodes can be greedily inhaled in fevered succession. And this, of course, is something Netflix has been counting on. It’s worth it for them, no matter how many new subscribers signed up just to count the days until Arrested Development returns, the ones who will gobble up every episode the minute it hits. And blog about it. And say the word Netflix. (The only question is how difficult it will be to capture gifs from streaming video.) Arrested Development has been an enormous public-relations triumph for ­Netflix; having a show with the following of Arrested Development instantly legitimized the company’s growing original-programming department in a way that the well-received House of Cards couldn’t. Netflix is now an undeniable and much-admired player, just eighteen months after destroying customer loyalty with its aborted divide-and-relaunch as Qwikster, in large part because of Arrested Development. In that way, it doesn’t really matter how many people watch the show. (This, apparently, will always be Arrested Develop­ment’s plight.)

Now, this bit of fan-service show-revival for perhaps the most persistent cult in popular culture is probably not repeatable. (I am not holding my breath for that Party Down movie, let’s say that.) But Arrested Development fans don’t care. Having it back is a dream come true for us, and after waiting around seven years for new episodes, and then somehow actually getting them—it’d be churlish and spoiled, even perverse, to ask for more. So, come May 26, I’m locking myself in my room and not coming out until I’ve watched them all twice: Do not try to contact me or inquire as to my whereabouts. The show’s return is an incredible gift, even if it’s a self-contained one. And who knows? Maybe, now that we live in this bizarre universe so different from the one in which we last saw the ­Bluths, it’ll be such a huge hit that the Arrested Development crew gets back together every few years, the sitcom Before Sunrise. Maybe Arrested Development will bring in the cash it never did in its first run. If not, though, that’s okay: There’s always money in the banana stand.

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TV/Business Notes
As TV Ratings and Profits Fall, Networks Face a Cliffhanger
By Brian Stelter, The New York Times - May 13, 2013

As the major television networks prepare to unveil their new fall lineups in New York this week, they face threats from seemingly every corner.

Prime-time ratings for the Big Four broadcasters — ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox — together are dropping more precipitously than ever. Even their biggest hits, like “American Idol” and “Dancing With the Stars,” are fading fast. Advertisers are moving more cash to cable, cutting into the networks’ quarterly profits. New technologies are making it easier to skip those ads, anyway.

That’s not all: there are more outlets for programming cropping up all the time, with Netflix and Amazon and dozens of cable channels competing for actors, producers and, most important, viewers. Government regulators want to take back some of the spectrum allotted to local television stations. And start-ups like Aereo are threatening to deprive the stations of subscription revenue, causing some broadcasters to talk of options that were unthinkable a few short years ago. Some have warned they might go off the air entirely.

The many pressures bearing down on the industry are casting a shadow over this week’s upfronts, an annual tradition in New York in which the new sitcoms, dramas and reality shows are previewed at splashy, open-bar events and the networks try to capture their portion of an estimated $9 billion in advertising commitments.

“The networks are getting picked at from every direction,” said Jessica Reif Cohen, the senior media analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “This year was the tipping point,” she said, “when the television ratings really fell apart.”

The broadcast networks have managed declining viewership for years, but executives by and large said they believed that they had escaped the punishing losses that digital media exacted on the music industry and newspapers.

Now, though, they say they are not sure; even the industry’s biggest boosters concede that the business is under assault, though they express confidence that the networks will adapt. While the challenges before them are numerous, said Gary Carr, who oversees ad-buying at TargetCast, “the networks are far from dead.”

They are certainly smaller, though. Historically the broadcasters have had outsize cultural and civic importance in the country; their owners pledged long ago to uphold the public interest and provide news programming in exchange for valuable access to the airwaves.

No matter how optimistic the Big Four networks may feel about their new seasons — TV executives are masters at forgetting last year’s failures and staying on message about the future — the stress factors are enough to make them long for the days of “I Love Lucy,” when 50 million Americans would watch the same show at the same time.

Now NBC and ABC are lucky to get five million to tune in. Goldman Sachs found last month that broadcast ratings in the 18-to-49-year-old demographic, the one most coveted by advertisers, fell by 17 percent in the winter months compared with last winter. Goldman Sachs called it “the sharpest pace on record.”

While broadcast networks were setting record lows, cable channels were setting record highs; AMC’s “The Walking Dead” and the History mini-series “The Bible” regularly beat almost all the shows on network television while they were on.

At ABC, the lowest-rated of the four broadcasters, first-quarter profit fell 40 percent compared with the same quarter last year, but the network still made $138 million. NBC, on the other hand, lost $35 million in the quarter, because of lower advertising revenues. NBC’s parent, Comcast, said the network would have fared better if its biggest hit, “The Voice,” had been on in the quarter.

Ad revenue slipped at Fox too, partly because “Idol” has lost nearly a quarter of its viewers this season, on top of a 50 percent decline over the previous five years.

“We’re clearly disappointed” with the season’s ratings, said Chase Carey, president of Fox’s parent, News Corporation, to Wall Street analysts last week before delivering bullish words about the coming season’s slate. Fox eked out 15 percent profit growth, to $196 million, by spending less on programming and persuading distributors to pay higher subscriber fees — a strategy pioneered by the cable channels that the broadcasters also own.

Wall Street has driven up the stock prices of all the broadcast network owners in the past year, partly out of a belief that the broadcasters will win further subscriber fee increases. Mostly, though, what investors care about are the cable channels that the parent companies also own.

On Wall Street “no one really talks about the broadcast side anymore — which tells you something, doesn’t it?” said Garth Ancier, who was a co-founder of the Fox network and who had stints running NBC and the WB, now defunct. The dominant emotion among his former colleagues, he said, is “tremendous frustration about working in a declining marketplace.”

The CBS network is in some ways the exception to the rules, and a possible blueprint for its rivals. It is by far the highest-rated network, and this season it lost only 3 percent of its audience between the ages of 18 and 49. Last week the CBS chief executive, Leslie Moonves, predicted that the network would once again persuade advertisers to pay roughly 10 percent more for commercial time than they did this time last year. The reason, he said, was simple: “We pull together mass audiences like no one else can.”

To skeptics, CBS is merely winning a game of musical chairs that will end with no chairs left. Studio heads and series creators privately complain that the broadcasters have largely stuck with the same arcane production strategy they have employed for decades: commissioning dozens of pilots early in the year, rushing them to completion and then holding a bake-off that rarely results in new hits. Some predict that the networks will eventually start cutting back on the number of hours a week they program with new shows.

But there is a trend toward trying more shows and running fewer repeats, reflecting the fact that the production business “is actually pretty healthy,” as Ms. Reif Cohen put it. Broadcast networks increasingly act as big billboards for new dramas and comedies, which are then sold and resold at a big profit to smaller channels, online services like Netflix and international channels. Networks are becoming “the first window of a bigger opportunity,” said David Bank, an analyst for RBC Capital Markets, who cautioned that “change is slower than it sometimes appears.”

The newest threat comes from Aereo, a service with an antenna array that scoops up the free signals of stations and then streams them over the Internet to paying subscribers, a tactic that the broadcasters say is illegal. Courts in New York have supported Aereo, spurring the start-up to expand to other markets — and to file a pre-emptive lawsuit against CBS, which has said it will sue in other courts.

The real risk for the broadcasters comes if cable and satellite distributors use Aereo’s tactic to circumvent laws that require them to pay stations for their signals. Then the subscriber fees that have propped up stations and their owners might evaporate. That is why CBS, Fox and Univision have threatened to take their signals off the air if Aereo continues to be upheld by the courts. Senator John McCain introduced a bill last week that would, among other measures, penalize the broadcasters if they were to do so.

Viewers, for their part, already penalize the networks often — for disappointing them, for changing shows’ time slots and for canceling shows prematurely. If this season is any indicator for next year, the networks will wind up canceling almost all of the shows they announce this week.

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TV Notes
Goodbye 'Southland': The stars discuss the cop show's legacy
By Samantha Highfill, EW.com's 'Inside TV' Blog - May 11, 2013

Sometimes being great just isn’t good enough. After five years of beautifully crafted storytelling, realistic portrayals, award-worthy performances, and some of the most shocking moments on television, Southland has reached the dreaded end of watch.

The cop show that was watched by few but loved enough for many told the stories of the LAPD in a way that viewers had never seen before. For five short seasons, the perfectly rough-around-the-edges drama sucked fans into the professional and personal lives of its complex heroes. From the rookie cop who lost his moral center to the veteran who tried desperately to find happiness in a sea of devastation, Southland‘s stories left an impact on everyone who chose to partake in the show’s journey.

And now, we say goodbye to Coop, Ben, Sammy, Lydia, Dewey and all those in blue whom we got to know. But before we let go, we chatted with Southland stars Michael Cudlitz, Ben McKenzie, Shawn Hatosy and Regina King for our finale post-mortem, and we asked them about the show’s legacy if this were the end:

Michael Cudlitz: “We’ve gotten a three-year extension on a death notice, so no matter what, we’re thankful to everyone at TNT for that. The network has not asked us to change our vision or do something else that may or may not get better ratings or be easier to market. They have loved the show. They have specifically told us to make the show that we make. And we feel that we’re living and dying by the sword in the sense of we have not compromised. So we can walk away from this at any point feeling that artistically we have set out to do what we wanted to do and achieved it. And we are all extremely, extremely proud of what we have made, as I know is Warner Bros. and TNT. And if we were to have to walk away, we would all be better artists for it and have left a wonderful footprint in this business.”

Ben McKenzie: “I would hope [viewers] take away that it was an honorable show. It was a well-intentioned show that did its best to portray a certain side of law enforcement, particularly LAPD officers and particularly, from my point of view, patrol officers, although there are detectives in it too. And it used some of the cutting-edge things that are happening in television right now — technology, more cutting-edge storytelling, some improvisational dialogue and a real commando mentality — to what had previously been a safer way of shooting these things in less intense, less visceral ways of filming your ‘typical cop show.’ [Southland] brought depth and reality and immediacy to that. That’s what I would hope people would get out of it. I just hope we made a good show and people enjoyed it, and I hope it stands up. I hope people can watch years from now and say ‘That was a good episode,’ ‘I like what they did there,’ ‘I like his performance,’ or ‘I like that shot.’ I think it’s a good show, and I think that the people that really like it really, really like it. I would rather fewer people watched it and loved it for its attempts at authenticity.”

Shawn Hatosy: “It’s rare that you get to create something as artistic as Southland. To me, it feels like art. We all work so hard and being an artist is kind of like being a parent in the way it’s something that comes from within you that you create, you put out there, you nurture, you care for, and truthfully, if you’re good at it, nobody’s going to love it more than you. And that’s the same way with a kid. We had this screening for episodes 9 and 10 and it was just an opportunity. I wanted to look at the people, look them in the eyes, and just enjoy the notion that we created this together, because I do think that in years to come that, people will put Southland on a list of one of the best cop shows ever. So I just wanted to take a moment to look at the people who spent five years working on it and just embrace that a little bit, because you don’t really get a chance to do that. So I was thankful to have that.”

Regina King: “The bar has been set so high with this cast and crew that I can only hope that any project that I work on from here on out can at least come within 70 percent of what we have on Southland. It’s going to be really hard to duplicate that, all the way from the quality of the work to the work ethic of the crew. The LAPD has been so amazingly supportive. I just hope that at this point, if this is the last season, that at least we could get some type of award recognition — Michael could be recognized for an incredible season. If we’re not coming back and that happens, that would mean it would at least feel like all of the work that all of these people have done did not go unnoticed. However, it does not make the show any less fantastic.”

Edited by dad1153 - 5/13/13 at 2:37am
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FOX said New Girl & a new comedy will air after Super Bowl XLVIII so i think this is the 1st time ever that 2 different shows get that timeslot.
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TV Notes
Fox Schedule: 'Glee' Gets Midseason Break; Tuesdays Add Male Comedy
By Lesley Goldberg, The Hollywood Reporter's 'Live Feed' Blog - May 13, 2013

Following a season that saw its overall ratings tumble 20 percent among adults 18-49, Fox is looking to men to help boost its Tuesday comedy block and Greg Kinnear to give Glee a break.

Ahead of the network's Monday presentation to Madison Avenue ad buyers, the network announced its 2013-14 schedule, which includes the launch of two new comedies on Tuesdays. Replacing Raising Hope and the since-canceled Ben and Kate at 8 and 8:30 p.m. are Seth MacFarlane's live-action entry Dads and Andy Samberg vehicle Brooklyn Nine-Nine -- as the network hopes to boost the fortunes of New Girl and returning half-hour The Mindy Project.

On Thursdays, Glee's fifth season will take a break come midseason when Fox slots Kinnear's House-like drama Rake, with the Ryan Murphy musical returning in the spring and stretching into the summer as Fox's schedule transitions to feature more year-round original scripted fare.

Speaking with reporters ahead of its formal presentation Monday, Fox entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly noted Glee's midseason pause will allow for the musical to return in the fall with what he hopes would be an uninterrupted run. "It's too much bookkeeping for the young audience," he said of the scheduling. "More than anything in this day and age, having preemptions and having to go off the air for a batch of repeats is one of the top challenges we have."

Bones will remain on Mondays at 8 p.m. in the fall before being bumped to Fridays after baseball when Fox goes entirely genre with Almost Human bumping the David Boreanaz procedural to Fridays. The drama from Fringe's J.H. Wyman and J.J. Abrams will lead into Sleepy Hollow, a modern update with a sci-fi twist on the classic story from Fringe's Alex Kurtzman and Bob Orci at 9 p.m. Gordon Ramsay's recently announced Junior MasterChef will kick off Fridays at 8 p.m., followed by encores of Sleepy Hollow at 9 p.m. -- the slot previously occupied by Fringe. Following its postseason baseball coverage, Fox will add Raising Hope and rookie Geoff Stults brothers comedy Enlisted at 9 and 9:30 p.m., respectively.

Holding for midseason are rookie drama Gang Related and comedies Surviving Jack, Us & Them and animated effort Murder Police.

Additionally, Fox has slated New Girl and a yet-to-be determined freshman comedy to air following its broadcast of Super Bowl XLVIII. The network more recently used the prime slot to showcase a football-themed hour of Glee. For its part, CBS this past season gave that honor to rookie drama Elementary, which ended up as the network's lone returning rookie.

Tucked into Fox's scheduling release was news that the network had greenlit its first event series in M. Night Shyamalan's Wayward Pines, tapping Matt Dillon to star in the 2014 drama. Reilly also confirmed the return of 24 as a limited series that will likely launch the event series franchise in May 2014, likely leading into Pines and using the format as a way to break free of the traditional fall and midseason launch patterns.

"I'd like to strike the word midseason from our lexicon," Reilly told reporters. "It makes it seem like there's only two places where we can really launch shows -- September and January. We want to stagger programming throughout the year."

Fox's complete schedule follows. (New shows in all bold.)

8-9 p.m. BONES (fall) / ALMOST HUMAN (new; late fall)
9-10 p.m. SLEEPY HOLLOW (new; fall)/THE FOLLOWING (midseason)

8-8:30 p.m. DADS (new)
8:30-9 p.m. BROOKLYN NINE-NINE (new)
9-9:30 p.m. NEW GIRL
9:30-10 p.m. THE MINDY PROJECT

8-10 p.m. THE X FACTOR (fall)/AMERICAN IDOL (midseason)

8-9 p.m. THE X FACTOR Results (fall)/AMERICAN IDOL Results (midseason)
9-10 p.m. GLEE (fall)/RAKE (new; midseason)

8-9 p.m. JUNIOR MASTERCHEF (new; fall)
9-10 p.m. SLEEPY HOLLOW encores (fall)

Late Fall:
8-9 p.m. BONES (late fall)
9-9:30 p.m. RAISING HOPE (late fall) (new day and time)
9:30-10 p.m. ENLISTED (new; late fall)


7-7:30 p.m. NFL Game (fall)
7:30-8 p.m. THE OT (fall)
8-8:30 p.m. THE SIMPSONS
8:30-9 p.m. BOB’S BURGERS
9-9:30 p.m. FAMILY GUY
9:30-10 p.m. AMERICAN DAD

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TV Notes
‘24’ Reboot Eyes May 2014 Launch, ‘Idol’ Return To Three Judges & More Fox News
By Nellie Andreeva, Deadline.com - May 13, 2013

The new 12-episode 24 event series, titled 24: Live Another Day, will likely launch in early May 2014 running into the summer, Fox‘s entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly said during an upfront conference call this morning. The original idea to continue 24 was as a feature, which died after 24 showrunner Howard Gordon and his team concluded that ”24 being compressed into two hours is not 24,” Reilly said. But after Fox announced its event series push six months ago, Gordon sparked to the idea of resurrecting 24 that way. The 12-hour version will keep the real-time nature of the original series, skipping some hours in the 24-hour period it covers. That would actually benefit the show, Reilly said, noting that 24 producers always felt that the spine of each season of 24 were 12 episodes containing major events, with the other 12 providing connective tissue. “Now we’ll get the best part,” Reilly said. While Fox envisions its limited series as stand-alone, one-time events, some, including 24, could become franchises with multiple installments though it is unlikely to have a new 24 every year.

Next May, 24: Live Another Day, exec produced by Gordon, Sutherland and Brian Grazer, will likely be paired with new Fox drama series Gang Related. 24 is slated to kick off Fox’s event series franchise, followed by M. Night Shyamalan’s Wayward Pines, eyed for a launch in fall 2014. The scheduling of the three programs is an example of Fox’s transition to year-round programming, Reilly said. “We try to break out the confines of the traditional broadcast season.” As part of that, Fox is splitting the Thursday 9 PM slot next season between Glee in the fall, Rake in midseason and Glee returning in late spring, airing into summer. Rake will get a big launch behind Fox’s coverage of the NFC Championship Game. Reilly also will be doing more series with non-traditional, shorter orders, like Rake and The Following, and wants to “strike midseason from the lexicon” as the only other time to launch new shows besides fall, instead opting to “stagger (debuts) throughout the year.”

Reilly wouldn’t comment on any American Idol judge departures beyond Randy Jackson, who recently announced his exit, but indicated that the judging panel will likely be paired down next season to three members. He also put the blame for the show’s declining ratings this season mostly on the format, which included expanded middle rounds that he believes killed ratings momentum. ”The format will have fresh twists for next season,” he said, noting that current judges Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban are welcome back.

Fox recently renewed Glee for two more seasons, but Reilly wouldn’t commit to them being the show’s last.

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Business Notes
Aereo Shakes Up Pricing
By Brent Lang, TheWrap.com - May 13, 2013

Aereo, the bête noir of broadcasters, is shaking up its pricing structure.

The cloud-based service allows people to stream broadcast channels on mobile devices, computers and tablets. It launched in 2012 in New York City, and has announced plans to expand to other cities like Boston, Chicago, Dallas and Washington D.C. throughout the year.

The new pricing plan streamlines things from five different options to two plans that cost $8 and $12. Users who sign up for the $8 per month plan will receive 20 hours of DVR storage, while those who opt for the $12 per month plan get 60 hours of DVR storage.

To lure in newcomers, people who sign up will receive their first month of membership for free, Aereo said. The new pricing plan will go into effect on May 15 the same day the service launches in Boston.

Aereo may be in expansion mode, but it remains controversial. The company has been enmeshed in a protracted legal fight with NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, PBS and Univision, who claim Aereo steals their signal illegally and is guilty of copyright violation.

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Critic's Notes
‘The X-Files’: Remembering mood and mystery of a sci-fi landmark
By Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times' 'Hero Complex' Blog - May 12, 2013

I came to “The X-Files,” which turns 20 this year, after its first season, and for a time I had no idea what was happening. This was a good way to watch a show whose greatest strength was its air of dreamlike mystery.

Folded across the turn of the 21st-century, it was a millennial show for a millennial time, reflecting a popular preoccupation with apocalypse and messiahs, puzzling phenomena and unexplained mysteries, psychic surgeons and alien autopsies, random mutations and science gone too far. It was also, looking back on old episodes, a time of pay phones, answering machines, tape recorders, dot-matrix printouts, padded shoulders and big eyeglasses.

The basics were fairly clear: Fox “Spooky” Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dr. Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) were FBI agents whose particular job it was to handle cases outside the bounds of conventional human crime — paranormal this and that. He was (mostly) a believer and she was (largely) a skeptic, which gave them something to disagree on.

Their superiors, some of whom were also villains, were not happy about their work, but for some reason — possibly there was a reason, which I have since forgotten, other than that there was a TV show to make — they mostly let it go on.

“Again, nothing but evidence,” Mulder says at the end of another hour in which they have discovered much and proved nothing, “and again ,no evidence at all.”

Between the “monster-of-the-week” episodes, the show also established a complicated ongoing story founded on Mulder’s search for his missing sister, whom he believed to have been abducted by aliens when they were children. This eventually worked itself out into a relatively neat intertwining of alien-colonization and government conspiracy stories.

Yet I preferred to not quite follow this “mythology,” to keep it a little out of focus. In the realm of the fantastic, you are always better off with questions than with answers, which even when they are supernatural are by their nature prosaic. And though creator Chris Carter and story editor Frank Spotnitz made sure there were more of the former, the truth, in the words of the series’ tagline, was better kept “out there,” a little beyond our grasp — just as Mulder’s “wanting to believe” was more interesting than any confirmation of his hopeful belief.

Characters such as William B. Davis’ Cigarette-Smoking Man were less interesting the more I knew about their motives, even if there was always something new and unsuspected (and sometimes seemingly arbitrary) to learn.

Indeed, similar plots and plotters have been recycled through countless films and television series, some of which took inspiration directly from “The X-Files” and few of which have had anything like that series’ allure, intelligence or impact.

I don’t know how much direct inspiration Carter took from “Twin Peaks,” whose two-season run ended the year before “The X-Files” began. (The mid-’70s “Kolchak: The Night Stalker,” with Darren McGavin as a reporter weekly engaging the supernatural, is its most frequently mentioned influence.) But the two have much in common: woodsy, murky Pacific northwest locations (“The X-Files” filmed in and around Vancouver for its first five seasons, and “Twin Peaks” filmed in Washington state); mysterious, sometimes nameless characters; and a deep investment in the notion that there is meaning in a beautiful image.

Even more than “Twin Peaks,” “The X-Files” explored mood as content. Though it was born in the age of the 4:3 aspect ratio and (comparatively) low-resolution image, there was from the beginning an intentional, emotional, painterly use of color and shape and a choreographic approach to light. You can watch the show with the sound down and still feel what you are meant to feel.

At the same time, there were occasional flashes of meta-fictional self-consciousness: “Where’s the writer? I want to speak to the writer,” a dissatisfied Mulder says at the end of “The Post-Modern Prometheus,” which was shot, in shadowy black-and-white, like an old Universal Pictures “Frankenstein” — and framed as a comic book, for good measure.

In the Season 3 episode “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space,” Mulder decries “the military-industrial-entertainment complex”; a few seasons later, in the Duchovny-written and -directed “Hollywood A.D.,” Mulder and Scully are transformed into Garry Shandling and Téa Leoni, in a big-screen, high-octane mangling of their lives.

Such episodes were, to be sure, exceptions. Most weeks, “The X-Files”unrolled at a deliberate, dreamy pace that was echoed in the measured energy of its leads. Both Duchovny and Anderson had a softness, even a sleepiness, superficially at odds with their roles as FBI agents and action heroes. They were not dry and deadpan, exactly (though they were, through the years, increasingly droll.) Theirs was a kind of restrained sensuality, a narcotic eroticism.

(I mean no disrespect to Robert Patrick or Annabeth Gish, who as agents Doggett and Reyes slid into lead roles in the last couple of seasons — seasons that certainly had some good and even great episodes — but they are somewhat beside the point.)

Scully and Mulder, Mulder and Scully — pivoting on that central “ul,” you can begin with one name and end with the other: Mully. Sculder. They are two sides of the same coin, interlocking yin and yang, one unthinkable without the other. It was therefore the custom of the show to endanger them in turns — to abduct, imprison, experiment upon and/or sicken them, in order to turn up the feeling.

Carter kept them scrupulously out of each other’s arms for most of the show’s run; their commitment was to the Job, and to the out-there Truth. For the first five or six seasons they were less Romeo and Juliet than they were Hansel and Gretel, wandering in the woods (there were a lot of woods in “The X-Files”), flashlights in hand.

For fans who wanted to see them romantically engaged, Carter’s refusal did nothing to dampen that desire, and likely compounded it. Eventually, he did bring them together, or stopped keeping them apart. Even then, though, the relationship was more glimpsed than explored — as if to say, yes, viewer, we will give this to you, and no, it is really none of your business.

When last seen, at the end of the credits to the 2008 “The X-Files: I Want to Believe” — the second film sprung from the series, released six years after the end of its run — they were rowing toward a tropical island (having spent the rest of the movie in the snow.)

For all we know, they are there still.

The episode “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space” screened as part of the Hero Complex Film Festival on Sunday evening in Hollywood. Look for more coverage from the festival, including from the 20th anniversary tribute to “The X-Files” featuring special guest Chris Carter, in the coming days. And feel free to leave your favorite “X-Files” memory in the comments below. [CLICK LINK]

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TV Notes
TV Upfronts: THR Live-Blogs NBC's Presentation
By Kim Masters, The Hollywood Reporter's 'Live Feed' Blog - May 13, 2013

Following Sunday's schedule announcement, NBC was the first network to formally kick off Upfronts Week in New York with its morning presentation.

11 a.m. It's go time at Radio City Music Hall. For the first time -- even the oldest among us can remember -- NBC did not have a conference call with the press ahead of its presentation. They're selling to the advertisers and the virtual-ink-stained wretches must fend for themselves. It may improve focus for beleaguered NBC executives but it doesn't scream confidence.

11:19 The Roots are warming up the crowd -- very loudly. They introduce NBC Broadcasting chairman Ted Harbert. He notes that there are 18 upfront presentations this week alone. Too many, he says before introducing sales president Linda Yaccarino. She highlights James Spader drama The Blacklist, The Michael J. Fox Show and Blair Underwood's Ironside remake among the new fare. In the past two years, she notes, Comcast has spent more than $23 billion on content. The numbers segue into a video of Amy Poehler as Parks and Recreation's Pawnee councilwoman Leslie Knope doing a year in review. She hypes The Voice as well as drama Revolution and pitches a show called Pawnee Fire, a nod to NBC's recently greenlit Chicago Fire spinoff Chicago PD.

11:25 NBC entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt is introduced. "Just glad I made it to the podium before the applause died down," he begins, humbly. He jokes that he will step down in 2014 to become host of The Tonight Show and Jay Leno will be taking his job. Some advertisers might be thinking it's worth a try. Greenblatt mentions The Voice and advertisers applaud. There's a video of the voice judges. Says Greenblatt: "It was a bit of a roller coaster season for us but I think we made really good progress." He mentions that NBC is just behind Fox for No. 2 among the advertiser-coveted adults 18-49 demographic. And that factoring out sports, NBC is flat while the competition is down. Yes, flat is the new up.

11:37 Greenblatt says NBC will use football and The Voice in the fall to launch new shows, such as The Blacklist (which landed the post-Voice slot on Mondays that helped launch Revolution). In February, the Olympics provide another launch opportunity for programming including Ironside. He runs through the schedule briskly. And then introduces The Michael J. Fox Show. Fox is in the audience and waves from his seat. The clip plays: Fox is a newsman with Parkinson's and there are some funny Parkinson's jokes that get big laughs. Yes, Parkinson's jokes. The audience applauds. Those jokes need to be used selectively but they worked in the clips. Next out is NBC entertainment president Jen Salke -- brighter out of the gate than her somnolent performance last year.

11:48 Salke introduces NBC's new comedy crop. First up: Mike O'Malley vehicle Welcome to the Family. A few laughs and light applause but NBC cuts straight to a clip from Sean Saves the World with Sean Hayes and Alice's Linda Lavin. Oops. It's quiet in here. The canned laughter is very audible. Hayes gets a couple big laughs with gay jokes and some physical comedy but overall, a lukewarm response to the clips. Salke then introduces Jason Katims' About a Boy comedy remake. The cute kid (fresh off 1600 Penn) is in the audience and gets an "aw." The clip is sort of low-key amusing; the audience seems moderately amused. It's like an audible "maybe" in here. And then The Family Guide, which is about a kid with a blind father. Quiet in here again. The Parkinson's jokes played better.

12:04 Salke turns to drama, starting with midseason shows -- specifically J.J. Abrams' Believe, which features a cute little girl with special powers. She's in danger! Seems like familiar as a premise, but who knows? Rand Ravich's Crisis is next. It features the creepy kidnapped kids in jeopardy premise. Seems like the audience is shrugging -- could either be the clips or that we're at the hour-mark of the presentation. The clips from dramas seem a bit generic; hope there isn't a quiz where they play the clips and you have to say which was which. Now the fall dramas: "A fresh take on Dracula." Another one! But Salke notes it's from "the classy producers of Downton Abbey." Looks very soapy with sex and gore. Definitely missing the Dowager Countess one-liners here. Very moderate applause. Ironside: Blair Underwood plays the Raymond Burr part. Guy to Detective Ironside: "What the hell is wrong with you? There are procedures, dammit, and they need to be followed!" It's like that. Underwood seems more pretty than gritty. Finally, The Blacklist with James Spader, which many dubbed one of the best scripts of pilot season. They saved best for last. Spader seems very at his ease as a former FBI agent gone rogue gone kinda good guy with a young female protégé and a few moves from the Hannibal Lecter school of creepy mentorship. The Takeaway: Blacklist and The Michael J. Fox Show by far played best in the room. As for the presentation, not dazzling but efficient and a huge improvement from last year's endless debacle.

12:47 NBC touts sports, then Greenblatt is back to congratulate Leno before announcing that Jimmy Fallon will takes over as host of The Tonight Show during the second week of the Olympics. Neither Leno nor Fallon is here though newly installed Late Night host Seth Meyers is -- and the advertisers clap with enthusiasm. Reality and late-night chief Paul Telegdy takes the stage to introduce a clip package from the network's late-night fare. Of course NBC is selling "the final season of Jay Leno." There's a video of Fallon -- he says he'll take all email questions about The Tonight Show and proceeds to share Greenblatt's email address. Then he and Leno share a duet, "Eight Months More" -- to the tune of Les Miserables. (More NBC Universal promotion? Leno sings ,"Who knows? They might beat Univision!" Naturally, that draws big laughs. Next up are a series of clips from the network's unscripted fare. The presentation is starting to feel very long -- it's lunch time, folks! I'm going to retract that comment about efficiency if this isn't it. Greenblatt returns to pump Carrie Underwood's three-hour live performance of The Sound of Music, which he wants to be the event of the holiday season when it bows Dec. 5. The executive tells the restless audience that he's wrapping up because, "I promised everyone that we would beat last year's time." Yes! But that's not hard. Not done yet, he thanks all the execs at NBC and quips, "Now I'm going to thank every person in the audience, individually." But not really as the presentation wraps and we're over and out.

Edited by dad1153 - 5/13/13 at 10:51am
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TV/Business Notes
Scott Sassa Joins Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey Network
By Cynthia Littleton, Variety.com - May 13, 2013

Two months after he was bounced out of Hearst Corp. amid a sexting scandal, Scott Sassa has surfaced in a new role as vice chairman of Robert Rodriguez’s nascent cable channel.

With Sassa on board, Antoinette Alfonso Zel shifts from the role of CEO to chief marketing officer for El Rey Network, set to launch in December with backing from Comcast. Zel was tapped as chief exec last year after Rodriguez and John Fogelman’s FactoryMade Ventures secured carriage commitment from Comcast.

“Scott is a dynamic, seasoned leader in television who has produced results at every stop he’s made, and he’s an innovator who understands the digital future,” Rodriguez said. “We are thrilled to bring him on board to make the El Rey Network what we’ve always envisioned it to be.”

Sassa had spent the past four years as prexy of Hearst Entertainment and Syndication. He resigned abruptly in mid-March after top brass at Hearst Corp. received emails indicating that he was entangled in an extortion plot involving a stripper. Sassa is a TV vet, having held top exec posts at Fox, NBC and Turner before landing at Hearst in late 2008.

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Nielsen Overnights (18-49)
‘Survivor’ finale lifts CBS to Sunday win
Averages a 2.6 for 26th season ender, down 10 percent
By Toni Fitzgerald, Media Life Magazine - May 13, 2013

Even with “Survivor” falling to its lowest-rated finale in its 26 seasons, CBS still earned an easy victory Sunday night.

“Survivor” averaged a 2.6 adults 18-49 rating from 8 to 10 p.m., according to Nielsen overnights, down 10 percent from a 2.9 for last spring’s finale.

That rating will likely rise when final numbers come out tomorrow, as the winner of this season wasn’t announced until 10:09 p.m.

Overnights measure only timeslot data, and not actual program data, so final ratings will be adjusted to include the final nine minutes of the finale.

“Survivor” was the night’s highest-rated show, admirable considering how long the show has been running, as a number of other finales aired.

ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” finale plummeted by a third compared to last year’s first-season ender (3.3), to a 2.2 at 8 p.m. That was flat to the previous week.

Lead-out “Revenge” averaged a 1.6, also down a third from last year’s finale (2.4). But the two shows did boost ABC to its best Sunday since January.

Fox’s “American Dad” (1.9) and “Bob’s Burgers” (1.6) finales were both off a tenth from last year’s season enders.

NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice,” with its penultimate episode, averaged a season-low 1.3.

CBS finished first for the night among 18-49s with a 2.2 average overnight rating and a 7 share. ABC was second at 1.7/5, Fox third at 1.6/5, NBC fourth at 1.1/3, Univision fifth at 0.8/2 and Telemundo sixth at 0.5/2.

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. CBS led with a 1.5 for “60 Minutes,” followed by ABC with a 1.4 for “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” NBC was third with a 1.0 for a repeat of “The Voice,” Fox fourth with a 0.9 for “The Cleveland Show,” Univision fifth with a 0.6 for “Aqui y Ahora” and Telemundo sixth with a 0.5 for “La Voz Kids.”

CBS was first at 8 p.m. with a 2.5 for “Survivor,” followed again by ABC with a 2.2 for “Time.” Fox was third with a 1.7 for “The Simpsons” (1.9) and “Burgers” (1.6), NBC fourth with a 0.9 for more “Voice,” and Univision and Telemundo tied for fifth at 0.7, Univision for “Nuestra Belleza Latina” and Telemundo for more “Voz.”

At 9 p.m. CBS remained on top with a 2.7 for more “Survivor,” while Fox moved to second with a 2.1 for “Family Guy” (2.4, the night’s No. 2 show) and “Dad” (1.9). ABC was third with a 1.6 for “Revenge,” NBC fourth with a 1.2 for “Apprentice,” Univision fifth with a 0.9 for more “Latina” and Telemundo sixth with a 0.4 for “Todos Somos Heroes.”

CBS was first again at 10 p.m. with a 2.2 for its “Survivor” reunion, with ABC second with a 1.6 for the final hour of “Revenge.” NBC was third with a 1.3 for more “Apprentice,” Univision fourth with a 0.8 for “Sal y Pimienta” and Telemundo fifth with a 0.4 for more “Heroes.”

CBS also finished first for the night among households with a 5.7 average overnight rating and a 10 share. ABC was second at 3.9/7, NBC third at 2.5/4, Fox fourth at 1.9/3, Univision fifth at 1.1/2 and Telemundo sixth at 0.6/1.


* * * *

TV/Nielsen Notes
Goodbye to ’90210,’ and the old CW
Series about pretty rich kids wraps up after five seasons
By Louisa Ada Seltzer, Media Life Magazine - May 13, 2013

It’s perhaps appropriate that “90210” is signing off tonight at 8 p.m. after a five-year run on the CW.

The show that, along with “Gossip Girl,” defined the early years of the CW, when the network targeted women 18-34 with aspirational tales of rich, pretty girls whose over-the-top drama was never believable but nonetheless enjoyable to watch.

But this week the seven-year-old CW will begin forging its new identity, one that appears to be quite different than the one personified by “90210” and “Girl.”

For the past few years, the most-watched programs on the network have been genre shows with sci fi or supernatural elements, such as “The Vampire Diaries,” “Arrow” and “Supernatural.”

Apparently that’s where the network’s future will be. The CW has picked up five new series for next year, and four of them have supernatural elements, including a “Diaries” spinoff.

There’s still a good dose of teenage angst, but it’s mixed in with science fiction, as in the new show “Star-Crossed,” about a teen girl who falls for an alien boy.

Never mind that “90210’s” viewership has been sliding, down to an average 822,000 viewers this season, according to Nielsen. It simply doesn’t fit with that new direction, and so it’s time to say goodbye.

On tonight’s finale, the Goo Goo Dolls and Prince Michael Jackson, the King of Pop’s son, drop by for a benefit being organized by Naomi.

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It looks like Dancing With The Stars will get another go this season. Any word on whether ABC will two cycles or one cycle this upcoming year?
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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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TV Notes
Late Night At NBC Upfronts: Jay Leno To ‘Pass The Baton” To Jimmy Fallon During Winter Olympics
Seth Meyers To Start Feb. 24
By Nikki Finke, Deadline.com - May 13, 2013

NBC’s Upfront presentation today officially announced that Jay Leno will end his 22-year run on The Tonight Show during the week leading up to the 2014 Winter Olympics which start February 6th. And that Jimmy Fallon will be introduced during the second week of the Sochi games when ratings are at their highest. NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt said Fallon will settle into his 11:30 PM Tonight Show slot on Monday, February 24th, followed by the debut of Late Night With Seth Meyers at 12:30 AM.

NBC Broadcasting chief Ted Harbert kicked off the upfront by explaining the changeover with this understated description: “Things are shifting and changing in late night.” But if any of the media buyers or advertisers in the audience thought NBC was going to candidly say why they’re taking off the network’s #1 late night host, they got a joke instead. Promising a “slight change” in late night, Greenblatt deadpanned, “I’m stepping down in 2014 and Jay Leno will be taking my job.” Greenblatt offered as explanation only the ”increasingly competitive” late night landscape and that the network wanted to “pass the baton while still No.1…” Then he launched into praise for the guy he’s replacing. ”We owe a great debt of gratitude to Jay Leno and extend Jay our sincerest thanks for an unparalleled run.” Stressing how Leno “always has been a gentleman”, Greenblatt added, “He took great care of the franchise and for that we’ll always be grateful.”

Neither Leno nor Fallon were in the upfront audience. Instead there was a taped “Special Message from Jimmy and Jay” telling advertisers to “get ready for the biggest season in late night yet: the final season with Jay Leno” and introducing Fallon. “Hey guys, I’m so thrilled and honored to be taking over The Tonight Show from Jay Leno. Any questions, send me an email at robert.greenblatt@nbcuni.com. I don’t want to make a big deal about the whole Tonight Show thing. It’s still 8 months away.”

With that, Fallon put on a headset and began to sing a sequel to the West Side Story song he and Leno warbled recently – this time, a Les Miserables tune with parody lyrics that included:

Fallon: He’s really going to leave this time.
Leno: I pass the torch to my friend Jimmy. But NBC will be just fine. Who knows, they might beat Univision.
Fallon: Robert Greenblatt makes good decisions.
Leno: What about Ready For Love [a reality flop that just aired for 2 seconds]? I’ll spend all day in my garage.

Meanwhile, Seth Meyer was in the NBC upfront audience, obviously unaware he’d be shown on camera live and looking awkward. “That was one of our better choreographed cast cutaways,” Greenblatt deadpanned, calling Meyer “one of the brightest, funniest, and most original voices of his generation” and emphasizing that Late Night would continue “under the watchful eye of Lorne Michaels”. Unscripted and late night czar Paul Telegdy stressed how “very important” late night is to NBC and hyped Michaels by praising his Saturday Night Live “legacy which shows no signs of flagging and remains relevant, topical and cutting edge.”

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TV Notes
Alec Baldwin/James Toback Documentary 'Seduced and Abandoned' Picked Up by HBO
By Tim Kenneally, TheWrap.com - May 13, 2013

Alec Baldwin is getting "Seduced and Abandoned" by HBO.

The premium cable channel has acquired exclusive television rights to the documentary "Seduced and Abandoned," which stars former "30 Rock" actor Baldwin, who also produced, along with Michael Mailer.

Morris Levy, Alan Helene and Neal Schneider executive produced the film, which makes its world premiere this month at the Cannes International Film Festival.

The film is described as "a cinematic exploration of several interconnected subjects: The Cannes Film Festival and cinema art, money, glamor and death."

Michael Mailer Films produced the documentary.

Shot during the 65th Anniversary Festival in 2012, "Seduced and Abandoned" features "fascinating and original portraits of Bernardo Bertolucci, Francis Ford Coppola, Roman Polanski, Martin Scorsese, Ryan Gosling, Jessica Chastain, Berenice Bejo, Diane Kruger and James Caan."

"HBO has long been a home for unique documentary films,” Baldwin said. “I’m grateful that they have chosen to present ours.”

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In Conversation: Vince Gilligan on the End of Breaking Bad
By Tim Kenneally, TheWrap.com - May 13, 2013

Knee-deep in edits for the final season of Breaking Bad, which premieres in August, the creator of television’s darkest drama talks with Lane Brown about violence as entertainment, the incredible pressure of bringing a beloved serial to an end, and what it feels like to have Dzhokar Tsarnaev as a fan.

How close to the finish line are you?
We’re very close—the shooting was finished April 3, and yesterday we finished editing our second episode of the final eight.

Are you happy?
I feel very happy. There was a great passage of time in the writers’ room where we were a little nervous about the outcome. Well, I shouldn’t speak for them: I was nervous.

In interviews last summer you still weren’t sure how Breaking Bad was going to end. Was this just a matter of specifics? Or had you still not decided whether Walt was going to live, die, or go to prison?
It was everything. We knew very little as of last summer. We knew we had an M60 machine gun in Walt’s trunk that we needed to pay off, and that was about it. We kept asking ourselves, “What would satisfy us? A happy ending? A sad ending? Or somewhere in between?”

You also seemed worried about ending the show badly. If you did end it badly, how would you know?
There are two ways of knowing if something ends badly: If you’re honest with yourself, you just kind of know it. And then there’s other people’s reaction to it. Right now, I am very proud of the final eight episodes. But we could put them on the air in a few months and people could say, “Oh my God. That was the worst ending of a TV series ever.” So then you’re left with that horrible incongruity for the rest of your life. You either think everyone was right, or you start to think, “I’m like the Omega Man. I’m the only one who sees it the correct way and everybody else missed the point.”

Is there too much pressure on a series finale now? Since TV dramas became more serialized and less episodic, and especially since Lost and The Sopranos disappointed everybody, the last few minutes of a show can completely change the way we think about the 60 hours that came first. By contrast, I loved The X-Files, the last big show you wrote for, but I can barely remember how it ended.
There was certainly a lot of self-applied pressure. I second-guessed myself. I was much more neurotic than I usually am, and that’s saying a lot. And there is a different pressure on ending a serialized show versus a non-serialized show. The X-Files is a good example in that it was mostly comprised of stand-alone episodes. But when a show feels like more of a character study, there’s more of an expectation that it will end in a correct and satisfying manner.

And viewers are more sophisticated than ever about storytelling now. TV recappers have made a sport of poking holes in plot work—you have to lay the groundwork for every twist or they’ll hang you. If you were ending Breaking Bad fifteen years ago, you probably could have gotten away with telling us that Walt and Hank had been the same person all along.
Oh, no. At this point, you can parenthetically insert “Gilligan goes pale.”

It helps that I’m not reading what folks are saying online. If I did, there’d be a lot of stuff I’d roll my eyes at, and stuff where I’d say, “Oh ****, we should’ve thought of that.” But the best thing to do, as a showrunner, is to please yourself. It could mean coming up with something that no one will guess. It could mean coming up with the obvious yet satisfying moment. I’m not saying what you’re going to get, but it’s probably going to be a mix of the two. There are things in these last eight episodes that are going to surprise people. There are also things where people will say, “I kind of saw that coming.” But maybe the obvious choice is the right one sometimes.

With shows about difficult-to-like anti-heroes like Walter White, Tony Soprano, or Don Draper, the ending feels extra-­important. The finale is when you, the showrunner, render a final verdict on the character and tell us whether your show is in a moral universe where bad people get punished. So, how vengeful a god are you?
I hope that if I were a god, I wouldn’t be a particularly vengeful one. I’ve realized that judging the character is not a particularly fruitful endeavor on my part, and yet I have done that. I’ve lost sympathy for Walter White, personally. Not thinking, I’ve said to Bryan Cranston things like “Walt is such a bastard. He’s such a ****.” Then I realized this might color his perception of the man he’s playing, so I found myself biting my tongue the last six months or so. And my perceptions of Walt have changed in these final eight ­episodes—I didn’t think that was going to happen.

But this is not a show about evil for evil’s sake. Walt has behaved at times in what could be regarded as an evil fashion, but I don’t think he’s an evil man. He is an extremely self-deluded man. We always say in the writers’ room, if Walter White has a true superpower, it’s not his knowledge of chemistry or his intellect, it’s his ability to lie to himself. He is the world’s greatest liar. He could lie to the pope. He could lie to Mother Teresa. He certainly could lie to his family, and he can lie to himself, and he can make these lies stick. He can make himself believe, in the face of all contrary evidence, that he is still a good man. It really does feel to us like a natural progression down this road to hell, which was originally paved with good intentions.

Why do you think audiences are so enamored of bad guys right now? It’s not just on TV—superheroes are being rewritten as dark, flawed characters.
Our viewing tastes are cyclical. Five years from now, a person like yourself might be asking, “You remember when everybody used to like antiheroes? Now they like the guy in the white hat again. How did that happen? What’s changed in America?” People want what they want, for as long as they want it, then tastes change and something else works. For many decades—and this was reinforced by the broadcast networks’ standards-and-practices department—bad guys on TV had to get their comeuppance, and good guys had to be brave and true and unconflicted. Those were the laws of the business. But people’s tastes are fickle, and now that producers of TV shows can be more nuanced than that, audiences are along for the ride.

Are there any honest-to-God nice characters on TV that you still find interesting?
SpongeBob SquarePants is a great show, and it centers on a character that is courageously nice. Why is SpongeBob interesting? It’s because he has passion. He has a passion for chasing jellyfish. I’m very glad people love Breaking Bad, but the harder character to write is the good character that’s as interesting and as engaging as the bad guy. My hat is off to the SpongeBob showrunners. It’s like how Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, except backward and in high heels. That’s kind of the struggle you face when you’re writing the good guy now instead of a bad guy.

Your original pitch for Breaking Bad was that you were going to turn Mr. Chips into Scarface over five seasons. Have you ever felt trapped by that promise?
No. It’s one of the most inadvertently smart things I’ve ever done. I’m not typically that forward-thinking. But the thing that intrigued me about Breaking Bad from day one was the idea of taking a character and transforming him. TV is designed to keep characters in place for years on end. The best example is M*A*S*H: You have a three-year police action in Korea, and they stretched that out to eleven seasons. It was a great show, but when you think about it, a weird unreality overtakes a television series. You see the actors age, and yet the characters don’t. I thought, Wouldn’t it be interesting to do a show in which the character became a slightly different character? We’ve abided by that for five seasons, and I’ve never felt the slightest bit hemmed in. I think that viewers knowing in advance that they were going to get a free-form character that was always in the process of metamorphosis allowed them to be free-form in their expectations.

In this post-Lost world, it seems like the worst sin a TV showrunner can commit is not knowing where his or her show is headed. Telling us there was a basic blueprint probably made it possible for you to say that you didn’t know exactly how the show would end and not get pilloried for it on the Internet. It’s a little like how Game of Thrones can kill its main character in the first season and not make fans think the show’s gone off the rails, because there’s the road map of the book series.
The Walking Dead is another good example—there’s source material for it. The question arises every week: Are they going to stick with what I know, or are they going take another path? So there are those dueling pleasures of “I can’t wait to see something I’ve already read visualized” and “It’s going in a different direction.”

Based on what you know about AMC, do you think it would ever let Rick Grimes lose his hands on The Walking Dead, like he does in the comics?
Does that happen? I’m not up to speed. You ruined it for me!

There are certain realities to making a TV show, and there are the actor’s feelings to consider. If I were the star of a TV show and they came to me and said, “Hey, the comic-book version of this is that you lose your hands,” I’d be like, “Screw that. I need them to act, man. What am I going to do, wear green gloves and you’re going to erase them for the rest of the time I’m on this thing?” It sounds like a big pain in the ass.

You’re in a small club: creators of serialized TV dramas who have elevated the form to art and sustained themselves for five or six seasons—Matthew Weiner, David Chase, David Simon. What do you have in common with those guys?
I know Matt Weiner a fair bit, but I’ve never met David Chase. I guess the short answer is that we all know what we want and we strive hard to get it. I’ve always had a fairly clear picture of who Walter White was, and I’ve got to imagine Matt Weiner knows Don Draper inside and out, as if he’s looking through Don’s eyes.

The other guys all have reputations for being grouchy and difficult. You seem like a nice guy.
I’m putting it on for this interview. I’m pretty dark, as you can guess from watching Breaking Bad. I’ve had my moments where I’ve blown up, but I always feel foolish afterward, like I’ve failed somehow—which doesn’t mean I won’t turn around and do it again next week. But this job is so hard. To work this hard and not be actively endeavoring to cure cancer feels like, What the hell’s the point? Most days, it’s just easier to be nice to people, and it bears more fruit, even if I’m not feeling like it.

Why do you think TV’s been so good over the past decade and a half?
The difference now is that writers are allowed to get away with more. We’re allowed to go darker. Thank God we don’t have what they had in the fifties, which was a sponsor reading all the scripts and saying, “I don’t think this character should be black.” But we could very easily have that situation again, because TV commercials get skipped over on TiVo. Ad agencies could once again take over sponsorship of individual series, and suddenly writers will be answering to them all over again.

But the best thing about cable TV is not the ability to say the F-word or show boobs or extreme violence. It’s the idea that a series lasts for thirteen episodes a season rather than 24. It’s amazing the quality of good work that happened in the fifties when a series would have to turn out 30-some episodes a season—it’s amazing that I Love Lucy was as good as it was! Or The Honeymooners. On Breaking Bad, I get to sit and spend three or four weeks an episode, breaking an episode and taking it apart, before a single word is written. That preproduction time is everything, and cable TV allows for that in a way that network TV can’t.

You seem enormously grateful to AMC and Sony for their support. Have you ever fallen out over anything?
We fight over money—or rather, I apologize for the overages that I incur and they yell at me. But I can point to a good standoff that I lost. We had an executive at AMC, a woman named Christina Wayne, who said I used too much music in my first cut of the pilot episode—I had just brought my iPod into the editing room. This executive said, “Don’t you trust your material? Do you think you need music to sell it?” I got so bent out of shape that I wrote an e-mail to her boss, which I really regret, trying to get her in trouble with him. But in hindsight, she was in the right, and if you watch Breaking Bad now, there’s more silence than music. Show writers can be wrong just as often as anybody else, and if enough people tell you that you’re drunk—or if one really, really smart person tells you you’re drunk—you need to sit down.

One of the criticisms of Breaking Bad that keeps coming up is over the female characters. Skyler White is seen by some as this henpecking woman who stands in the way of all of Walt’s fun.
Man, I don’t see it that way at all. We’ve been at events and had all our actors up onstage, and people ask Anna Gunn, “Why is your character such a bitch?” And with the risk of painting with too broad a brush, I think the people who have these issues with the wives being too bitchy on Breaking Bad are misogynists, plain and simple. I like Skyler a little less now that she’s succumbed to Walt’s machinations, but in the early days she was the voice of morality on the show. She was the one telling him, “You can’t cook crystal meth.” She’s got a tough job being married to this *******. And this, by the way, is why I should avoid the Internet at all costs. People are griping about Skyler White being too much of a killjoy to her meth-cooking, murdering husband? She’s telling him not to be a murderer and a guy who cooks drugs for kids. How could you have a problem with that?

We’re talking now just a few days after the Boston Marathon bombings, and I’m sure you’ve been watching the news. Did you see that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had tweeted that he was a Breaking Bad fan?
No. Jesus.

He also tweeted, “Breaking Bad taught me how to dispose of a corpse.”
Oh, for f***’s sake. Oh, Jesus Christ. No, I did not know that.

Yours is a dark show on which fictional people do terrible things—how much do you worry about inspiring real-life lunatics?
Maybe I don’t worry as much as I should. Jesus. I co-wrote the pilot episode of The Lone Gunmen, which was a spinoff of The X-Files; in it, there was a plot to fly 767s into the World Trade Center. That was about six months before 9/11. I remember when that day came, watching CNN just like everyone else in America, just absolutely horrified, stunned into disbelief. I turned on the TV, and I’m looking at the smoke, and I’m like, Wait a minute. We wrote this. I have no evidence that any of those *******s that did that on 9/11 had ever seen the show. Not that many people had actually seen the show. But you have those moments. Hopefully, it doesn’t need to be said that you don’t want to inspire evil and madness and hatred in any way, shape, or form. It’s not going to stop me from writing. It’s not going to paralyze me. But those moments give you pause.

Have you ever worried that one of Breaking Bad’s violent moments might have gone too far?
The scene I had trouble watching in the editing room—I would actually avert my own eyes—was when Victor gets his throat slit with a box cutter. I found that agonizing to watch. Again, hopefully it goes without saying that moments like that are meant to do the opposite of make violence look attractive or sexy. They are meant to unsettle and upset. People could argue, and I would not argue back, that Breaking Bad is oftentimes too violent. But the only thing that would really trouble me is if anyone said Breaking Bad sells violence in an attractive fashion, like something for young men to strive for. That would hurt, but I don’t think we do that.

Do you think there’s ever a moral imperative to pull back on the violence?
I don’t think there should be any kind of edict or mandate imposed by anyone else. However, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect a writer in my position to know where to draw the line him- or herself. It’s up to the writer to know the difference between a dark story that is basically instructive and a cautionary tale.

Breaking Bad does seems to be responsible, or at least realistic, in the way it uses guns. On the show, guns are jamming all the time, and characters get killed by their own weapons. When Walt buys a gun, the dealer lectures him on how ineffective it’ll be in a high-pressure situation.
I’m a gun owner, and I grew up in the South. Guns are ingenious mechanisms, the product of many thousands of hours of brilliant engineering. You can ascribe to them evil or good. I’ve never hunted, but I find target shooting very relaxing. But it goes without saying guns shouldn’t be used to murder innocent schoolkids. I’m not anti-gun. I’m not anti–claw hammer either. But I am against having them in the hands of lunatics.

Children are always under threat on Breaking Bad, which makes me wonder: Did you rethink anything that happens in these final episodes after the Newtown school shooting?
No. But Newtown was so ****ing horrible. It’s been such a bad few months. You’re watching the news, and you see the Kardashians, and you’re like, Is this the best news people can give us? And then you have a week like this one [with the Boston Marathon bombings and the subsequent manhunt], and you’re like, Bring back the Kardashians!

How do you identify yourself politically?
I’m not real comfortable talking about politics. I’m probably more conservative than most folks in the business. But the best way I can put it to you is, here at age 46, I am less interested in politics than I’ve ever been in my life. Politics don’t serve a lot of good. I’m not talking about government—government serves a lot of good. But politics don’t seem to be reaping a lot of positive benefits these days.

What do you think of the drug laws in the U.S.?
I understand why a drug like meth would be illegal, but I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about our laws. Our country is run by good people, more or less, who want the best for their own families, but as with most things that pass through the filter of politics, things get messed up. The idea of keeping illegal drugs out of the hands of little kids is a sound idea. But I don’t pretend to have any answers about how things could suddenly, instantly, magically be better overnight.

How did you settle on meth as the central drug in the show? It’s obviously not the sexiest drug.
I was on a phone call in 2004 with Tom Schnauz, who was a writer with me on The X-Files. We’ve known each other since NYU back in the eighties. He had read a New York Times article about a meth lab somewhere that was getting a bunch of neighborhood kids sick. We were trying to figure out what we were going to do next, because The X-Files had just ended and writing jobs were few and far between. “Should we be greeters at Walmart? Should we put a meth lab in the back of an RV?” It was in the midst of joking around that this idea struck home: What would an otherwise law-abiding person be doing in a meth lab in the back of an RV? That was the eureka moment for me.

And meth makes perfect sense, story-wise, for Breaking Bad. Unlike marijuana or cocaine, it’s a completely synthesized drug that needs a chemist and not a farmer to make. I liked the idea of Walt being good at chemistry and having a unique set of skills that would allow him to cook the best meth available. And it’s also just a nasty, terrible drug that destroys people and whole communities.

How did you choose Albuquerque as the setting? The Southwest is the fastest-growing part of the U.S., but it’s not often portrayed in entertainment.
It was a wonderful happenstance, but it was borne strictly of economics. Albuquerque and the State of New Mexico have been very welcoming in a way that California has not. In the first script, Breaking Bad was set in Southern California, in Riverside. During preproduction, Sony said, “What do you think about shooting in Albuquerque, New Mexico? We’ll get a 25 percent rebate on monies spent within the state.” I thought, You know what? More money on the screen. How can you turn that down? They said, “It’ll be great. All you’ll do is replace the license plates and call it California.” I said, “No, then we’d be shooting in a town where we can never look east.” We’d always have to be avoiding the Sandia Mountains! So we changed the setting to New Mexico.

Is there any product placement on Breaking Bad?

Chrysler has been great to us. Walt bought Junior a Dodge Challenger. Walt does doughnuts and then he lights the thing on fire and he blows it up. I was amazed they let us do that. Talk about product misuse.

But some of the moments that seem like overt product placement were not. We gave free ad time to Funyuns. We used Denny’s a couple of times, and Denny’s never paid us a dime. I think we had to pay for the privilege. I just love the idea of Denny’s as a place Walt and Jesse would go after having watched a guy get his throat slit. They put him in a barrel and dissolve him with acid, then they say, “Hey, let’s go to Denny’s. We’ll get a Grand Slam.” Chili’s and the Olive Garden turned us down, by the way.

What’s your obsession with fast food? There’s Gus’s chicken restaurant on Breaking Bad, and there’s Home Fries, the 1998 Drew Barrymore–Luke Wilson movie that you wrote, which was set in a burger place.
I spent a lot of time in fast-food restaurants as a kid. God, I remember the first McDonald’s in the little town where I grew up, Farmville, Virginia. When I was about 10 years old, the first McDonald’s went up, and that was like the biggest treat in the world. So I don’t know, maybe it hearkens back to that. I’m not as enamored of it now. I’ve been able to eat at the French Laundry since then, so McDonald’s has kind of paled.

In this issue, our TV critic Matt Zoller Seitz argues that TV has become a director’s medium.
I disagree. There’s a perfectly good medium for directors, and it’s called film. TV is a writer’s medium. I am chauvinistic toward writing because that’s where I came from. And when executives get excited about getting a superstar movie director to direct the pilot of a new TV show, I think to myself, That’s all well and good, but what happens after that? That superstar director goes away, and you’ve still got 100 hours to fill. Who’s the first person on the ground making those 100 hours happen? It’s invariably the writer.

Have shows like yours changed the mission of movies, do you think? A two-hour movie can’t explore a character’s psychology nearly as well as a six-hour TV series. With movies like Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty, you’re seeing more procedurals that dispense with backstory altogether, presumably because they can’t do the job as well.
I love movies, and I love TV. In TV, you have the time to get deeper into a character, but movies are a two-hour block of time in which we get transported to another place. We’ll always have Paris, and we’ll always have movies. But we’re going through a time, unfortunately, when the big movie studios are run by folks that are more obsessed than ever with the bottom line and who probably love movies less than any studio hierarchy that’s ever existed in my life. Back in the day, when the Irving Thalbergs and Louis B. Mayers ran the business, those guys could bite your head off. Those guys were tough sons of bitches, but they loved movies. They weren’t obsessed with counting beans. The problem with the movie business now is that it’s marketing-driven—driven by demographics, by spreadsheets and flowcharts and all this **** that has nothing to do with storytelling. But the movie itself, the structure of the movie, will always be with us. And occasionally a really great movie for grown-ups does sneak through.

It seems like it’s harder to get a green light for a smart movie than to actually make one.
I learned a great lesson from Michael Mann years ago. I was working on a script for him that became Hancock. It was a rewrite I was doing of someone else’s script, and I said to Michael in one of the first meetings, “What is this about? What’s the theme of it? What do we want to impart to the audience on a subconscious level?” He just looked at me kind of blankly and said, “Vince, come up with a good character, tell the story, and keep the audience engaged. Themes are for professors with patches on their elbows.” I learned not to get hung up on the subtext. Just pay attention to what’s going on under your nose, and the rest will take care of itself.

Which other TV shows do you watch?
I watch more TV than I should when I get home, because I need it to decompress. I invariably wind up watching non-scripted stuff. I don’t mean reality TV—I’m not a big fan of that, because honestly it’s as scripted as Breaking Bad is. I love documentaries. But put me in front of a TV that’s playing Modern Marvels, I’ll watch that for ten hours straight. Like the history of carbon and all its many uses, or tungsten, or how do they strip-mine a mountain, or how they make explosives. How It’s Made is a fun show. I love the Food Network. I love Good Eats. I don’t want politics. I don’t want characters. I want to learn how something is made, how it was created, who came up with it.

There’s also a channel, ME TV, that I watch endlessly—old episodes of Columbo and Perry Mason, which I didn’t know that well. I’ll watch Twilight Zone anytime it’s on the air even though I’ve seen it a hundred times. I’ll watch Lost in Space or Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. They’ve got all these fun old fifties and sixties shows that are very well written, and yet because they’re so far in the past, they allow me to just turn my brain off and vegetate, which is something I need when I get home.

I was in a pitch meeting with the head of a network, and I started to pitch Breaking Bad, and he says, “It sounds a little like Weeds.” I said, “What is Weeds?” I’m pretty sure it hadn’t gone on Showtime yet, and regardless I didn’t have Showtime. If I’d known about Weeds, I would have never pitched Breaking Bad.

With Breaking Bad nearly over, what will you do next? How serious is the talk about a Saul Goodman spinoff series?
We’re in early discussions for a spinoff. In my dream version of it, I would help create the pilot and arc out the first season and then basically transition away and let Peter Gould, who created the character, run it.

What would the tone be?
We’re still trying to figure out whether it’s a half-hour or an hour. It’s lighter than Breaking Bad, but it’s not a sitcom. I have a hard time with most modern sitcoms because the structure is so self-limiting. You have to have a laugh every eleven seconds, which is so artificial. It’s like Kabuki theater. It’s so unrealistic to me. Not to cast aspersions toward an entire art form, I just have a hard time relating to sitcoms, except for older ones like All in the Family, which were leavened with plenty of drama.

I rewatched all 54 hours of Breaking Bad last week to prepare for this interview, and I found myself enjoying it more than I did when I was watching week to week. How do you think binge-watching changes the experience of your show?
I don’t know, because I’ve never binge-watched anything. My butt starts hurting too much. But I’ll tell you, I am grateful as hell for binge-watching. I am grateful that AMC and Sony took a gamble on us in the first place to put us on the air. But I’m just as grateful for an entirely different company that I have no stake in whatsoever: Netflix. I don’t think you’d be sitting here interviewing me if it weren’t for Netflix. In its third season, Breaking Bad got this amazing nitrous-oxide boost of energy and general public awareness because of Netflix.

Before binge-watching, someone who identified him- or herself as a fan of a show probably only saw 25 percent of the episodes. X-Files fans would say to me, “I love that show. I’m a big fan.” I’d say, “Well, did you see this episode?” “No. I didn’t see that one. Which ones did you write?” And every episode they’d mention would be one I didn’t write. But it’s a different world now.

Having binge-watched, I have to ask: What can you tell me about the ending of Breaking Bad?
In my mind, the ending is a victory for Walt. You might see the episode and say, “What the **** was he talking about?” But it’s a somewhat happy ending, in my estimation.

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TV Sports
Mayweather Bout Delivers 1 Million PPV Buys: Showtime
By R. Thomas Umstead, Multichannel News

Floyd “Money” Mayweather extended his 1 million pay-per-view buy streak to five with his decisive victory over Robert Guerrero.

According to Showtime Sports executive vice presidents and general manager Stephen Espinoza, the May 4 boxing match in which Mayweather earned a lopsided decision over Guerrero generated slightly more than 1 million buys. That marked the fifth consecutive time that a Mayweather-headed card produced at least 1 million PPV buys.

Carrying a suggested retail of $59.99, the May 4 bout was the first Mayweather PPV event distributed by Showtime as part of a deal reached this past February that calls for the pay TV service to distribute six of the pound-for-pound champion's fights over a 30-month span.

“The fight’s performance reconfirms what we already knew that Floyd Mayweather is the biggest PPV draw in boxing and in all of sports,” said Espinoza. “The fact that we were able to generate 1 million buys without the benefit of a well-known opponent is really a testament to Floyd’s continuing popularity.”

The buy-rate for Mayweather’s next encounter could jump significantly: Espinoza said the network has entered into “preliminary negotiations” for a potential Sept. 14 match against hard-hitting, undefeated Mexican junior middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez.

However, the fight could compete that night with a potential HBO PPV card featuring welterweight champion Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez. Bradley and Marquez defeated former pound-for-pound PPV boxing champ Manny Pacquiao in 2012.

Pacquiao is reportedly moving toward a Nov. 23 PPV match against Brandon Rios from Macau, China.

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TV Notes
Live-Blog: Fox’s Upfront Presentation
By Nellie Andreeva, Deadline.com - May 13, 2013

Fox decided to shake things up in their upfront presentation today. After talking about the increasing portion of viewing of Fox shows being time shifted, Fox entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly threw out the traditional night-by-night lineup presentation for the first time in favor by introducing the network’s new shows by genre.

First off was comedy, which made for unfavorable comparisons to the comedic banter Reilly and head of sales Toby Byrne opened the presentation with. Among the more serious exchanges, Byrne acknowledged that after eight seasons on top, “we slipped a bit,” with Reilly responding that “I’m confident we will be back at No.1 next season.”

Always high on star power, the network brought out on stage the stars of all of its new comedies and actors from all returning ones to a big applause. After a schtick between New Girl‘s Max Greenfield who found an opportunity to show off his biceps, and Reilly, Reilly screened trailers for the network’s five new comedy series, with the Andy Samberg’s cop show Brooklyn Nine-Nine getting a very big applause.

More banter, this time seemingly unscripted and awkwardly funny, during the introduction by Reilly of a potpourri of Fox reality stars on stage. “Where is Randy,” Simon Cowell asked. Responded Ryan Seacrest, “Ask Kevin,” with Reilly standing next to him. Cowell would not discuss new judges addition to The X Factor, which is launching auditions in two weeks, noting that there will be some changes to the format next season.

Fox’s drama package highlights breakout The Following, and the audience approves. Star Kevin Bacon, on stage alongside the stars of Fox’s new and returning shows, received the biggest ovation of the presentation. Greg Kinnear, who was tasked with introducing Fox’s new drama clip package, also drew largely positive reaction to his new Fox drama Rake.

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TV Notes
James Gandolfini's 'Criminal Justice' Gets Limited Series Order From HBO
By Tim Kenneally, TheWrap.com - May 13, 2013

After all those years of being mobbed up for HBO, "The Sopranos" star James Gandolfini is tackling the justice system from another angle.

HBO has given the greenlight to the pilot "Criminal Justice," which will air as a seven-hour limited series. Gandolfini will star in the series, which is described as a "New York City crime drama."

Based on the BBC series of the same title, the HBO series is being produced by the premium cable channel in association with BBC Worldwide Productions.

Peter Moffat, who created the BBC series, will executive produce, as will Gandolfini, Jane Tranter, Mark Armstrong and Nancy Sanders. Garrett Basch will produce.

"Schindler's List" writer Steven Zaillian is co-writing the series with Richard Price ("The Wire"), and will also direct. Both are executive producing.

In addition to Gandolfini, "Four Lions" actor Riz Ahmed, Bill Camp ("Lawless"), Payman Maadi and Poorna Jagannathan are also among the cast.

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post #86935 of 93648
Critic's Notes
Snap Judgments on NBC’s New Shows
By Matt Zoller Seitz, Vulture.com (New York Magazines) - May 13, 2013

Vulture's TV critic, Matt Zoller Seitz, will be watching and evaluating the early clips and concepts of each of the new shows unveiled at this year's upfronts. Here are his thoughts on NBC's shows.

The Blacklist
The gist:
James Spader plays Raymond "Red" Reddington, a.k.a. “The Concierge of Crime,” a former government agent turned wanted fugitive who comes out of exile to begin helping rookie profiler Elizabeth "Liz" Keen (Megan Boone) catch bad guys, starting with a terrorist who wants to kidnap a general’s daughter.
Gut reaction: I’m so very, very, very tired of Thomas Harris–inspired Hannibal Lecter–plus-law-enforcement-dopplegänger story lines; howzabout you? (He turned himself in, and he still acts like he’s in control — oooo, scary.) But Spader is TV’s greatest A-list weirdo — so charismatic, imaginative, and flat-out fun to watch that I could see this lasting at least one season based on his star power alone. Maybe they can bring in his old Boston Legal co-star William Shatner for a cameo now and again?

The gist:
Blair Underwood plays the title character, William Ironside, an arrogant but brilliant detective in a wheelchair who doesn’t let his physical limitations hem in his brainpower or thirst for justice. Based (loosely) on the seventies police show starring Raymond Burr.
Gut reaction: Underwood is a terrific and inexplicably still-underrated actor, and here he finally has a starring part that’ll let him ham things up and be tough, sexy, volatile and eccentric. If the show itself doesn’t prove to be the usual thin NBC cop-show gruel, it could catch on, but there’s nothing here to get prematurely jazzed about, besides the way Underwood sounds young–Jack Nicholson/current–Idris Elba notes when he’s righteously pissed.

The gist:
Jonathan Rhys Meyers (The Tudors) plays Drac in this series that seems to take its cues from 1992’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula, a.k.a. Francis Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula. This time, Drac is a newly arrived New Yorker promising to bring the latest scientific inventions to Victorian London, and maybe a bit of the old fangs-for-the-mammaries while he’s at it.
Gut reaction: It’s always a mistake to judge a show by its pilot, let alone its trailer, but at least NBC seems to have thrown a bit of money at a series in which production values are at least half the battle. Given pop culture’s unquenchable bloodlust for all things vampiric, this could catch on, provided the cast and story lines are as intriguing as the premise; but I wouldn’t bet on it, and if the ratings aren’t fantastic from the get-go, the restless suits at the Peacock network will drive a stake through the show’s heart faster than you can say Van Helsing (played by Thomas Kretschmann, yay).

Welcome to the Family
The gist:
Caucasian-Hispanic culture clash ensues when a couple of high-school kids (Joseph Haro and Ella Rae Peck) come up pregnant during graduation week, throwing their college plans into turmoil and cheesing off their parents (Ricardo Chavira and Justina Machado and Mike O’Malley and Mary McCormack, respectively).
Gut reaction: This is a great cast, and the executive producers (Mike Sikowitz of Rules of Engagement and Friends) and Jamie Tarses (of Happy Endings) have done good work in the past. But CBS tried a version of this back in spring 2012 with Rob!, and it didn’t last a half-season. This show had better be really funny, and move beyond its premise right quick, otherwise it’s adios.

Sean Saves the World
The gist:
Sean Hayes stars as a divorced dad and harried small-businessman who has to take care of his 14-year old daughter Ellie (Sam Isler). Hugging and learning ensue. And jokes. Jokes, people!
Gut reaction: Sean Hayes brings the fun; he always has. If the audience is happy to see him in a leading role each week — sorta like the character he played on Will and Grace, but older and with more responsibilities — this could work. Executive producer Victor Fresco isn’t known as a slam-dunk hit-maker (Better Off Ted, Andy Richter Controls the Universe), but his work has personality, and the cast (including Thomas Lennon) is sterling. I can’t see this one reinventing any sitcom wheels, but I’m still guardedly optimistic.

The Michael J. Fox Show
The gist:
Michael J. Fox, one of the most technically adept and universally beloved stars that ever walked the earth, in a new sitcom that acknowledges his real-life Parkinson’s and places it at the center of the action.
Gut reaction: Like you need to know more? Hit. Hit. Gigantic hit. More details here, like you really need them. Welcome back, dear friend, and Godspeed.

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Originally Posted by dad1153 View Post

TV Notes
Live-Blog: Fox’s Upfront Presentation
By Nellie Andreeva, Deadline.com - May 13, 2013

Byrne acknowledged that after eight seasons on top, “we slipped a bit,” with Reilly responding that “I’m confident we will be back at No.1 next season.”

Really going out on a limb as they only have the Super Bowl + the NFC championship game in primetime + a night of shows after the sunday late divisonal playoff game.
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Originally Posted by dad1153 View Post

TV/Nielsen Notes
Goodbye to ’90210,’ and the old CW
Series about pretty rich kids wraps up after five seasons
By Louisa Ada Seltzer, Media Life Magazine - May 13, 2013

But this week the seven-year-old CW will begin forging its new identity, one that appears to be quite different than the one personified by “90210” and “Girl.”

For the past few years, the most-watched programs on the network have been genre shows with sci fi or supernatural elements, such as “The Vampire Diaries,” “Arrow” and “Supernatural.”

Apparently that’s where the network’s future will be. The CW has picked up five new series for next year, and four of them have supernatural elements, including a “Diaries” spinoff.

Sure CW isn't aiming directly at females as blatantly as it was, but to say it's going in a different direction is just silly. It's aiming for the same teen girls and their romantic proclivities that is the current trend in the movies. With Twilight, The Host, Hunger Games and all those other YA fantasy franchises aimed at teen girls.

Adding more fantasy is the only differentiator between CWs previous goal and it's new one, and that's because it has slightly more chance of getting male viewers. However that only really succeeds now on a few shows like Supernatural and Arrow where the action and grit is far higher than the romance-heavy content of Vampire Diaires and Beauty and the Beast. The demo for those is still heavily skewed to females and the latest pickups will still pull in that direction. The casting is nearly all reliant on PYTs and even their marketing and social is still aimed at teenage girls and the show fans are still replete with shippers, because the network intentionally creates romantic angles to appeal to that audience.
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TV/Nielsen Notes
Sophomore Slump Afflicts Once-Promising TV Shows
By Bill Carter, The New York Times - May 13, 2013

The last thing network television needs is a sophomore slump.

Even with increased competition from cable television and online entertainment, networks could always count on new hits to be their strongest line of defense. And for decades the best thing about these new shows was that they continued to get stronger in their second season.

But in the television season about to end, some of the most popular new shows from a year ago have not built on their initial success — and in fact have wound up in premature decline.

The excitement that surrounded the introduction, in fall 2011, of comedies like “New Girl” on the Fox network, “Two Broke Girls” on CBS, and “Last Man Standing” on ABC, and the family-friendly drama “Once Upon a Time” on ABC, largely fizzled in season two, as their ratings fell.

That does not include the calamitous plunge for more marginal shows, like NBC’s “Smash,” which lost half its audience this year and was canceled last Friday.

“It’s something new for breakout hit shows to be down in their second year,” said Warren Littlefield, who put a generation of hits, including “Seinfeld” and “Friends,” on NBC when he led its entertainment division in the 1990s. “And yes, it’s alarming.”

Monday is the start of what is known as upfront week in New York, when the networks show off their new programming to advertisers. In the last few days, the networks announced the new shows they have ordered, and their message was unmistakable: We need new hits — a lot of them.

The four major networks will present a total of at least 41 new series next season, surely among the most to be introduced in one season. And they are not finished; other shows are expected to be announced within weeks.

Hit shows that gather momentum in their second seasons can create a cash cow that will produce revenue for years, even decades. Many shows that later emerged as cultural touchstones were helped by a jump in ratings in their second seasons, including “The X-Files,” “C.S.I.” and “The Simpsons.”

Not every new show last season faltered. The CBS drama “Person of Interest” grew, and ABC’s “Scandal” has caught fire this season. But most have skidded, for a variety of reasons.

Executives say one factor in the downturn for second-year shows has been the across-the-board ratings drop afflicting the industry. Every network is down in the category most closely watched by advertisers — viewers ages 18 through 49 — by margins ranging from 3 percent for CBS to 21 percent for Fox.

“Obviously, this has just been a terrible year for network television,” said Brad Adgate, the senior vice president for research at Horizon Media, a media buying company. “And it means this pilot season is the most important for the networks that I can remember.”

But there are other reasons. Anne Sweeney, the president of the Disney-ABC Television Group, pointed to changes in the content. “Each of those shows had different issues,” she said, referring to the slumping series. “Creative choices were made that impacted how viewers felt about them.”

Mr. Adgate said too much was asked of some of the new hits, such as counting on them to prop up whole nights. “In the case of ‘Two Broke Girls,’ I think CBS asked it to be a linchpin show,” he said. “It’s not a linchpin show yet, like ‘Big Bang Theory.’ ”

This season CBS moved “Two Broke Girls” to Mondays at 9 p.m., the so called tent-pole spot for that night. Even with delayed viewing counted, it is down almost a million viewers among the 18-to-49 group.

Mr. Adgate also cited the sweeping, often disruptive, issues network programmers face. “You have the competition from cable,” he said. “And now streaming video. And you have young people turning off their TVs. How can a show grow in that environment?”

One longtime programming executive for broadcast and cable networks, who asked not to be identified because of continuing business relationships with the networks, said the broadcasters persist in focusing on the number of new offerings, instead of picking a few promising shows and sustaining them. “They need to do more curating,” he said. “And stop seeing it as a volume business.”

Networks have also been hurt by the pauses in their seasons, when regular shows go on hiatus — sometimes for months — and are replaced by repeats or inferior programming. “Revolution,” the once-promising NBC drama, went on break from Nov. 26 to March 25, and did not reach the same ratings level when it returned.

Gaps are now filled with scores of attractive choices. “Every single day it seems like there’s a new player,” Mr. Littlefield said. “And, if you’re a network, it’s like, duck!”

One challenge came from ducks. The hit reality show “Duck Dynasty” on A&E wiped the floor with the network competition on Wednesday nights, with a finale that reached almost 10 million viewers and dominated in the 18-to-49 category.

That was one of a long list of cable shows, including “The Walking Dead” on AMC, “The Bible” on History, “Homeland” on Showtime,” and “Game of Thrones” on HBO, that attracted viewers and attention in a way that network shows could not match.

Several executives cited what might be called an excitement gap, with viewers much more stoked to see favorite cable shows coming back, and lukewarm at best about resuming relationships with network shows.

The most obvious answer would seem to be for the networks to act more like cable: take fewer breaks, run serialized shows in consecutive episodes, and finish narrative story lines in 10 to 13 episodes instead of 22.

The roster of new series being presented this week may be a signal that such a strategy is in the works. Mr. Littlefield noted that Fox took a step in that direction by withholding its most promoted new drama, “The Following,” until next January and then running its episodes straight through the end of the season.

“We’ll see more of that,” he said, but he pointed to the demands of the network structure, with so many hours to fill. There is no luxury of time to carefully make individual episodes, the way an HBO can with a show like “Game of Thrones,” Mr. Littlefield said. “It’s make a pilot and go.”

And the tendency of networks to blow up their schedules, moving shows in and out, makes marketing them almost impossible, said the veteran network and cable programmer who declined to be identified by name. “Only CBS has maintained consistency, and that has paid off for them,” he said.

CBS is about to finish the season as the winner in every important ratings category.

But if the networks do find more hits for next season, they will have to figure out how to stave off the sophomore slump that afflicted the last batch of breakthrough hits.

“It would help if the networks can create more excitement somewhere,” Mr. Adgate said. “When they don’t, the lack of interest just feeds on itself.”

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TV Notes
Univision and Sony Firm Up Plans for a 'Breaking Bad' Spanish-Language Remake
By Michael O'Connell, The Hollywood Reporter's 'Live Feed' Blog - May 13, 2013

Breaking Bad will live on after the conclusion of its fifth and final season on AMC. The Emmy-winning drama is officially set for a Spanish language remake that will air on Univision's UniMas in the U.S.

Sony Pictures Television and Teleset confirmed Monday that the studios will produce Metástasis, the first adaptation of Vince Gilligan's drama about an unassuming chemistry teacher who enters a world of drugs and crime when he's dealt a fatal cancer diagnosis. It's a first for the series and has already been cleared in most Spanish speaking markets. Univision had previously announced the project at its May 10 upfront presentation in New York, but Sony had not made the deal official.

“Critics and audiences love Breaking Bad and its original take on the drug dealing business,” said Angelica Guerra, Sony senior vp and managing director of production and Latin America and U.S. Hispanic. “It is a very relevant story for all audiences, produced with the highest standards, in spectacular locations with the best talent in the region.”

That talent is already locked down. Diego Trujillo (El Capo, A Corazón Abierto) fills Bryan Cranston's shoes as Walter Blanco, while Roberto Urbina (Che: Part 1, Correo de Inocentes) will play Jose Miguel Rosas, the accomplice role that's won Aaron Paul two Emmys. Sandra Reyes and Julián Arango also star.

post #86940 of 93648
Originally Posted by dad1153 View Post

Networks have also been hurt by the pauses in their seasons, when regular shows go on hiatus — sometimes for months — and are replaced by repeats or inferior programming. “Revolution,” the once-promising NBC drama, went on break from Nov. 26 to March 25, and did not reach the same ratings level when it returned.

No (Scatological Substance that has a tendacy to "Happen")!

This has been the death of MANY a show. People think the show has already been cancelled, and they move on to watch something else. When that show that was on hiatus returns, most former viewers are engaged into watching something else, so they don't return.
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