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Hot Off The Press: The Latest TV News and Information - Page 2968

post #89011 of 93667
Nielsen Overnights (18-49)
‘Big Brother’ leads CBS to another Thursday win
Reality competition averages a 2.3 rating among viewers 18-49
By Toni Fitzgerald, Media Life Magazine - Aug. 16, 2013

CBS’s reality show “Big Brother” slipped versus last week, but it still performed well enough to lead the network to a first-place finish among 18-49s on a slow night for broadcast.

“Brother” averaged a 2.3 overnight rating among viewers 18-49 in the 9 p.m. hour, according to Nielsen, up from a 2.0 the night before but off 8 percent from a 2.5 the previous Thursday.

It’s likely that ratings were inflated by coverage of preseason NFL games, which preempted regular programming in some local markets and likely did better than the shows that were prempted. Ratings are likely to be adjusted downward when official national ratings are released.

“Big Brother” was CBS’s only original program of the night, but it helped the network finish first with a 1.7 average overnight rating and 5 share in the demo.

ABC, airing all originals, came in second at 1.4/5. NBC and Univision tied for third at 1.2/4, Telemundo was fifth at 0.7/2, Fox sixth at 0.6/2 and CW seventh at 0.4/1.

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

At 8 p.m. CBS was first with a 1.7 for reruns of “The Big Bang Theory” and “Two and a Half Men,” followed by ABC with a 1.6 for “Wipeout.” Univision was third with a 1.3 for “Porque el Amor Manda,” NBC fourth with a 1.0 for a repeat of “America’s Got Talent,” Fox fifth with a 0.7 for a “Glee” rerun, Telemundo sixth with a 0.5 for “Alfombra de Premios tu Mundo” and CW seventh with a 0.4 for a repeat of “The Vampire Diaries.”

CBS extended its lead at 9 p.m. with a 2.3 for “Big Brother,” and ABC remained second with a 1.3 for “Motive.” NBC and Univision tied for third at 1.2, NBC for a repeat of “Hollywood Game Night” and Univision for “La Tempestad,” Telemundo was fifth with a 0.8 for “Premios tu Mundo,” Fox sixth with a 0.6 for reruns of “New Girl” and “The Mindy Project” and CW seventh with a 0.3 for a repeat of “America’s Next Top Model.”

ABC took the lead at 10 p.m. with a 1.4 for “Rookie Blue,” with NBC second with a 1.3 for a new “Hollywood Game Night.” Univision was third with a 1.2 for “Que Bonito Amor,” CBS fourth with a 1.0 for a repeat of “Elementary” and Telemundo fifth with a 0.8 for more “Premios tu Mundo.”

CBS was also first for the night among households with a 4.1 average overnight rating and a 7 share. ABC was second at 3.6/6, NBC third at 2.6/5, Univision fourth at 1.6/3, Fox fifth at 1.2/2, Telemundo sixth at 0.9/2 and CW seventh at 0.6/1.

post #89012 of 93667
TV Notes
‘Dish Nation’ Creator Stu Weiss To Depart, Co-EPs Michael Bachmann & Matt Blanock Take Over
By Nellie Andreeva, Deadline.com - Aug. 16, 2013

EXCLUSIVE: As Twentieth Television’s Dish Nation gears up for its second season, the syndicated show’s creator/executive producer Stu Weiss, is leaving to return to Studio City, North America’s largest on-air marketing agency, which he co-founded in 1995 and serves as the Chief Creative Officer. Studio City has been the official marketing partner of the Olympic Games on NBC since 2010 and Weiss, who took a step back from his duties over the past year to focus on Dish Nation, will now oversee the on-air promotions campaign for the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics, as well as developing new original programming for the company.

In light of Weiss’ departure, his No.2s on Dish Nation, co-executive producers of Michael Bachmann and Matt Blanock, will take oversight of the day to day operations onthe half-hour entertainment program, which features drive-time radio personalities from various markets riffing on what’s hot and happening that day in pop culture. The radio shows whose teams are on Dish Nation include Rickey Smiley in the Morning (out of Atlanta), Kidd Kraddick in the Morning (Dallas), The Heidi & Frank Show (Los Angeles), and Brooke & Jubal in The Morning (Seattle). Kraddick died suddenly a couple of weeks ago, but the other four personalities from his show are returning to Dish Nation. Dish Nation is kicking off its second Season on Sept. 9 after a successful first cycle. It is the youngest-skewing first-run program in all of syndication (median age 44.5). It is the the only entertainment magazine show to grow from November to July Sweeps and is No.1 among freshman syndie programs in key demos, including adults 18-34 (0.5 rating season-to-date), 18-49 (0.5, tied with Steve Harvey) and 25-54 (0.6, tied with Steve Harvey).

post #89013 of 93667
TV/Business Notes
CBS Blackout on Time Warner Cable May Last Until N.F.L. Season
By Brian Stelter, The New York Times - Aug. 16, 2013

More and more, it is looking like the blackout of CBS stations in more than three million homes subscribing to Time Warner Cable could last until the start of the National Football League season on Sept. 8, analysts who are monitoring the situation said this week.

That would mean three more weeks without CBS programming for the cable subscribers. The contract dispute is approaching the two-week mark with no hint of an imminent settlement.

“I really think these guys are going to need the N.F.L. to add a sense of urgency to this,” said David Bank, a media analyst with RBC Capital Markets.

Neither side in the standoff has mentioned any progress over the last several days. Both have continued to level charges and accusations of blame for Time Warner Cable’s decision to remove CBS’s stations in areas the cable company covers, which include subscribers in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas.

The issue centers on fees that cable companies are obligated to pay to broadcast stations for the right to retransmit them on their cable systems. CBS has asked for a substantial increase, widely estimated at a $1 per subscriber raise. Time Warner Cable has declared the demands exorbitant.

But the focus of the dispute is now additional rights to packages of programming that CBS sells to on-demand subscription video services like Netflix and Amazon. Time Warner Cable wants to gain access to that content; CBS insists it would mean Time Warner Cable was getting for free something it sells for hundreds of millions of dollars to on-demand services.

The only action on the conflict taking place in recent days has involved parties outside the negotiations. Three residents in Southern California filed a class-action suit against Time Warner Cable on Wednesday saying the plaintiffs would not have signed up with the operator had they known programming would be denied to them.

Several politicians including both California senators have urged the Federal Communications Commission to step in, but the agency’s avenues of input are limited. If either side makes a complaint of bad-faith negotiating, the F.C.C. could potentially intercede but neither side has made such a complaint.

While representatives of both sides have said the negotiations continue, no one is predicting the end is in sight.

The N.F.L. season has been cited frequently as the bridge too far because of expected vociferous protests from customers missing games. The cable operator acknowledged at the start of the blackout that it was removing the CBS stations well ahead of the football season because it would lose leverage in the talks once the season began.

But Mr. Bank said the lack of progress thus far points to the need for the N.F.L. season to provide a deadline to generate movement. “We’re going to follow this like a ping-pong game,” he said, but added, “I would think now that it’s going to take another several weeks.”

post #89014 of 93667
We TWC customers in the Charlotte region still have CBS and the CW, but have lost Showtime. My wife, a big 'Dexter' fan, is particularly upset. I'm upset because TWC is refusing to rebate back the cost of service lost - service I've paid for, and presumably will continue. But this whole hostage thing with content creators and providers battling it out in a game of hangman's bluff, is getting tiresome. And I presume these standoffs will continue indefinitely. If CBS "wins", won't the other broadcast networks follow suit?

Both of these behemoths will eventually win, but all of us poor, paying customers will continue to lose (even the cord cutters - they're paying for service as well). Where does it end?

edit: I just discovered that TWC has said they'll reimburse customers for the lost content. Someday.
Edited by archiguy - 8/16/13 at 1:25pm
post #89015 of 93667
Originally Posted by archiguy View Post

edit: I just discovered that TWC has said they'll reimburse customers for the lost content. Someday.
that means nothing to a fan of Dexter like your wife , are they gonna rebate the whole season of Dexter NO ! but by missing episodes then all the drama of Dexter's LAST season is gone to her .
I'd be royally PO'ed myself mad.gif
post #89016 of 93667
Originally Posted by Fastslappy View Post

that means nothing to a fan of Dexter like your wife , are they gonna rebate the whole season of Dexter NO ! but by missing episodes then all the drama of Dexter's LAST season is gone to her .
I'd be royally PO'ed myself mad.gif

I'm assuming that once Showtime is restored, the Sho-On-Demand channel (which is part of the package) will come with it so we can catch up then. And that's assuming those episodes will still be available; they don't stay on there forever.
post #89017 of 93667
TV Notes
The TV Recappers: From 'Breaking Bad' to Honey Boo Boo
By John Jurgensen, Wall Street Journal - Aug. 16, 2013

The biggest challenges facing most "Breaking Bad" fans during the crime drama's final weeks are coping with cliffhangers and nervously speculating about the show's conclusion. The stakes are higher for viewers like Donna Bowman. Every Sunday night, within a few hours of the final credits, Ms. Bowman completes a written analysis of the episode, decoding the narrative of one of the most tightly written dramas in TV history. She must anticipate questions in the minds of thousands of readers waiting to read her review online Monday morning and, if she's on her game, get some laughs in the process.

A 47-year-old theology professor at the University of Central Arkansas, Ms. Bowman has been dissecting "Breaking Bad" since its debut five years ago on AMC. Her own audience has ballooned with the show's prestige. During season 1, her weekly reviews garnered a couple of hundred comments each from readers. Her breakdown of last week's premiere episode (which set a viewership record for the series) received about 3,000 comments the first day. Her posts routinely get more views than anything else on the website paying her to write them, the A.V. Club, a sister publication of the Onion which attracts more than 1 million unique visitors a month.

"I'm very proud to have been there since episode 1," Ms. Bowman says. "That's a long time in Internet or television years."

If a TV series has mustered enough of a following to stay on the air, it has likely attracted scribes that churn out the episodic plot summaries known as recaps. In a reflection of how we devour and digest television now, the number of TV recaps has exploded in recent years. Unlikely outlets from political magazines to local news affiliates are publishing CliffsNotes-style summaries of "Under the Dome" and "Big Brother," piggybacking on the shows' popularity and thrusting themselves into competition with established entertainment sites and individual bloggers. (The Wall Street Journal's Speakeasy blog posts recaps of about 10 shows per week, from "Mad Men" to the reality TV spectacle "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.")

Recaps have emerged as a cornerstone of TV culture in a phase of major transition. For networks, they are indicators of buzz at a time when traditional Nielsen ratings don't tell the whole story. Though the weekly scrutiny annoys some producers, others monitor recaps to help guide storytelling decisions. When creators of the CBS drama "The Good Wife" were preparing to reveal a major secret about a character in season 2, "we kept track of the recaps to make sure the deceptive plot points were truly misleading," said executive producer Robert King in an email. Conversely, recaps of last season's big finale suggested that viewers hadn't fully grasped the main character's romantic motives. "Clearly, our plot movement here wasn't explicit enough. And we intend to address it," Mr. King said.

Yet the rise of recaps has most to do with the transformation of the TV audience at large. Not only are viewers more inclined to sound off online about the minutiae of their favorite shows, many are also looking for insights about a growing number of serial dramas with complex and sophisticated storytelling. The best recaps serve a dual purpose: guiding fans of a show through subtleties (or entire episodes) they might have missed, and serving as fixed hubs of discussion for readers whose viewing patterns are staggered by time-shifting.

Nine minutes after "Breaking Bad" ended last Sunday, Washington, D.C., college student Brett Rudman wrote on Twitter, "I need @andygreenwald to tell me what I just watched," joining other fans of the show in alerting Mr. Greenwald, a critic for ESPN's Grantland site, that they were awaiting his conclusions.

There's also a more basic driver of recap activity: They drum up steady web traffic for the content-hungry sites that host them. That has helped transform the role of professional TV critics, who in the past would weigh in on a series (in a newspaper or magazine column, of course) at its premiere or at pivotal moments in its run. Now that no longer seems sufficient to keep pace with viewers.

It's impossible to tally the number of sites that regularly publish recaps, but the demand has spawned a growing labor force: 21st-century piece workers who pound out posts during the graveyard shift between prime-time TV and the early-morning deadlines of the websites they work for.

Jacob Clifton doses up on various supplements—MiO caffeine mix, 5-Hour Energy drink, Prolab caffeine tablets, stovetop espresso—to cover up to five shows a week, sometimes three in one night. A freelance writer in Austin, Texas, he makes his living writing recaps for the site Television Without Pity, where some of his treatises run to 20 online pages and include made-up character dialogue that delivers his running commentary. It takes him up to four hours to recap a one-hour drama as he pauses each scene on his DVR, writes it up on his laptop, then moves on to the next scene. In a recent explication of the teen show "Pretty Little Liars" (season 4, episode 8) he made references to Homer (the poet, not the Simpson) and the Dust Bowl.

"If I can be the one to take a show so seriously that's it's ludicrous," he says. "Then my readers will feel less weird about taking the show as seriously as they do."

Some shows are more conducive than others to the recap treatment. Though "NCIS" is the most-watched program on television, its procedural crime-of-the-week formula doesn't leave many viewers clamoring for a post-show deconstruction. After author Rachel Shukert chronicled the two-season flameout of "Smash," an NBC show about a Broadway show, writing delirious streams of consciousness about "Smash"'s unintended absurdities, Amazon.com approached her to write a memoir about the experience. In the e-book's introduction, she wrote, "'Smash' destroyed my sleep patterns, my workweek, and, I feared for a brief time, my sanity."

People have been writing online recaps since the 1990s. Like any industry hitting maturity, however, this one is reckoning with big changes. Writers accustomed to the weekly rhythms of episodic TV have struggled with how to cover shows from Netflix, which dumps whole seasons onto its streaming service at once. Websites are recruiting professional comedians to riff on "Real Housewives" and veteran advertising executives to parse "Mad Men," leaving less demand for the entry-level writers who sell recaps for $20 each—or less—to get their foot in the door.

One occupational hazard: When a slow-starting show suddenly becomes a hit, as ABC's "Scandal" did this year in its second season, some sites were caught flat-footed. They'd ignored the show through in season 1.

"I wish I could get a do-over on that," says Daniel Manu, site director of Television Without Pity, the first website to build a broad audience by publishing recaps; launched in 1999 under a different name, it was purchased by NBCUniversal in 2007 and covers about 40 shows during the peak fall TV season.

Gilbert Cruz, deputy editor of New York magazine's Vulture, says, "Every site has to play the traffic game. If you were to remove the recaps from the site, we would take a huge hit." Post-mortems on last night's programming also give editors a head start on the 20-plus TV items Vulture publishes on a typical day. "Recaps are the reliable foundation. You know you're going to have that every morning. The challenge is to distinguish yourself with the writing."

Like TV networks canceling shows that sag in the ratings, recap sites routinely scrub shows from their lineups if they don't generate enough traffic or discussion. Hitfix.com recently cut recaps of the NBC singing competition "The Voice," one of the most popular shows on television. "The people on our site didn't have any particular interest. It petered out after a season-and-a-half," says HitFix Executive Editor Daniel Fienberg.

On the other hand, sites cover some series out of obligation to readers or the shows' perceived relevance. Todd VanDerWerff, TV editor and chief TV critic at the A.V. Club, says the animated comedy "South Park" can be punishing to review on a weekly basis, because the satire is overt and the characters never change. But the site has a mandate to document important TV shows in this way, not unlike a news outlet handling an obscure a political race. "It's like covering the Iowa caucus campaigns. 'South Park' is that for us," says Mr. VanDerWerff, who rotates writers on the show (now in its 16th season) to avoid burnout. Still, those reviews often rack up hundreds of comments, usually from readers debating whether the show has maintained or squandered its greatness.

In addition to current series, A.V. Club scribes are currently working their way through some that ended years ago, including "Friends," "Gilmore Girls" and "Freaks and Geeks." It's a library on defunct shows that viewers continue to discover on video. Mr. Manu of Television Without Pity says archived recaps of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "The West Wing," and "Friday Night Lights" routinely get tens of thousands of hits per month. "People are still trying to figure out what the heck was going on in 'Lost,'" he adds.

Like any trade, recapping has its version of combat duty. Though many networks make episodes of their shows available to reviewers in advance of the air date (usually on DVD or password-protected websites), sometimes they choose not to, especially in the case of finales and other carefully guarded episodes. Ms. Bowman enjoyed early access to most "Breaking Bad" episodes in previous seasons, giving her days for observations to "marinate." But she was stressed for most of this summer about having to critique the final episodes sight unseen. That contributed to her decision to focus more on her academic career, less on analyzing fictional TV characters into the pre-dawn hours: "I'm too old for that," says the married mother of two. "I'm getting out of the recapping game."

Showrunners have been known to praise and interact with certain recappers. Alex Gansa, an executive producer of the Emmy-winning thriller "Homeland," says he admires the writing of Mr. VanDerWerff and others. Overall, however, he says recaps are problematic, like reviewing a novel chapter by chapter. "This insane scrutiny and dissection of each episode as if it has a beginning, middle, and an end is kind of maddening to those of us doing the show. I can't read those things anymore," Mr. Gansa says.

Even the terminology is somewhat divisive. Though there are plenty of writers who simply run down the events in an episode, often in the style of a snarky stenographer, established critics distance themselves from the word "recap." Indeed, their weekly deep dives have become Rosetta stones to many fans of densely packed serials such as "Mad Men," which brims with literary allusions and self-referential symbolism.

Alan Sepinwall, a prolific critic who helped refine the form with his episodic reviews of "The Sopranos" for the Newark Star Ledger, says the recap boom has yielded a lot of great writing—and too many writers ruminating about the usual suspects, like "Game of Thrones" and other lauded cable dramas. "In theory, what's great about the army of recappers out there is that there are so many shows they could be writing about," says Mr. Sepinwall, who now writes for HitFix. "It's not evenly distributed."

Danielle Henderson entered the ranks of paid recappers by identifying just such a niche. She loved comedian Julie Klausner's breathless recaps of the "Real Housewives" shows set in Beverly Hills and New York City for Vulture, but she was irked that the site ignored her favorite version in Atlanta. She successfully lobbied for the job. It was she who later picked up "Scandal" in the middle of season 2.

Ms. Henderson, a 36-year-old PhD candidate in communications at the University of Washington in Seattle, is now writing her way through "Orange Is the New Black," the latest original series from Netflix. For the recapper, this has posed a peculiar challenge, because some of her readers have already seen all 13 episodes, which were released simultaneously on July 11. Ms. Henderson has set a pace of publishing two recaps per week, but has to avoid any reader comments that might shape her thinking about coming episodes.

One of her "Orange" writings included the assessment, "The chicken is both real and an allegory, a symbol of impossibility and freedom." Another one jumped off from a point of personal history: "I gave up on Catholicism in 1985 when, at 7-years old, I started lying to the priest in confession each week about the made-up terrible things I did."

Some of her readers have been pulling their own weight in the comments section by identifying references to the popular prison movie "The Shawshank Redemption," or speculating about the books that appear in the show, such as Virginia Woolf's "A Room of One's Own."

To some, such minute observations would seem superfluous. While visiting the Warwick, N.Y., home of her grandmother, Ms. Henderson's was working on an "Orange" recap when 80-year-old Carole Lacey interrupted to ask why she was typing on her laptop while watching a TV show. Ms. Henderson says her explanation of her side job perplexed her grandmother, as it does other members of "the TV Guide generation."

It's not that Ms. Lacey doesn't like television—she's counting the days until the return of "The Walking Dead"—she just can't identify with the urge to write or read about a TV show's deeper meanings. The grandmother says, "I don't know what's so complicated about it."

post #89018 of 93667
TV Sports/Business Notes
Fox Steps Up its Pursuit of Station Acquisitions in NFL Markets
By Rachel Abrams, Variety.com - Aug. 16, 2013

The two stations in Charlotte, N.C. that Fox Television Stations Group gobbled up in January may have only been the appetizer.

The station arm of 21st Century Fox is sniffing around acquisition targets in several major markets, including Seattle, St. Louis and San Francisco. The push is part of a larger strategy to add to its station holdings in NFL markets, particularly markets with NFC teams, the conference for which Fox has a TV rights package. Fox at present has O&Os in 11 of the 16 NFC markets.

Industry sources say Fox is actively looking at stations in the Seattle market. where Tribune owns the existing Fox affiliate, KCPQ-TV. There’s speculation that Fox has its eye on Cox Enterprises-owned KIRO-TV, a CBS affiliate. But sources cautioned that Fox is “turning over a lot of rocks” right now in the market and hasn’t zeroed in on a specific acquisition target.

Seattle-Tacoma is the nation’s 12th-largest TV market. The Seattle Seahawks are seen as an NFL franchise on the rise, which is only fueling Fox’s interest in the market.

The chatter about Fox moving into Seattle has to be some cause for concern at Tribune, as Fox’s affiliation deals typically give the network flexibility to yank the affiliation if the parent company acquires a station in the market. On the other hand, Tribune is about to become the largest outside owner of Fox affiliates in the nation, with 14 outlets, through its pending $2.7 billion acquisition of Local TV Holdings.

Tribune is also poised to own the Fox affil in St. Louis through the Local TV buy. Cox Enterprises also owns the Fox affiliate in the San Francisco market, KTVU-TV.

Fox was quick to yank its affiliation from Bahakal Communications’ WCCB-TV in Charlotte when it bought two stations in the market from Raleigh-based Capital Broadcasting. WCCB had been a Fox affil for 27 years. The move raised eyebrows in the station community and was seen as proof of 21st Century Fox prexy Chase Carey’s determination to add market share in cities with NFL teams. Football rights are not lucrative for local and national advertising sales, but they enhance the station’s bargaining power in retransmission consent negotiations with cable, satellite and telco operators.

In the past two years, TV stations have emerged as attractive acquisition targets again because of the windfall of retransmission consent fees (which Fox blazed the trail for a few years ago) from distribs and ever-increasing political advertising expenditures in key regions.

Fox’s ambition to add stations may be curbed by the FCC’s regulatory limit on station ownership, which bars a single entity from owning stations that cover more than 39% of U.S. TV households (with certain allowances are made for UHF stations). But there’s a groundswell among broadcast heavyweights to fight the FCC’s current station cap as an outmoded regulation given the size and scope of the largest cable operators and satcasters and the broadening of the media landscape in general.

Fox at present owns 28 stations in 18 markets covering nearly 37.28 % of TV homes.

Reps for 21st Century Fox and Tribune declined to comment.

Cynthia Littleton contributed to this report.

post #89019 of 93667
TV Notes
On The Air Tonight
SATURDAY Network Primetime/Late Night Options
(All shows are in HD unless noted; start times are ET. Late night shows are preceded by late local news)

8PM - The Middle
(R - Nov. 7)
8:30PM - Movie: Mamma Mia! (2008)

8PM - The Mentalist
(R - Sep. 30)
9PM - 48 Hours
10PM - 48 Hours

8PM - Gymnastics: U.S. Championships (120 min., LIVE)
10PM - Do No Harm
* * * *
11:29PM - Saturday Night Live (Martin Short hosts; Paul McCartney performs; 93 min.)
(R - Dec. 15)

(R - Dec. 22)
8:30PM - COPS
(R - Feb. 2)
9PM - Bones
(R - Sep. 24)
* * * *
11PM - Axe Cop
11:15PM - High Schol USA!
11:30PM - Axe Cop
(R - Aug. 10)
11:45PM - High School USA!
(R - Aug. 10)
Midnight - The Cleveland Show
(R - May 12)

(check your local listing for starting time/programming)
8PM - Austin City Limits: Alejandro Escovedo; Trombone Shorty (R - Oct. 23, 2010)

8PM - Sábado Gigante (3 hrs.)

6:30PM - Movie - Rudyard Kipling's The Second Jungle Book: Mowgli and Baloo (1997)
8:30PM - Movie - National Treasure: Book of Secrets (2007)
post #89020 of 93667
TV Sports
ESPN Challenger Will Try to Punch Above Its Weight
By Richard Sandomir, The New York Times - Aug. 16, 2013

On Saturday at 6 a.m. Eastern, Fox Sports 1 will spring into existence, propelled by a portfolio of major events purchased over the past few years, a gaggle of studio shows and plenty of hype about being the “fun” alternative to ESPN.

Fox Sports 1 appears to be the stiffest competition for ESPN because of the resources of its parent, 21st Century Fox, and the ambitions of its chairman, Rupert Murdoch, whose failed challenge to ESPN in the 1990s inexorably led to the newest one.

But even as it takes aim at ESPN, Fox Sports 1 has a long way to go to match an empire that is nearly 35 years in the making. Fox Sports 1 does not have nearly as many events, nor does it have an empire as large or revenue as immense as ESPN’s. But Fox executives are looking, for now, less at the impossible task of knocking out ESPN than at establishing a competitive niche.

For this, they look for inspiration within its own history of industry-altering start-ups: Fox News Channel in 1996, which has upended cable news, and the Fox broadcast network’s acquisition of N.F.L. rights 20 years ago.

“The question now is the same you would have asked Roger Ailes when he started Fox News: how do you deal with the 800-pound CNN elephant in the room, and with MSNBC?” said David Hill, the founding chairman of Fox Sports and a consultant to Fox Sports 1. “You don’t worry about anybody else apart from yourself or whether you’re going to fail.”

Fox News’s success was, of course, built on strong personalities and conservative politics, not acquiring events, as Fox Sports 1’s will be based upon. It has Pacific-12 and Big 12 Conference football and basketball; Big East basketball; Nascar; the UFC; the UEFA Champions League; Major League Baseball (starting in 2014) and World Cup soccer coverage (starting with the women’s tournament in 2015). And last week, Fox added the United States Open golf championship, paying $1.2 billion over 12 years to outbid NBC and ESPN to broadcast a sport it has never carried.

That’s a pretty good start compared with how NBC Sports Network and the CBS Sports Network began — and how they are now.

Another rival, CNN/SI, did not survive. Turner Broadcasting and Time Warner started CNN/SI as a news and highlights channel in 1996, but it had no sports events. ESPN countered by creating ESPNews. Death came to CNN/SI in 2002. “It was difficult competing with an organization that is dedicated to gobbling up rights,” said Steve Robinson, who was the executive vice president of CNN/SI.

Fox Sports 1 is designed as the spiritual offspring to the freewheeling “Fox NFL Sunday” show on the Fox broadcast network, where “sugarcoating the information pill” became the mantra. That has led to Fox Sports 1 now being the avatar of fun.

About that positioning, Will Leitch wrote on Sports on Earth: “Because nothing is more intellectually serious than ESPN!”

Eric Shanks, the co-president of Fox Sports, said: “We’re going to spend a lot of time in marketing on fun. It’s not Saturday night laughs at the Chuckle Hut. But being tough is fun. Buzzer beaters are fun. Tailgating is fun. Slam dunks are fun. We feel there’s a place in the sports landscape for a positive, fun, enthusiastic fan perspective on sports.”

That philosophy led Fox Sports 1 to hire Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole, known for their jokey approach as sports anchors in Canada, to play the same roles on its marquee nightly news show, “Fox Sports Live.”

It also led to placing Regis Philbin and a comedian, Michael Kosta, on the weekday afternoon talk show “Crowd Goes Wild.”

Still, Fox Sports 1 cannot divert too far from doing what is necessary to be a successful network: producing games and studio shows intelligently, and hiring people for the studio shows and game broadcasts who are enlightening, good company and maybe a lot of fun.

Shanks acknowledges that Fox Sports 1 will be compared, especially, to ESPN.

How well will “Crowd Goes Wild,” with Philbin and five of his cohorts, compete from 5 to 6 p.m. Eastern against “Around the Horn” and “Pardon The Interruption”? Will Onrait and O’Toole make fans flee ESPN’s venerable “SportsCenter” at 11 p.m.? Will Fox Sports 1 provide an alternative to Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith’s infernal debating on “First Take”?

Watching Fox Sports 1 begin its journey is Mark Lazarus, chairman of the NBC Sports Group, whose properties include the NBC Sports Network.

“There’s a role for everybody,” he said. “The sports pie is growing.” He added, “I think Fox Sports 1 will find, as we have, you get your report card every morning and you’ll have good mornings and bad mornings.”

John Skipper, the president of ESPN, said: “Having seen their offerings to date, we feel in a very good position to compete. We relish that competition. It will sharpen us.” He has taken some high-profile steps to counter Fox Sports 1, bringing back Keith Olbermann, swiping Jason Whitlock from Fox and hiring the political and sports statistician Nate Silver from The New York Times.

Fans now must find Fox Sports 1. It is replacing Speed, the motor sports network, on cable, satellite and telephone company channel menus. Its various locations around the country can be found on the Fox Sports 1 Web site. Fox has spent more than a year converting Speed to Fox Sports 1 in order to charge more for it. The company said it expected to have about 90 million subscribers.

David Bank, an analyst for RBC Capital Markets, said that the Fox negotiators’ goal has been to push Speed’s subscriber fee of about 23 cents a month to $1 in four years or so. “I don’t think anybody expected Fox Sports 1 to get 80 cents immediately,” he said, referring to a report published Thursday. “There will be a predictable ramp-up to profitability. This is a phenomenal business.”

A $1 subscriber fee can fuel a billion-dollar network, but that lacks the same octane that ESPN receives from its monthly subscriber fee of $5.54, according to the research company SNL Kagan. That fee translates to revenue of around $6.6 billion.

The difference in ESPN and Fox Sports 1’s finances may not play a role when the rights to the Big Ten Conference and the N.B.A. come up for bidding. Those are the next major battlegrounds where Fox Sports 1 may or may not alter industry history.

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Critic's Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - Aug. 17, 2013

Sundance, 8:00 p.m. ET

Daniel Day-Lewis won an Oscar for his steamroller of a performance in this 2007 Paul Thomas Anderson drama. He plays a ruthless man who rises from wildcat loner to oil baron, ripping up lost of land, and relationships, in his wake.

ABC, 8:30 p.m. ET

Meryl Streep fans have quite a choice tonight. On broadcast TV, for starters, ABC presents a telecast of this 2008 movie version of the Broadway musical, inspired by and showcasing the 70s music of ABBA. The thin plot has something to do with the daughter of Streep’s character, who is about to be married, and invites three men she suspects might be her father. The would-be dads are played by Pierce Brosnan, Colin Forth and Stellan Skarsgård, and the daughter, who has a much higher profile now, is Amanda Seyfried, currently starring in the movie Lovelace. And then there's the film Oxygen is offering...

Oxygen, 9:00 p.m. ET

More Meryl Streep fun tonight. In addition to ABC’s telecast of 2008’s Mamma Mia!, which begins at 8:30 pm. ET, Oxygen has its own prime-time Streep feature. In this 2006 romantic comedy, Streep plays a fashion editor who makes work for her new assistant (played by Anne Hathaway) a living hell – but a well-dressed one.

Starz!, 9:00 p.m. ET

In this second episode, it’s already time for a coronation. I’d say whether the lucky lady is Elizabeth (played by Rebecca Ferguson), but that would require a Spoiler Alert – at least for the history-impaired.

TCM, 10:00 p.m. ET

George Cukor directed this 1933 comedy, which I first saw in my college film class – back when I was taking the course, not teaching it. The movie still holds up, in no small part because of its truly all-star cast. This particular cinematic dinner party includes Wallace Beery, Marie Dressler, Jean Harlow, Billie Burke, and two members of the Barrymore acting family dynasty, John and Lionel.

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Business Notes
Comcast renews NBCUniversal chief Steve Burke to 2018
By Meg James, Los Angeles Times' 'Company Town' Blog - Aug. 16, 2013

Comcast Corp. has increased the salary of NBCUniversal Chief Executive Steve Burke and extended his tenure through August 2018.

The Philadelphia-based cable TV giant on Friday said it has extended Burke's employment contract for five years and provided him with a nearly 20% bump in base salary to $2.6 million, up from $2.2 million, effective Sept. 1.

Comcast cited Burke's efforts to sharpen NBCUniversal's business strategy, including making beneficial acquisitions and dramatically improving the company's financial performance, as reasons to renew his contract.

Burke's previous deal was set to expire next year.

As part of the renewal, the 55-year-old Burke will receive a $5-million signing bonus, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Of that amount, $2.5 million will be paid to Burke's deferred compensation plan and the remaining $2.5 million will held in restricted stock units that will be payable next year if NBCUniversal increases its profitability.

Burke's annual bonus will continue to be calculated using the same formula as before, with an eligible award of up to 300% of his base salary.

Comcast wholly owns NBCUniversal. The cable company bought General Electric Co.'s remaining 49% stake in the media company earlier this year. Comcast acquired its initial stake in NBCUniversal in January 2011, and installed Burke, one of its most senior executives, as chief executive of the New York-based media company.

In Friday's regulatory filing, Comcast praised Burke for "outstanding work in integrating NBCUniversal and its businesses into the company (both organizationally and culturally), and making extraordinary progress in improving NBCUniversal’s businesses and results."

Burke has reorganized NBCUniversal's executive ranks and streamlined business units. He oversaw the divestiture of the company's stake in the A&E Television networks and NBCUniversal's acquisition of the 50% stake of the Universal Studios theme park in Orlando that NBCUniversal previously did not own. Now NBCUniversal owns 100% of both the Orlando and Los Angeles theme parks.

Key business units, including the NBC broadcast network and film studio Universal Pictures, have substantially improved their financial performance this year. In the second quarter, NBCUniversal's revenue was up 8.9% to nearly $6 billion. NBCUniversal's improved results pleased Wall Street.

Last year, Burke received compensation valued at $26.3 million, an increase of 11.3% over the year before.

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Originally Posted by dad1153 View Post

TV Sports/Business Notes
Fox Steps Up its Pursuit of Station Acquisitions in NFL Markets
By Rachel Abrams, Variety.com - Aug. 16, 2013

The two stations in Charlotte, N.C. that Fox Television Stations Group gobbled up in January may have only been the appetizer.

The station arm of 21st Century Fox is sniffing around acquisition targets in several major markets, including Seattle, St. Louis and San Francisco. The push is part of a larger strategy to add to its station holdings in NFL markets, particularly markets with NFC teams, the conference for which Fox has a TV rights package. Fox at present has O&Os in 11 of the 16 NFC markets.

Industry sources say Fox is actively looking at stations in the Seattle market. where Tribune owns the existing Fox affiliate, KCPQ-TV. There’s speculation that Fox has its eye on Cox Enterprises-owned KIRO-TV, a CBS affiliate. But sources cautioned that Fox is “turning over a lot of rocks” right now in the market and hasn’t zeroed in on a specific acquisition target.

Seattle-Tacoma is the nation’s 12th-largest TV market. The Seattle Seahawks are seen as an NFL franchise on the rise, which is only fueling Fox’s interest in the market.

The chatter about Fox moving into Seattle has to be some cause for concern at Tribune, as Fox’s affiliation deals typically give the network flexibility to yank the affiliation if the parent company acquires a station in the market. On the other hand, Tribune is about to become the largest outside owner of Fox affiliates in the nation, with 14 outlets, through its pending $2.7 billion acquisition of Local TV Holdings.

Tribune is also poised to own the Fox affil in St. Louis through the Local TV buy. Cox Enterprises also owns the Fox affiliate in the San Francisco market, KTVU-TV.

Fox was quick to yank its affiliation from Bahakal Communications’ WCCB-TV in Charlotte when it bought two stations in the market from Raleigh-based Capital Broadcasting. WCCB had been a Fox affil for 27 years. The move raised eyebrows in the station community and was seen as proof of 21st Century Fox prexy Chase Carey’s determination to add market share in cities with NFL teams. Football rights are not lucrative for local and national advertising sales, but they enhance the station’s bargaining power in retransmission consent negotiations with cable, satellite and telco operators.

In the past two years, TV stations have emerged as attractive acquisition targets again because of the windfall of retransmission consent fees (which Fox blazed the trail for a few years ago) from distribs and ever-increasing political advertising expenditures in key regions.

Fox’s ambition to add stations may be curbed by the FCC’s regulatory limit on station ownership, which bars a single entity from owning stations that cover more than 39% of U.S. TV households (with certain allowances are made for UHF stations). But there’s a groundswell among broadcast heavyweights to fight the FCC’s current station cap as an outmoded regulation given the size and scope of the largest cable operators and satcasters and the broadening of the media landscape in general.

Fox at present owns 28 stations in 18 markets covering nearly 37.28 % of TV homes.

Reps for 21st Century Fox and Tribune declined to comment.

Cynthia Littleton contributed to this report.


The current situation between TWC and CBS shows that the station cap needs to be kept and maybe even toughened up. Look at Sinclair, they own the maximum amount of stations and also "run" stations that they own through shell companies. Look what happens when they get into a dispute. Maybe networks shouldn't own any stations and cable companies shouldn't own any networks. Sadly, Pandora's Box has been opened and the monsters are out of control.
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TV Review
‘In the Meantime' (Up)
Young couple follow a familiar but fun path in uplifting film starring Darrin Dewitt Henson and Kali Hawk
By David Hinckley, New York Daily News - Aug. 17, 2013

"In the Meantime” is everything a warm-hearted Hallmark movie should be, except it’s not on Hallmark.

It’s on Up, a young network that, as its name implies, is aiming to give television viewers an alternative to the dark and troubling dramas that sometimes seem to dominate the small screen.

“In the Meantime” is a romantic story that doesn’t pretend to keep anyone in suspense about where it’s going. It’s counting on viewers instead to enjoy the path it takes to get there.

Jazmin “Jazz” Wells (Kali Hawk) thinks her life is on track. She’s educated, employed and engaged. It’s just that something doesn’t feel right.

Meanwhile, Kwame Davis (Darrin Dewitt Henson) has poured his whole life into his career at a major law firm, where he’s on a partner track.

One of his last challenges in achieving that goal is to grease the way for one of the firm’s clients to buy a local community center and put up a convenience store.

In an effort to make it look like the firm cares about the people the community center serves, he is sent there to help teach an adult literacy class.

His co-instructor is Jazz.

You may now connect the dots.

Happily, the ride to the finish line is engaging. The students, a show in themselves, are dignified and inspiring. They want to qualify for citizenship. They want to read to their grandchildren.

It’s a movie full of good people, and while Up is strongly faith-based, it weaves the spiritual scenes into the characters’ lives rather than lecturing the viewer.

For those who want more feel-good TV, Up is an answered prayer.

Network/Time: Saturday at 7 p.m., Up
Rating: ★★★ (out of five)

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FRIDAY's fast affiliate overnight prime-time ratings -and what they mean- have been posted on Analyst Marc Berman's Media Insight's Blog
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TV Notes
Tina Fey-produced comedy gets series commitment from Fox
By Sandra Gonzalez, Deadline.com - Aug. 16, 2013

A Tina-Fey produced comedy from Universal Television has gotten a series commitment from Fox.

Deadline reports that the move comes after a rumored bidding war between multiple networks for the comedy, which is about a women’s college that begins accepting men. The project does not yet have an official title.

Fey is set to act as co-showrunner with Robert Carlock on the project, which, by definition of “series commitment,” will get a series order if the network and studio like the script, set to be penned by Matt Hubbard. Carlock and Hubbard, who will also act as co-exec producer, are both former 30 Rock producers, writers and frequent collaborators of Fey.

Fox currently has two Universal Television projects on its fall schedule, The Mindy Project, which is going into its second season, and freshman comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which premieres Sept. 17.

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TV Notes
Trayvon Martin's mother talks to 'Meet the Press'
By Hal Boedeker, Orlando Sentinel's 'TV Guy' Blog - Aug. 16, 2013

NBC's "Meet the Press" will explore the issue of whether Trayvon Martin has "become a catalyst for change in the justice system" after a judge referenced the slain teen in a ruling on New York City's "stop and frisk" decision. "Meet the Press" will talk to Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon's mother; family attorney Benjamin Crump; and Ben Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP.

"Meet the Press" starts at 9 a.m. Sunday on WESH-Channel 2. New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly defends the "stop and frisk" policy even though the judge's ruling declares major portions of it unconstitutional.

"We are sensitive to this. Nobody wants to be stopped," Kelly tells David Gregory. "At the very least you're giving up your time. But we need some balance here. The stark reality is that violence is happening disproportionately in minority communities. And that unfortunately is in big cities throughout America. We have record low numbers of murders in New York City, record low numbers of shootings, we're doing something right."

A "Meet the Press" segment on Egypt features NBC's Richard Engel, who is reporting from the country; Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I.; Vali Nasr, dean of Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies; and Robin Wright, senior fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center. A panel on politics brings together NBC's Chuck Tood; Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md.; Rich Lowry, editor of the National Review; and NBC News contributor Robert Gibbs, who was press secretary in the Obama White House.

Also Sunday morning:

Police Commissioner Kelly also talks to ABC's "This Week" at 11 a.m. on WFTV-Channel 9. Other guests are Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.; Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y.; and Reince Priebus, chair of the Republican National Committee. The roundtable panel will be Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard; Bloomberg TV contributor David Plouffe, a former Obama senior adviser; Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn; and Carly Fiorina, chair of Good360 and former CEO and chair of Hewlett-Packard. The program profiles Bill Hamilton, who worked at the White House store for 55 years.

Commissioner Kelly is a guest on CBS' "Face the Nation" at 10:30 a.m. on WKMG-Channel 6. Other guests are Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif.; Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va.; and Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va. A political panel features Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report; Bobby Ghosh of Time magazine; and Republican strategist Kevin Madden.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., talks to "Fox News Sunday" at 10 a.m. on WOFL-Channel 35. Other guests are Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. The panel will be Kimberley Strassel of The Wall Street Journal; Nina Easton of Fortune magazine; former Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio; and former Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind. Bayh and Kucinich are Fox News contributors. The program will salute Natasha Trethewey, the U.S. poet laureate. John Roberts will substitute for moderator Chris Wallace.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., are guests on CNN's "State of the Union" at 9 a.m. and noon. Other guests are Ned Walker, former U.S. ambassador to Egypt, and Jon Alterman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. A political panel brings together Democratic strategist Donna Brazile; Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform; Mo Elleithee of the Democratic National Committee; and Republican strategist Cheri Jacobus.

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Critic's/Nielsen Notes
What Networks Can Learn From Breaking Bad’s Ratings Explosion
By Josef Adalian, Vulture.com (New York Magazine) - Aug. 16, 2013

Sunday's shocking showdown between Breaking Bad's Walt and Hank was followed Monday by something nearly as stunning: News of a massive surge in the show's ratings. Per Nielsen, just under 6 million viewers tuned in for the final season premiere, exactly double the series' previous biggest audience and nearly four times the number of viewers who watched the 2008 series premiere. Almost immediately, in tweets and analyses, journalists who cover television identified Netflix as the reason for the boost: Breaking Bad's ratings have been on a slow upward trajectory, but the biggest gains have come since the series made its Netflix debut in September 2011, allowing viewers to easily, efficiently, and affordably succumb to proselytizing fans and get hooked themselves. To paraphrase Seinfeld, the Netflix effect is real, and it's spectacular … but it's not the only reason for the dramatic rise of Bad: Late surges have happened before, even in the days before TV on demand. It used to happen with the broadcast networks — and still could, if they take the bigger, old-school lesson from AMC about the ever-increasing importance of patience in the world of TV.

Netflix is a factor in the surge, but hardly the only one.

First of all, a little reality check: While Netflix surely played its part in boosting Bad, you can't attribute all, or even most, of its gains to the service. For one thing, cable and satellite video on demand is becoming an increasingly huge factor in catch-up viewing of shows. "We've heard from our [cable operator] partners that VOD has grown exponentially since the end of season five," AMC president Charlie Collier told Vulture. And while sales of TV shows on DVD have been declining, they're still substantial, and Bad remains a big seller. An industry source familiar with the data says Bad DVD collections have seen big gains in the past year, something confirmed by a quick check of Amazon's top 100 DVD purchases. As of Wednesday afternoon, all five seasons were among the top 50 biggest sellers. Digital copies of the show are doing even better: Seasons one and two of the show were both among the top ten best-selling TV seasons on iTunes when we checked. Illegal downloading may also be a factor: TorrentFreak reported that Bad was the fifth most-downloaded U.S. series last year. While many of those stealing Bad may still be doing so, it's also not far-fetched to think some of those thieves went legit for the final season to get it ASAP.

Also, AMC, intent on capitalizing on the pre-finale frenzy of Bad missionaries, has been keenly working to woo new viewers from its own subscriber base of just under 100 million homes (an audience three times as big as Netflix's subscriber count). The network began running overnight mini- and all-day marathons of the series throughout the summer, leading up to the midseason premiere. These marathons generated substantial audiences, particularly the season-five catch-up, which culminated with 2.6 million viewers watching last September's midseason finale: That audience for a repeat was more than almost every live viewer tally for Bad prior to this weekend's massive premiere. Obviously some of those who tuned in for that rerun were existing fans of Walt and Jesse looking to refresh their memories, but they still chose to do so on AMC, not Netflix. "If you were interested in this show, we made sure you had a chance to see it," Collier says.

Slow-mo explosions have happened before in TV.

Ratings researchers Vulture spoke with privately this week admitted they were left slack-jawed by the size of Bad's season-to-season surge. And yet, it is not unprecedented for TV series to pull a Walter White, starting off quiet, unassuming, and almost unnoticed, but ending their runs as icons whose names will live on. Long before DVRs or DVDs, back when tweeting was literally for the birds, Seinfeld took a nearly five-year route to megahit success. For its first four seasons, its ratings weren't even big enough to land in Nielsen's top 30. Only in 1993, when NBC moved Jerry and the gang to Thursdays for Season 5, did Seinfeld become a smash, its audience skyrocketing nearly 45 percent in a single season to nearly 30 million viewers. Yada yada yada, a show whose pilot was seen by just 15 million people on a summer day in 1989 (this considered a dismally low audience back then) would end up quintupling its ratings, attracting just over 76 million viewers for its May 1998 finale.

Likewise, The Sopranos went from an average audience of 2.2 million viewers under 50 during season one to 9.4 million by season four. While CBS's The Big Bang Theory has never really been a "struggling" series, careful nurturing by CBS — plus a huge boost in exposure when TBS started airing repeats on a near-endless loop two years ago — has allowed a show that started off averaging barely 7 million viewers at the end of its first season in 2008 to finally smash through the 20 million viewer barrier earlier this year. And then there's FX's It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which probably comes closest to matching Breaking Bad's tortoise trajectory. It initially attracted under 500,000 viewers in its target demo of adults under 35, and grew slowly each season; even by season four, it was still under 1 million younger viewers. Then, in season five, it jumped nearly 60 percent in the demo, to nearly 1.5 million, and then all the way to 1.7 million under-35s in Sunny's top-rated seventh season, in 2011.

Patience pays.

If there's a through line to all of these examples, it's patience — a notion that the broadcast networks have often seemed to have no patience for. They've tended to have quick triggers when it comes to underperforming shows, even if there's evidence that viewers might not yet have found it. ABC, for example, ultimately paid for nearly 60 episodes of Happy Endings, but then rushed those episodes to viewers in a way that made it all but impossible for audiences to make watching the show a habit. TNT execs expressed much love for Men of a Certain Age, but its 22 episodes were divided into three mini-seasons, and the series never aired more than six consecutive episodes. That's hardly a recipe for building momentum. And while Fox suits are proud of the fact that they gave Ben & Kate a full thirteen episodes to find an audience, that pride misses the point that in today's world, with a new scripted or unscripted series premiering virtually every single week, it's almost inevitable that shows are going to get lost. We no longer live in a world where either being on a Big Four network, or airing behind a network hit, is enough to get viewers' attention.

What Breaking Bad's late-in-life explosion should underscore is that now, more than ever, TV series need to be treated as assets to be nurtured, rather than widgets to be moved around a scheduling grid, easily replaceable by whatever widget comes off the development assembly line next. Viewers can't be expected to heed million-dollar marketing campaigns (see also: this summer's massive movie flops) and immediately tune in when they're told to tune in. Networks (other than CBS) are no longer living in the TV universe of the past, when even their lowest-rated offerings were guaranteed to pull in bigger numbers than cable shows. Now, Breaking Bad gets more viewers than NBC comedies, Duck Dynasty has a bigger audience than just about everything on broadcast TV in the summer, and The Walking Dead tops everything among viewers under 50. Early adopters helped spread the word to make all of those series much bigger hits than their first season ratings suggested, while Netflix and endless repeats gave those shows an ability to have a longer tail. But it's impossible for a show to have a long tail if it's cut down before viewers even know it's around, a process that these days can take years rather than months.

Exercising patience isn't easy of course, particularly at broadcast and cable networks owned by corporations intensely focused on the current financial quarter rather than the long-term. "One of the things that kills patience is short-term financial metrics," Collier admits. "Our job is to balance the creative and business." And even then, patience doesn't always guarantee smashing success. NBC couldn't have been more nurturing of 30 Rock, but show's always modest audience got even smaller over the years. And some series lend themselves to growing audience and increasing viewer excitement more than others, since they boast narrative arcs that make them must-see: Bad is working toward an explosive finish, but nobody really expects Don Draper to blow up the officers of SCDP on Mad Men, a series whose growth has been not nearly as exponential as Breaking Bad. Still, even 30 Rock and Mad Men proved to be assets in other ways, bringing positive buzz or attracting upper-income viewers coveted by advertisers.

All things considered, if a network likes a show, and there's evidence of a tiny-but-passionate audience rallying behind it, it surely makes more sense to keep plugging away — for one, two or even three years — than to just keep repeating the process with more and more widgets in the hope of getting lucky. The good news is that networks finally seem to get that the world's changed. Fox dumped Ben & Kate quickly, but it's making all the right moves with its patient handling of The Mindy Project. And while NBC last year burned off the promising and well-reviewed Bent in fifteen days, it's picked up a second season of Hannibal despite the show's microscopic ratings. As another fall season kicks off next month, perhaps patience will become a rule rather than an exception.

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

7PM - America's Funniest Home Videos
(R - Mar. 24)
8PM - Secret Millionaire
9PM - Whodunnit? (Season Finale)
10PM - Castle
(R - Feb. 18)

7PM - 60 Minutes
8PM - Big Brother SD
9PM - Unforgettable
10PM - The Mentalist
(R - Apr. 14)

7PM - America's Got Talent (120 min.)
(R - Aug. 13)
9PM - Crossing Line
10PM - Crossing Line

7PM - NFL Preseason Football: Indianapolis Colts at New York Giants (LIVE)

(check your local listing for starting time/programming)
8PM - Churchill
(R - Oct. 15, 2003)
9PM - The Lady Vanishes: Masterpiece Mystery! (90 min.)
10:30PM - Architect Michael Graves: A Grand Tour
(R - Mar. 22, 2012)

7PM - Aquí y Ahora
8PM - Parodiando (120 min.)
10PM - Sal y Pimienta

6PM - Movie: The Ant Bully (2006)
8PM - Movie: The Karate Kid (2010)
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TV Review
One Disappears, Another Delves
'The Lady Vanishes’ on PBS
By Mike Hale, The New York Times - Aug. 16, 2013

Is it fair to compare “The Lady Vanishes,” a new “Masterpiece Mystery!” movie on Sunday night, with the Alfred Hitchcock thriller of the same title from 1938? It doesn’t really matter, because if you’ve seen the original, it’s impossible to do otherwise.

Alan Cumming, the host of “Mystery!,” acknowledges this in his introduction. After describing the story’s setting — the Balkans in the 1930s — he grimaces and says: “Yes, you’re right. Hitchcock did it first.”

Remaking “The Lady Vanishes” is particularly bold, or foolhardy, given that the fame of the first film is based almost entirely on the way it was made. Based on “The Wheel Spins,” a novel by Ethel Lina White, it has a good premise — a young woman meets an old woman on a train, the old woman disappears and nearly everyone on the train insists she never existed — and the screenplay by Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder has some witty dialogue. But it’s memorable because of the speed and elegance with which Hitchcock tears through the strained machinations of the plot, using the forward motion of the train — symbolized by those spinning wheels — to represent the barreling progress of his story.

Now, unfortunately, come the comparisons. This new “Lady Vanishes,” directed by Diarmuid Lawrence (“South Riding”) from a screenplay by Fiona Seres, is a perfectly adequate television mystery of the week. But it forgoes the crackling pace, light touch and surprisingly sophisticated sexual banter of the original, opting for melancholy, ominousness and sentimentality. It’s about five minutes shorter than the Hitchcock, but its deliberate pace makes it seem longer. Watching the two in succession is like transferring from the express to a particularly poky, poorly ventilated local. (Another more obscure adaptation, from 1979, starred Cybill Shepherd, Elliott Gould and Angela Lansbury.)

One overall change can’t be argued with too strenuously. The 1938 film is full of broad humor about the inferiority of everything not British, especially in a long opening scene of British travelers stranded in a hotel in a fictional Balkan enclave. Much of this is still funny, and Hitchcock consistently turns the joke against his own countrymen — nearly all of the British characters are irritatingly superior or xenophobic to some degree. But it can be uncomfortable to watch, and the new film takes an opposite tack, looking censoriously at both the young British crowd that includes the heroine Iris (“That horrible rabble,” they’re called) and the older travelers on the train who initially refuse to believe her.

This decision is understandable, but it introduces a primness to the narrative that’s a drag. It also entails dropping one of the best features of the original, the cricket-obsessed duo of Charters and Caldicott, played by Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne. While they embodied the simple-minded spirit of empire that the new film avoids, they were also hilarious, and nothing in this new “Lady Vanishes” takes their place. Their space in the plot is occupied by a new couple, a lugubrious minister and his slightly hysterical wife, who aren’t any fun and who have a secret that only distracts us from the whereabouts of the old lady.

And of course there’s one final difference that must be mentioned. You can’t hold it against the new filmmakers that they couldn’t cast Michael Redgrave as the young man who believes in Iris and helps her solve the mystery. But his absence is felt in every frame — Redgrave, in his film debut, was marvelously charming and witty, and he got to deliver many of Gilliat and Launder’s best lines. (“My father always taught me, never desert a lady in trouble. He even carried that as far as marrying Mother.”) In the current film Tom Hughes, as a besotted young engineer named Max, registers as callow and ineffective.

There are things to recommend the 2013 “Lady Vanishes” — some of the Hungarian locations are nice, Tuppence Middleton is a touching Iris and Selina Cadell makes the vanishing lady more of a human being than May Whitty did in the original. But there aren’t enough to keep a critic from spending most of his time talking about Hitchcock and 1938, or mentioning that the original is available for streaming from Amazon, Hulu, iTunes, Netflix and SnagFilms.

Masterpiece Mystery! The Lady Vanishes
On PBS stations on Sunday night (check local listings).

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Critic's Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - Aug. 18, 2013

AMC, 9:00 p.m. ET

By the time last week’s midseason premiere was televised by AMC, I’d already seen it at least five times. But now, starting with tonight’s episode, I’m as much in the dark as anyone else – and just as excited to see what happens next, to Walt (Bryan Cranston) and to everyone in his path. And don’t forget AMC's Talking Bad at 11 p.m. ET – it may be the fastest half-hour talk show on television.

HBO, 9:00 p.m. ET
You may as well call this episode “There Will be True Blood.” Last week’s episode ended with Lilith’s Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
trio of blood-drenched naked sirens (so that’s what you missed, if you’re not watching) surrounding Bill with plans to end his undead life at last.
But no, Bill’s still around, and out for revenge – and so are many other characters, fanged and unfanged, as another season of True Blood comes to an end. The bottled True Blood is tainted – but with this anything-goes series, taint over till it’s over.

Showtime, 9:00 p.m. ET

An awful lot happened last week between Hannah (Yvonne Strahovski) and Dexter (Michael C. Hall). Girl drugged boy, girl didn’t kill boy, boy found girl, boy didn’t kill girl, boy went to kill girl’s new husband, only to find she beat him to it. So what are the duo up to, or no up to, this week? Tough to say, because Dexter’s already got a young mentor who’s lowering the population at Dexter’s apartment complex – and that can’t be good.

OWN, 9:00 p.m. ET

Is this all Oprah Winfrey is doing with her OWN network these days? Scheduling highly publicized installments of Mea Culpa Theater, booking misbehaving celebrities and expecting them to act contrite and beg for redemption? She did it with Lance Armstrong, which got the most media coverage Oprah has gotten since shutting down her syndicated series – and tonight, she’s doing it with Lindsay Lohan. How long before A-Rod makes Oprah’s A-List?

HBO, 10:00 p.m. ET

Last week on this series, we went through a time jump of another few months, and one of the subplots has Sloan (Olivia Munn) first in denial, then in depression and rage, after an ex-boyfriend embarrasses her by circulating an intimate video of her as an act of breakup revenge. And other stories in the newsroom, professional as well as personal, are just as fraught with emotion and peril these days. And, one presumes, this week.[/size]

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SATURDAY's fast affiliate overnight prime-time ratings -and what they mean- have been posted on Analyst Marc Berman's Media Insight's Blog
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Nielsen Notes (Cable)/TV Sports
English Premier League Soccer Kicks Off With Record For NBC
By The Deadline.com Team - Aug. 18, 2013

This weekend marked the start of English Premier League soccer with fans on both sides of the pond in a football frenzy. In the U.S., NBC Sports Group kicked off its exclusive coverage on Saturday with three live matches: Liverpool v Stoke City and Arsenal v Aston Villa on NBCSN, followed by Swansea City v Manchester United on NBC. The latter face-off gave NBC a .8 overnight rating, the highest ever for a Premier League opening weekend match in the U.S. Combined, the three matches averaged a .5 in the overnights for a 67% increase over last year’s three openers on ESPN and Fox Soccer.

On NBC Sports Live Extra, more than 4 million minutes of action was streamed. In the UK, BT has challenged dominant football broadcaster Sky by acquiring rights to 38 live matches. In its broadcast on Saturday of Liverpool v Stoke, BT Sport averaged 447,000 viewers for a 5.1% share and peaked with 764,000 and a 7.7% share. Later in the day on Sky Sports 1, Swansea v Manchester United was seen by a peak of 3.09M viewers for a 17.4% share. Across Sky Sports 1, Sky2 and Pick TV, the game averaged 2.11M for a 12.5% share.

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TV Review
This Artificial Intelligence Is Ruining My Commute
Malevolent Machines Take Over in ‘Delete,’ on Reelz
By Neil Genzlinger, The New York Times - Aug. 19, 2013

Machines have been proving themselves to be our enemies for years, at least in the science-fiction world. The danged things keep becoming sentient and turning against us. They do it again in “Delete,” a television movie that has its debut on Reelz on Monday night.

In the film, an independent, thinking entity somehow coalesces out of the world’s computers, which of course are all linked thanks to the Web. And this creature is a twisted, havoc-wreaking being because its DNA is formed from the junk found on the Internet.

The movie is pure formula, but if it has been a while since you’ve seen one of these “It’s alive!” films, “Delete” is terrifying in that it underscores just how much the machines will control when fiction someday becomes reality. In addition to messing with missiles and the banking system, this thing is manipulating traffic lights. Crash the global economy if you want, but mucking with our morning commute? We can’t have that.

As is often the case in these movies, it somehow falls to some random kid (Keir Gilchrist) — a geeky one, of course — to stop the cyberinvader. He joins up with a newspaper reporter (Erin Karpluk) and an F.B.I. agent (Ryan Robbins).

While the American government flails away helplessly at the invisible enemy, the three of them go off the grid to try to stop it. Seth Green comes into the film late as a hacker eager to help, livening it up considerably.

The events imagined by the film will almost certainly happen in real life sometime soon. Maybe they already have. As you leave your computer-controlled home and drive to work in your computer-controlled car, late as always, don’t those bothersome traffic lights seem to be staying red a little longer than usual?

Reelz, Monday night at 8, Eastern time; 7, Central time; 5, Pacific time.

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Technology/Business Notes
Tech industry slips into a surprising slump
After a six-year boom ignited by the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, tech firms are in the unusual position of being laggards in the U.S. economy's recovery.
By Chris O'Brien, Los Angeles Times - Aug. 18, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO — In a surprising turn, the tech industry is in a slump even as the U.S. economy picks up steam.

The announcement Thursday that Silicon Valley giant Cisco Systems, which sells networking and telecommunications equipment, plans to cut 4,000 jobs is the latest sign of a slowdown that has sucker-punched high-tech firms.

After a remarkable six-year boom set off by the introduction of the first iPhone in 2007, tech companies of all shapes and sizes are finding growth slowing, and even contracting in some cases.

Though there are still bright spots among companies that help manage data or provide cybersecurity, many of the industry's biggest companies — Microsoft, Google, IBM and Dell — are struggling to figure out the changes in the way businesses and consumers are buying and using technology.

There even have been signs that tech's dysfunction was having a wider effect. When Wal-Mart reported disappointing earnings Thursday, the company's executives pointed the finger at consumer electronics for a lack of exciting new products.

"Our performance was pressured by soft results in both electronics and media and gaming," said William Simon, a Wal-Mart president and executive vice president, on the company's earnings call with analysts.

It's not a bust — not yet at least. And it isn't as serious as the 2000 dot-com crash, when tech's fortunes quickly deteriorated. Indeed, on the ground in Silicon Valley, there is a bit of a disconnect because competition for hiring remains intense.

But in recent months, tech earnings have plummeted as tech companies have reported slower growth or declines. Venture capital has fallen almost 7% this year. Tech mergers and acquisitions have tumbled. And tech stocks have lagged the broader stock market this year. As of early August, the S&P 500 was up 19.68%, but tech stocks in the index were up only 11.1%, one of the lowest-performing categories.

While observers fumble for explanations and many remain optimistic about tech's long-term outlook, the industry is wondering whether this slump is simply a pause or the new normal.

"What I've seen is that a lot of the tech heavyweights are having challenges," said Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy. "There's a fundamental shift in the marketplace that many people are grappling with. What we're seeing is a transitional period."

And tech finds itself in the unusual position of being a laggard in the economy's recovery.

"Technology remains a big drag on earnings growth," Zacks Investment Research analyst Sheraz Mian wrote in a recent report. "The sector's earnings picture is very poor."

Being labeled a "drag" is the ultimate insult for an industry that likes its growth fast and furious. But why has tech lost its mojo?

There doesn't seem to be a single villain.

Mian chalks it up to the lackluster global economy. Tech firms are increasingly dependent on sales and profits abroad, where corporate spending remains weak. In the U.S., others have pointed to the faster-than-expected collapse of PC sales.

"That's having a ripple effect through a lot of sectors of technology," said Greg Harrison, a corporate earnings research analyst at Thomson Reuters.

Companies continue to shift from buying their own hardware and software to renting computing power through cloud-based services in which files are kept at massive data centers in far-flung locations. These save money for buyers but generate less revenue for sellers.

Consumers, meanwhile, appear to be showing signs of fatigue after embracing so many new gadgets in recent years.

PC sales have been devastated by tablets. But now tablets are losing steam, with even Apple reporting a decline in iPad sales in the most recent quarter.

Worldwide tablet shipments fell nearly 10% in the second quarter compared with the first quarter, according to an August study from IDC.

Whatever the reasons for the slowdown, the recent cycle of earnings reports this summer shows how widely the infection is spreading.

Some big tech companies, of course, have had years of trouble, such as BlackBerry, Nokia, Yahoo and Hewlett-Packard. And then there is the buyout saga of Dell, which seems stuck in the PC slow lane in a world speeding by with mobile devices.

But many others who faltered were surprising. In recent weeks, Oracle, Intel, Nvidia and IBM reported poor earnings, with the latter reportedly cutting up to 8,000 jobs.

This summer, earnings disappointed on the same day for Google and Microsoft, which took an ugly write-down of $900 million because of poor sales of its Surface tablet. Apple's growth slowed, though its earnings sent its stock soaring in part because they were not as bad as many had feared.

These earnings blues are not isolated. According to Zacks, profits in the tech sector in the first and second quarters declined from a year earlier 4.5% and 10.6% respectively.

It's a sobering moment for an industry that has just experienced six remarkable years.

The launch of the first iPhone in 2007 accelerated the tech boom and had the kind of effect on consumers and businesses that the dot-com bubble once promised but failed to deliver.

Cloud. Mobile. Social. These three trends combined to make for heady times in Silicon Valley and beyond.

The tech industry's earnings grew from $99.6 billion in 2008 to $182.2 billion last year, according to Zacks. And as the calendar turned, 2013 promised more of the same. Estimates compiled by Thomson Reuters in January projected that tech earnings would grow 7.5% in the second quarter.

Instead, it appears they fell 3.6%, according to Thomson's latest data.

The pinch isn't confined to tech giants. The start-up world is also being squeezed.

In the first half of 2013, venture capitalists invested $12.7 billion, down from $13.6 billion for the same period last year, according to the National Venture Capital Assn. and Thomson Reuters.

Meanwhile, tech companies going public remain rare, and even mergers and acquisitions are struggling. Though there were a handful of large deals in July, the number of tech deals overall fell sharply from the same month a year earlier, from 341 to 240.

After quietly losing momentum for several months, tech's troubles came into wider view last week.

Most alarming was Cisco's announcement that its outlook was much weaker than expected and that it was turning to layoffs.

"This recovery is more mixed and inconsistent than the others I have seen," Cisco Chief Executive John Chambers said in a conference call with analysts. "The environment in terms of our business is improving slightly but nowhere near the pace that we want."

Amid the gathering gloom, tech companies also face a paradox.

While tech's finances suffer, many firms believe that they can't afford to scrimp on research, product development and hiring. Oracle, for instance, is navigating the shift driven by customers from its traditional business of selling hardware, database software and business applications to renting these services through cloud-based services, a sector in which competition is tougher.

"We've been adding a lot of salespeople in the cloud," Oracle CEO Larry Ellison said on a June conference call during which the company reported that revenue for the last year had been essentially flat.

Indeed, competition among rivals such as Google, Apple, Facebook and Samsung is too intense to throttle back on investing in innovation.

"You're not seeing any cutbacks in sales teams or research and development," said Grady Burkett, an analyst at Morningstar. "The competition is too fierce. They have to invest in product development and engineering."

As this technology shift becomes more evolution than revolution, everyone is looking for a catalyst. Something amazing that will ignite the industry's next boom. Wearable gadgets? Internet TV? Robot cars? Google Glass smart eyewear?

In the meantime, some folks in the tech industry wonder how long these companies will maintain their pace of hiring and investment if revenue and profits continue to stumble.

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

8PM - Shark Tank
(R - Apr. 27)
8PM - Castle
(R - Feb. 25)
8PM - Mistresses
* * * *
11:35PM - Jimmy Kimmel Live! (Oprah Winfrey; actor Christopher Mintz-Plasse; The Wanted perform)
(R - Feb. 14)
12:37AM - Nightline

8PM - How I Met Your Mother
(R - Mar. 24)
8:30PM - Mike & Molly
(R - May 14)
9PM - 2 Broke Girls
(R - Dec. 17)
9:30PM - Mike & Molly
(R - Sep. 24)
10PM - Under the Dome
* * * *
11:35PM - Late Show with David Letterman (Olivia Wilde; Dean Norris; John Mayer performs)
12:37AM - The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (Dr. Sanjay Gupta; Gretchen Wilson performs)
(R - Jun. 5)

8PM - America Ninja Warrior
9PM - Get Out Alive With Bear Grylls
10PM - Siberia
* * * *
11:34PM - The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (Ashton Kutcher; Jayma Mays; Hiatus Kaiyote performs)
(R - Jul. 25)
12:36AM - Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (Hugh Jackman; Natasha Lyonne; restaurateur Frank Pellegrino Jr.; Buddy Guy performs with The Roots)
(R - Jul. 24)
1:36AM - Last Call with Carson Daly (Author Lawrence Wright; Delta Rae performs)
(R - Apr. 3)

8PM - Raising Hope
(R - Jan. 22)
8:30PM - Raising Hope
(R - Jan. 29)
9PM - New Girl
(R - Mar. 26)
9:30PM - The Mindy Project
(R - Apr. 9)

(check your local listing for starting time/programming)
8PM - Antiques Roadshow: Washington, DC (R - Jun. 27, 2011)
9PM - Antiques Roadshow: Billing
(R - Apr. 11 2011)
10PM - POV: The Law in These Parts (90 min.)

8PM - Porque el Amor Manda
9PM - La Tempestad
10PM - Qué Bonito Amor

8PM - Hart of Dixie
(R - Feb. 26)
9PM - Breaking Pointe

8PM - Dama y Obrero
9PM - Marido en Alquiler
10PM - Santa Diabla

11PM - The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Liam Hemsworth)
(R - Aug. 6)
11:31PM - The Colbert Report (Kevin Spacey)
(R - Aug. 14, 2013)

11PM - Conan (Don Cheadle; Pete Holmes; RNDM)
(R - May 9)

11PM - Chelsea Lately (Chloë Grace Moretz; Brad Wollack; Arden Myrin; Ross Mathews)
post #89037 of 93667
Critic's Notes
In ‘Studio 60,’ ‘Newsroom,’ How Office Romance Muddled Aaron Sorkin’s Media Critique
By Brian Lowry, Variety.com - Aug. 18, 2013

By happenstance, I recently re-watched the pilot for “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,” which remains one of the more accomplished prototypes I’ve ever seen. In hindsight, though, the progression of that series sowed the seeds for the flaws that have become so maddening and irritating in Aaron Sorkin’s latest media-related workplace enterprise, “The Newsroom.”

Call it how Aaron Sorkin found love, and undermined the loftier qualities that made some of his earlier works – most notably “The West Wing” – soar and sing.

Although preachy in places (it’s Sorkin, after all), that “Studio 60” pilot really has it all. Exceptionally smart rat-a-tat banter, pointed insights about television, well-developed characters and meticulous casting down to even the smallish roles.

Built around a fictional sketch comedy a la “Saturday Night Live,” the program began stumbling in the later episodes, when it seemed more preoccupied with intramural romance than the meatier issues the pilot addressed. In “West Wing,” the flirty exchanges seldom deviated too far from a higher mission and greater love – namely, of public service. By the time Bradley Whitford’s producer/director in “Studio 60″ started swapping meaningful stares with network exec Amanda Peet, the show had pretty much written itself into a corner that made its cancellation a lot easier to swallow.

Sorkin brings some of the same high-minded ideals to his latest offering about a fictional cable-news program, “The Newsroom” – that television, and specifically TV news, can and should do better – but almost from the get-go got mired in moony love affairs and dysfunctional relationships that turn ostensibly intelligent people into blithering dolts.

It’s an amusing conceit in the context of a romantic comedy or musical (a genre for which the producer has stated his abiding fondness), but it can be deadly in a series if it’s not calibrated and cast just right.

That’s a real shame, since the best parts of the “Newsroom” invariably leave you hungry for more, if only because there’s so little on TV that explores this terrain in any significant way. In the next two episodes (which HBO has made available), that includes a pretty devastating look at the inanity of morning news and a deeper plunge into the question of how a news organization can lose its way in the headlong rush to land a major scoop.

As always, Sorkin has a lot to get off his chest, and he’s not above veering outside his lane, as it were, in order to vent about that which annoys him. Yet while that should be the garnish to his work, in “The Newsroom” it’s become the whole enchilada – or at least, the highlight of a show where virtually every workplace relationship is complicated by raging, high-school-level hormones. (The prosecutorial bent of the attorney played by Marcia Gay Harden is actually problematic in this regard, in an extremely meta way, since she frequently takes the ACN staff to task for the very things driving many of its viewers crazy.)

Seemingly, those who have stuck with “The Newsroom” fall into two camps — having either chosen to look past its flaws, or embracing them as a source of derision (hence the term “hate watch”), a la the Slate feature aptly titled “Trying to Tolerate The Newsroom.”

The first group is too generous, and the latter has become mean spirited in a way that reinforces Sorkin’s complaint — through Jeff Daniels’ Will McAvoy character — about a media culture where “Snark is the idiot’s version of wit, and we’re being polluted by it.”

Personally, it’s been tough to get past the central flashback device, which continues to foster a nagging sense of we-told-you-so smugness. The benefit of hindsight is also useful in building up such obvious straw men to knock over they might as well be singing ”If I only had a brain.”

Still, the occasional line that seems so unerringly true only makes it that much more aggravating when the next moment rings hollow, feeding a view of the series that dovetails with Sorkin’s own critique of TV news — namely, that we not only want “The Newsroom” to be better, but in a way need it to be.

So sure, the series has unleashed plenty of snark on the order of what Sorkin is railing against. But one doesn’t have to be snarky to watch and lament what “The Newsroom” is, or isn’t.

Nope. Just disappointed.

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TV-on-DVD Notes
Vintage Late-Night 'Fridays' Gets New Life
By Eric Gould, TVWorthWatching.com - Aug. 18, 2013

In one fourth-wall breaking sketch from the 1980-82 ABC late-night sketch-comedy series Fridays, a youthful Michael Richards, decades before his glory as Kramer on Seinfeld, leans into the camera and explains to the audience, "Television sucks."

And in that sketch over 30 years ago, the comment had some legs, despite obvious gems of the day, such as St. Elsewhere and Hill Street Blues. It's hard to remember, with today's big, flat panel displays filled with great content like Mad Men and Orange is the New Black, that worthwhile stuff wasn't so available, or so routine.

Such experimenting with, and commenting on, TV's boundaries was what Fridays was all about — and what the sketch comedy show can be remembered for. (It certainly won't be for the pornstaches and mullets flown by many of the men shown in the live studio audiences.)

The bad-boy, Saturday Night Live-styled Fridays was launched when ABC saw the late-night money to be made from the young audiences gathered around the NBC original, only five years along at the time. Fridays lasted only two seasons, getting pushed out of its 11:30 slot by a Friday edition of Nightline in its second year. Shortly after, it was cancelled by ABC, in part because of complaining network affiliates in conservative markets flummoxed by the show's brash humor aimed at teens and twentysomethings — absurd bits about zombie diners, Muppets being bludgeoned for pelts, and blow-up nun dolls.

Looking back on the Shout! collection, entitled The Best of Fridays (sixteen 90-minute shows, edited down to 60 minutes each, on 4 DVDs) there are still reasons to watch, and notice. While the show suffered under the weight of such SNL copycat features as a fake news segment, it arguably beat the NBC original at its game at times, most notably when Andy Kaufman dropped out of a sketch on live air, refusing to continue and finally throwing a glass of water in Richards' face. (That sketch is included in the Best Of and was reenacted in the Kaufman biopic Man On the Moon in 1999.)

The scandal was hot news at the time, with ABC and Fridays producer John Moffit hinting it was staged. Kaufman returned the following week to apologize and also cop to the stunt, but then immediately resumed the prank, shouting and insisting the whole thing was real. At the time, that clouded any real resolution. For the DVD, Moffit unequivocally says, yes, the whole thing was by design.

Fridays launched Richards' career, particularly for his recurring "Battleboy" character, a bizarre, manic kid left to his own make-believe world of plastic army men, which he destroys to the sound effects of his own blood-curdling screams.

The late-night series also established Larry David in his misanthropic pose, and gave Larry Charles his first comedy writing gig. Charles would go on to write and direct for David and Jerry Seinfeld on Seinfeld, David's Curb Your Enthusiasm, and for Sacha Baron Cohen in Borat.

The DVD reprises Fridays commitment to cutting-edge bands like Devo and The Clash (The Clash are shown in their first-ever U.S. appearance), as well as eye-opening moments worth revisiting. "Women Who Spit," done by Maryedith Burrell, Brandis Kemp and Melanie Chartoff, features a panel discussion by three otherwise well-mannered women who decide to take up spitting as another way of gaining equal ground with men.

There's also the macabre yet hilarious "A Chicken's Life," Bruce Mahler's bit about a lonely, down-and-out pianist who does opera with a formally dressed chicken taken out of the refrigerator.

"Women Who Spit" was reportedly one of the early sketches that started tipping the scales against the show with ABC affiliates. That's discussed on the bonus CD in a writers and performers reunion.

Conspicuously, the one missing cast member for that reunion is David. With the Shout! DVD, Fridays can now rightfully join SCTV, Monty Python, In Living Color, Chappelle's Show and MTV's The State as one of the worthwhile, daring moments in youth-oriented sketch-comedy TV. It would have been fitting to have had David — one of today's kings and one of the Fridays pioneers — along to help place Fridays up on the shelf alongside its ground-breaking comedy cousins.

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TV Review
‘The Life of Muhammad’
PBS exploration looks at the origins of a prophet and how his lessons are interpreted today
By David Hinckley, New York Daily News - Aug. 19, 2013

PBS' New biography of Muhammad could be subtitled “Islam 101,” and it serves well its intended purpose: going step-by-step to tell about a man and a religion many non-Muslims only think they understand.

Journalist Rageh Omaar hosts the three-hour production, which traces the life, work and words of Muhammad as they seeded the growth and philosophy of Islam.

Born around 570 A.D. into a life of dire poverty, Muhammad grew up in a harsh Arabia populated by dozens of tribes fighting for a share of its scarce resources.

Around the time he turned 40, he started hearing messages from Allah — that men should never lie, for instance, and should live in peace and submit themselves wholly to Allah. He spread these messages by preaching to others.

While there are similarities here to Jesus, Muhammad has always been regarded in a different way by Muslims.

He was a mortal, not the Lord’s son. He was a messenger, the portal through which Allah’s words, which became the Koran, were delivered to the world. That’s why we don’t see images of Muhammad, lest anyone mistakenly worship him rather than Allah.

What may capture the most attention is the show’s closing hour, which examines the complex roots of “jihad.”

Like elements of many religions, “jihad” has spawned multiple interpretations, some aggressive and some contemplative. Seeing how the concept developed in Muhammad’s own life, which included both war and peace, provides valuable context.

“Life of Muhammad” won’t spark instant conciliation. If it helps with greater understanding, it has done its job.

Network/Time: Tuesday at 8 p.m., PBS
Rating: ★★★★ (out of five)

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TV Sports/Critic's Notes
Fox Sports 1 Has Launched. OK, Now What?
By Tim Goodman, The Hollywood Reporter's 'Bastard Machine' Blog - Aug. 18, 2013

You may have heard that a giant media and entertainment conglomerate started a new sports channel and then decided entirely on your own if that was important or not to your daily lives. I'm only here to tell you that the lights did go on over at Fox Sports 1, the cameras remained in focus, there were only a few glitches (unless, for some reason, seeming to leave the cameras on between commercial breaks while the hosts talk is a thing -- and if it's a thing, it's gimmicky).

Less than two days is no timeframe to judge Fox Sports 1. Hell, a couple of its signature shows -- including Fox Football Daily and Crowd Goes Wild with Regis Philbin and a cadre of people who are not as overtly famous has him but perhaps a bit more sporty -- don't even air until Monday. Consider this weekend like the "soft launch" of a restaurant.

"We are here to change the game" is one of the slogans Fox Sports 1 is using, even though it's mostly copying what has come before it, which in turn was a copy of what came before that, so nobody's really changing anything. It's just more ... more ... something. Like the same thing. Because that's also what the world seems to want.

It's unlikely that Fox Sports 1 is going to rival ESPN anytime soon and the new kid is wise enough to essentially be saying that very thing. Taking down the king isn't really the goal here -- it's just to be in the game and make a bunch of money while doing it. There's the corporate family tree of Disney/ABC/ESPN, plus CBS Sports Network, NBC Sports Network (soon to be NBCSN) and now Fox Sports 1 (and Fox Sports 2, like ESPN2, if you're scoring at home -- a wink there to Ye Olde School version of SportsCenter and an idea that changed the landscape).

OK, so all the big media players have their own massive sports channels to play with and each has at least some slice of the live-sports pie, with Fox Sports 1 kicking things off with UFC battles this weekend, though it will also have some Major League Baseball, college football and basketball, NASCAR and soccer.

Mostly this weekend Fox Sports 1 had the unveiling of its nightly sports highlights show called Fox Sports Live, hosted by the likable Canadian anchor duo of Jay Onrait and Dan O'Toole, who did their thing without trying to do their thing with too much look-at-us shenanigans, probably because they know that virtually every anchor duo since Keith Olbermann and Dan Patrick have been trying to be Olbermann and Patrick with very mixed results. I like that Fox Sports 1 has brought in Onrait and O'Toole without recycling some weekend anchors from, say, ESPN.

It's very hard to reinvent something that was a copy already, but Fox Sports 1 would likely be called lazy for not trying, so it's trying. The Fox Sports Live show has, well, a lot of segments. You get highlights, then a toss over to some in-studio banter and then back again. And then back and forth again. The panelists change, but the volleying back and forth -- which can get tiresome if what you really want, say, a bunch of highlights in a row -- doesn't. Meaning you might get former MLB player Gabe Kapler sitting down with tennis player Andy Roddick and former NFL players Donovan McNabb and Ephraim Salaam, with Fox Sports 1 host Charissa Thompson moderating. Then back to Onrait and O'Toole, back for another segment, this time with former NBA player Gary Payton subbing in for Kapler, etc.

It's a bit gimmicky. But it's also not against the law to have a ton of segments, highlight packages and panels because -- wait for it -- that is the very definition of what an American sports program looks like. In Europe, they tend to actually show the sports and cut way, way back on the talking heads, but even that more preferable model is giving way to what we do (to death) here in the States.

Ultimately, what is there to say about Fox Sports 1 (and not with the small sample size modifier) other than it looks good in HD, has a lot of bells and whistles and looks pretty much like every other sports channel? Meaning, even though I would never, ever go looking to watch Regis Philbin host Crowd Goes Wild on purpose, neither do I go seeking Around the Horn on ESPN. So, every outlet will have its high and low points. And since Fox Sports 1 nestles close to NBC Sports Network and CBS Sports Network on my DirecTV channel lineup, no doubt I'll watch it periodically.

But I long ago gave up on ESPN (as have lots of other people, though that hasn't sunk "the sports leader" at all), and have moved on to sport-specific channels for my highlights. I would think most serious sports fans do this already. The MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, tennis and golf, etc., all have their own channels providing far more sport-specific highlights and with greater saturation. The benefit of more content out there on the bandwidth is more opportunity to flee from, say, ESPN. However, the vast majority of American sports fans seem content to go with what they know -- and that's a catch-all outlet like ESPN or maybe now Fox Sports 1. Fans have grown up on sports coverage in this country taking place in a studio with multiple talking heads. (Even the previously named sport-specific channels fall prey to this structure, for the most part.)

Of course, Fox Sports 1 is touting its new nightly live offering this way: "The news and highlights show fans have been waiting for." Have they really? Of course not.

So, expecting some kind of revolution from Fox Sports 1 wasn't even part of the deal in this initial sneak peek. And the new channel didn't let me down by offering up something I'd never seen before. So, welcome to the crowded field, Fox Sports 1. You blend in well.

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