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Hot Off The Press: The Latest TV News and Information - Page 2972

post #89131 of 93675
Originally Posted by Fastslappy View Post

as bad as the coming "Sound Of Music " remake for TV ? tongue.gif
It's not exactly a remake. It will a live production of the original Broadway musical. Whole different thing....
post #89132 of 93675
Originally Posted by Fastslappy View Post

as bad as the coming "Sound Of Music " remake for TV ? tongue.gif
Didn't they already remake it for TV some time back - like in the 90's?
post #89133 of 93675
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 - Apt. 18)
8PM - Family Dance Off (Series Premiere)
9PM - Secret Millionaire (Time Slot Premiere)
10PM - Castle
(R - Mar. 25)

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

7PM - Madden NFL 14 Pigskin Pro-Am
8PM - NFL Preseason Football: Minnesota Vikings at San Francisco 49ers (LIVE)

7PM - American Dad
(R - Apr. 14)
7:30PM - The Simpsons
(R - Jan. 27)
8PM - The Simpsons
(R - May 19)
8:30PM - Bob's Burgers
(R - Mar. 24)
9PM - Family Guy
(R - Nov. 25)
9:30PM - Family Guy
(R - Dec. 9)

(check your local listing for starting time/programming)
8PM - Churchill: The Lion's Roar
(R - Oct. 15, 2003)
9PM - Masterpiece Mystery! Silk (120 min.)

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

6:30PM - Movie: Salt (2010)
8:30PM - Movie - The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009)
post #89134 of 93675
TV Review
‘Silk,’ somewhat shy of a masterpiece
New PBS series lacks the heft of so many 'Masterpiece' dramas
By Tom Conroy, Media Life Magazine

British TV shows have two advantages when they’re shown over here: As has been frequently noted, those accents make anything — whether a stupid comedy or a standard detective series — sound smarter.

But they also have a halo effect that dates back to the 1970s, when PBS’s “Masterpiece Theatre” began cherry-picking such excellent series as “Upstairs, Downstairs” and “I, Claudius.” Even now, a British series comes with the presumption of quality.

We American viewers therefore sometimes have a hard time realizing that a U.K. import is merely above average, especially when it’s airing on “Masterpiece,” as the PBS series is now called. But that’s the case with the latest “Masterpiece” offering, “Silk.”

Premiering this Sunday, Aug. 25, at 9 p.m. (check local listings), the series is merely a well-acted, well-scripted legal drama that blends courtroom strategy and office politics much as “L.A. Law” did in its heyday. It’s entertaining, but viewers expecting the usual payoffs of “Masterpiece” — an unforgettable main character, a compelling take on big-picture issues, a cunning mystery or a bleak vision of the human soul — will be a little disappointed.

Airing in three installments of two hours each, the six episodes have no main story line other than the candidacy of the main character, a London barrister named Martha Costello (Maxine Peake), to “take silk.” This means that she will receive the honorary but important title of queen’s counsel, which will entitle her to wear silk robes in court.

Viewers will soon learn that courtroom attire isn’t the only thing differentiating the British and American legal systems. Barristers belong to chambers, which are loose partnerships run by clerks, who are not lawyers themselves. Barristers receive their cases from solicitors. “Silk” makes it seem that sometimes a barrister barely reads the solicitor’s file before starting to argue the case in court.

Members of the same chamber not only sometimes represent different defendants in the same case; they can even serve as opposing prosecutor and defense attorney. This certainly heightens dramatic possibilities.

In the first episode, Martha is sandbagged in the courtroom by her chief rival in her chamber, Clive Reader (Rupert Penry-Jones), who is representing a co-defendant. Clive is also in the running to take silk.

The series is more episodic than is currently fashionable. Although two defendants come back in separate cases, most of Martha’s trials begin and end within an hour. Martha’s skill in court is fun to watch, but we never get the feeling that the writer — Peter Moffat — is a master of courtroom drama.

In one case, we’re supposed to believe that a murder defendant who is claiming self-defense has never mentioned that the victim came at him with a golf club. This omission conveniently helps Martha shine in court.

Another client lurks creepily around the edges of all six episodes, only to serve as a diabolus ex machina in the season finale. Compared with the many memorable chief villains in British dramas, he’s a disappointment.

Although we learn that only a small percentage of “silks” are women, the series plays down the feminist angle. Martha comes across as a familiar TV type: a gifted workaholic with little time for a personal life. As often happens with that TV type, we soon see her staring unhappily at a pregnancy test.

Perhaps because of her familiarity, Martha doesn’t linger in our mind the way, say, Inspectors Morse or Jane Tennison do.

The chamber’s senior clerk, Billy Lamb (Neil Stuke), who technically works for the barristers, actually rules the roost. His machinations are intriguing, but they fail to build to a satisfying climax.

Two ambitious young “pupils,” the beautiful and socially connected Niamh Cranitch (Natalie Dormer) and the attractively scruffy Nick Slade (Tom Hughes), have their own subplots and cases. Like Billy, these characters have potential that might be realized in the next season, which has already aired in Britain.

American viewers could have a perfectly fine time watching this season but probably won’t be panting in anticipation for the next. Like its namesake fabric, “Silk” is smooth but lightweight.

post #89135 of 93675
TV Notes
Colin Powell, Rep. John Lewis reflect on I Have a Dream
By Hal Boedeker, Orlando Sentinel's 'Live Feed' Blog - Aug. 23, 2013

The 50th anniversary of 1963's March on Washington will be a major topic on Sunday morning programs. The lineup:

CBS' "Face the Nation" talks to former Secretary of State Colin Powell and Rep. John Lewis, who spoke at the march, at 10:30 a.m. on WKMG-Channel 6. Other guests include Taylor Branch, author of "The King Years"; Marion Wright Edelman, president of the Children's Defense Fund; and Benjamin Jealous, president of the NAACP. Other guests are David Rohde of Reuters; Margaret Brennan of CBS News; Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I.; and Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas.

Rep. Lewis, Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal are guests on NBC's "Meet the Press" at 9 a.m. on WESH-Channel 2. There will be a panel with Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho; Sheryl WuDunn, author and journalist; the Rev. Al Sharpton of MSNBC; David Brooks of The New York Times; and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. A rebroadcast of a 1963 "Meet the Press" with Martin Luther King Jr. follows at 10 a.m.

Rep. Lewis will be a guest on CNN's "State of the Union" at 9 a.m. and noon. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, discusses Egypt and Obamacare. Former Gov. Howard Dean, D-Vt., and former Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., talk about Obamacare and politics. A political panel features Democratic strategist Cornell Belcher; Ross Douthat of The New York Times; Carly Fiorina, chair of Good360; and Neera Tanden, president & CEO of the Center for American Progress.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., discuss developments in the Mideast on "Fox News Sunday" at 10 a.m. on WOFL-Channel 35. Gov. Mary Fallin, R-Okla., and Jason Hicks, district attorney of Stephens County in Oklahoma discuss the fatal shooting of an Australian athlete in their state. The panel will be Juan Williams, Kirsten Powers of The Daily Beast, Fox News contributor David Webb and former Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass. The program will salute Capt. Jack Norton of the USMC.

post #89136 of 93675
TV Notes
HBO's 'Newsroom': Aaron Sorkin Brings It Home
By Davind Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com

If you stopped, or never started, watching Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom, pick it up now. Sunday’s upcoming episode on HBO (10 p.m. ET) is as crisp and clever as vintage The West Wing…

A year ago, the inaugural season of The Newsroom polarized critics and viewers, many of whom were highly critical of what they perceived as overt lecturing by Sorkin and a juvenile rendering of romantic relationships among characters working at the show’s fictional ACN cable news network.

This year, whether by design or coincidence, Sorkin reacted by reducing the emphasis given to mushy lovelorn subplots, and doubling down on the drama by devoting the entire season to a single story – a story which, after investigating for months, ACN televised, and got wrong.

That story, reporting the use of the chemical weapon sarin by the U.S. military during a dangerous and time-sensitive extraction mission, has been the subject of The Newsroom all of the current Season 2. It’s been told partly in flashbacks, and partly in the near present, as a legal team hired by ACN – led by Rebecca Halliday, played by a fiercely focused Marcia Gay Harden (right) – probes the news crew’s staffers in preparation for a coming lawsuit.

That mission, Operation Genoa, has become clearer in this month’s episodes, as have the network’s problems in reporting it. Last Sunday’s episode revealed, finally, that a newly hired producer (played by Hamish Linklater, seen in a much goofier role as the brother in The New Adventures of Old Christine) had fudged and edited the raw footage to make an interview subject (a retired Marine general played by Stephen Root, another sitcom veteran, in this case from Newsradio) appear to say something he hadn’t.

This Sunday’s episode (10 p.m. ET), finally and fabulously, is all business, with none of the romantic or polemic excesses – and it’s highly charged and excitingly performed, building to a climax that ranks among his very best. And when Sorkin is at his very best, few do it better.

Sunday’s show is the payoff for everything The Newsroom has constructed to date. Usually, what’s idealized about the TV journalists and producers on this show is what they do on air, in their nightly cable newscast. But here, it’s what they do off-air – the due diligence in checking, triple-checking, a story before putting it on the air, and even then getting it wrong.

At long last, we find out exactly how, and why, they messed up. Sunday’s episode is Sorkin’s slam-dunk – and just when you think it can’t get any better, Jane Fonda, as network owner Leona Lansing, comes in for the last five minutes to stick the landing. In one rousing scene, Fonda has earned a spot at next year’s Emmy nominations.

What she, as Leona, demands of Jeff Daniels’ ACN anchor Will McAvoy and Sam Waterston’s news executive Charlie Skinner, The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin already has accomplished with this week’s installment.

To catch up, HBO subscribers can watch previous episodes on HBO Go, or catch this week’s scheduled repeat telecasts. The most recent episode of The Newsroom is repeated on HBO tonight (Wednesday) at 9 ET, Thursday at 8 p.m. ET, and Saturday at 10:15 p.m. ET. And on Thursday, HBO Signature repeats the three most recent episodes, beginning at 9 p.m. ET.

However you get up to speed, this Sunday’s episode, “Red Team III,” will reward the effort.

post #89137 of 93675
Part 1 of 3.

TV Sports/Business Notes
College Football’s Most Dominant Player? It’s ESPN
By James Andrew Miller, Steve Eder and Richard Sandomir, The New York Times - Aug. 25, 2013

The nation’s annual rite of mayhem and pageantry known as the college football season begins this week, and Saturday will feature back-to-back-to-back marquee matchups.

At the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, last year’s national champions, the Alabama Crimson Tide, will battle the Virginia Tech Hokies in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic.

Earlier in the day in Houston, Oklahoma State will play Mississippi State in the Texas Kickoff Classic. And that night in Arlington, Tex., Louisiana State and Texas Christian will face off in the Cowboys Classic.

The games will not just be televised by ESPN. They are creations of ESPN — demonstrations of the sports network’s power over college football.

The teams were not even on each other’s schedules until ESPN, looking to orchestrate early-season excitement and ratings, went to work. The 2013 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic came together more than two years ago when one of the network’s programming czars noticed that Alabama was not scheduled to play this Labor Day weekend, brought the Tide on board and found a worthy opponent.

Far beyond televising games, ESPN has become the chief impresario of college football. By infusing the sport with billions of dollars it pays for television rights — more than $10 billion on college football in the last five years alone — ESPN has become both puppet-master and kingmaker, arranging games, setting schedules and bestowing the gift of nationwide exposure on its chosen universities, players and coaches.

The money and programming focused on college football by ESPN, as well as its competitors, have transformed the game, creating professionalized sports empires in the midst of academic institutions.

At a time of rising tuition and fiscal struggles, the millions of dollars that flow to the top athletic departments are, with few exceptions, used to enhance athletics, not academics. Celebrity coaches earn many times more than college presidents, and even teams at financially strained public universities train in lavish facilities financed by donors and corporate sponsors.

In the chase for money and exposure, college football, once a quaint drama of regional rivalries played out on autumn Saturday afternoons, has become a national sport played throughout the week, intruding on class schedules and even on exams.

“The growth of the exposure to college football is directly related to ESPN’s increased involvement in it,” said Bernie Machen, the president of the University of Florida, which won two national championships in recent years.

ESPN is not the only network that exerts control over the scheduling, programming and financing of college football. But it is the undisputed leader, given its size, reach and single focus on sports. This season, ESPN channels will televise about 450 college games. ESPN’s closest competitor, Fox, will show 50 on various networks.

ESPN and the universities often call each other business partners, and that partnership has been enormously rewarding for both sides. For the colleges, beyond money for athletic departments, the partnership provides exposure that college officials say increases recruiting prowess, alumni donations and even the quality of applicants. For ESPN, college football feeds a voracious need for the kind of programming that makes the network indispensable to sports fans.

“With college sports, you have enormous volume, great quality, and there is unbelievable passion with the fans,” John Skipper, ESPN’s president, said.

Sometimes, ESPN’s business relationships can run up against its role reporting on those same partners in the sports world. Last week, after ESPN abruptly bowed out of a collaboration with the PBS program “Frontline” examining concussions in the National Football League, The New York Times reported that the decision was made after top ESPN executives came under pressure from the league.

The extent of ESPN’s influence over college football is literally displayed on the face of your ticket to next week’s game. Tickets to most games are printed with the date and the opponent’s name, but something is missing: the kickoff time. That is because ESPN, under its contracts with conferences, has the right to set kickoff times and wait until 12 days before game day, or in some cases only six, to inform universities.

Every Monday morning during the season, ESPN’s football brain trust meets in a war room in Building 12 on the network’s sprawling campus in Bristol, Conn., to consider options for coming games and make sure the hottest teams get the choicest time slots on each of its channels. After decisions are made, calls go out across the country, setting off a scramble on dozens of campuses as universities arrange everything from parking to security to team transportation.

ESPN’s contracts have increasingly allowed it to go, as its executives like to say, “beyond the white lines,” putting microphones on coaches and getting access to team practices and locker rooms.

The network’s wall-to-wall coverage before, during and after games can significantly lift the profiles of colleges and nurture heroes and celebrities. In interviews, people involved in recruiting coaches said the telegenic qualities of candidates factored into hiring decisions. Similarly, Eric Hyman, the athletic director at Texas A&M, said his university’s move from the Big 12 to the Southeastern Conference, which has a closer relationship with ESPN, paid big benefits, particularly for one player: quarterback Johnny Manziel, a k a Johnny Football, the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy.

“If we were in the Big 12, I don’t know that Johnny Manziel would have won the Heisman,” Mr. Hyman said.

ESPN, of course, is about much more than college football. It is everything sports, all the time — from the National Football League to the national spelling bee. But from ESPN’s early days, its executives looked at college football, with its iconic place in American culture, and saw opportunity.

Before the mid-1980s, televised college football amounted to little more than one national game a week, along with a few regional telecasts, all controlled by the N.C.A.A. Then a Supreme Court antitrust ruling freed universities and conferences to negotiate their own TV deals.

At the time, ESPN was a fledgling cable network without the money to compete with the broadcast giants for important games. But it had seemingly endless hours to fill with sports programming. ESPN executives persuaded lower-profile universities to deviate from traditional Saturday schedules, and Thursday night college football was born. Then Friday night. Then even Tuesday.

But what made ESPN such a force in college football was its growing role in the professional game.

Like most cable networks, ESPN draws revenue from two sources: advertising and subscriber fees. When it struck a deal with the N.F.L. in the late 1990s to carry a full season of games, that revenue stream became an ever-quickening cascade of cash. N.F.L. games, probably the most valuable commodity in televised sports, became the leverage that allowed ESPN to demand more money from cable companies, with fees nearly quadrupling in one seven-year period.

Today, nearly 100 million households pay about $5.54 a month for ESPN, regardless of whether the subscribers watch it or not, whether they realize it or not. This year, ESPN will take in more than $6 billion in subscriber fees.

The network’s revenue is such a boon to its parent company, Disney, that the former Disney chief executive Michael Eisner said in an interview: “To this day, the Walt Disney Company would not exist without ESPN. The protection of Mickey Mouse is ESPN.”

Flush with those cable fees, ESPN has gone on one of the biggest shopping sprees in TV history, securing the rights to prime college football for the next decade and more. It spent $2.2 billion for SEC rights through the 2023-24 season and in May announced a 20-year agreement with the SEC that will include building the conference’s own television network. In a 12-year, $7.3 billion deal, ESPN gained the rights to the college football playoff, which begins after the 2014 regular season.

The power of television contracts has driven the recent fever of conference switching, as colleges forsake geographic loyalties in pursuit of more lucrative deals. In the last year, three universities jumped to the Atlantic Coast Conference for all sports: Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Louisville, none of them located within 200 miles of the Atlantic coast. Each stands to receive more than $16 million a year from the A.C.C.’s $3.6 billion contract with ESPN.

In the world of big-time college sports, universities like these are the winners. But there are colleges on the losing end, too — those stuck in conferences whose value is diminished by realignment, those that simply lack the resources to build teams good enough to break into the exposure game.

David Schmidly has watched what he calls the “massive increase in commercialization” of college sports as the president of several universities, most recently New Mexico, a public college with a respected men’s basketball program but a mere trickle of television dollars. As he sees it, the escalating television deals, especially at a time when states are slashing subsidies to public universities, have only widened the gap between the haves and the have-nots — between a “group of super-wealthy institutions and those that are trying to gnaw at the wood of the doors to get in.”

Shaping the Schedule

One of the most powerful people in the business of college football is a boyish, unassuming graduate of the University of Southern California named Ilan Ben-Hanan. His title is vice president for programming and acquisitions for college football at ESPN. What he really is, though, is the network’s master scheduler.

Wherever he is, at whatever time of year, Mr. Ben-Hanan, 35, will be carrying a 15-page spreadsheet on legal-size paper, a continually evolving master list of matchups and game sites for every week of the season. Much of the schedule, of course, is determined by the colleges and conferences themselves. What’s more, ESPN’s contracts with conferences contain a variety of scheduling stipulations. Even so, the billions of dollars that ESPN pays for TV rights allow it, in some cases, to decide what time games are played and to have a say in who plays whom and when.

Mr. Ben-Hanan’s mission, which embodies one of the central alchemies of ESPN, is to take all that information, what is set in stone and what is not, and create on-screen events as the season approaches and then unspools, week after week.

In Mr. Ben-Hanan’s world, every day of the football schedule is another opportunity to create maximum “buzz and heat.”

In December, he went looking for a game to showcase nationally in prime time on Nov. 7, 2013, a Thursday nearly a year in the future. He trained his sights on the Pacific-12, one of the nation’s major conferences, and saw that conference rules required one of the hot teams of the moment, Stanford, to host a Thursday or Friday night game in 2013. From a list of Stanford’s potential conference opponents, Mr. Ben-Hanan chose Oregon, which was headed to its fourth consecutive appearance in a Bowl Championship Series game.

The result is what Mr. Ben-Hanan, with only a slightly proprietary claim to prognostication, calls the “Pac-12 game of the year.” The game will also come two days before L.S.U. plays Alabama, turning the weekend into a prospective hot zone on the football calendar. “It will be an opportunity for a game like that to shine,” he said.

Using much the same logic, ESPN dived into Deep South tradition to persuade Mississippi and Mississippi State to reschedule this year’s edition of their annual meeting, known as the Battle for the Golden Egg.

From 1998 to 2003, the game was televised by ESPN on Thanksgiving, but since 2004, it has been played on the Friday or Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Last fall, ESPN’s schedulers realized they needed a high-impact game for Thanksgiving night. They also knew they could persuade Mississippi, Mississippi State and the SEC with an enticing pitch: if the game returned to Thursday, it would not be lost in the glut of big rivalries on Thanksgiving Saturday.

“You’ll have a window to yourselves and focus much more of a spotlight on it,” Mr. Ben-Hanan told them.

ESPN’s manipulations come into finer focus as the season progresses and teams rise or fall in the rankings.

The network’s right to wait until as few as six days in advance before announcing which games it will show, and at what times, encompasses all but the first three weeks of the season, when game times are set far in advance. At the Monday morning meetings in Building 12, executives also apportion the games among the network’s channels: ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and even the online platform ESPN3.

A look back at the waning days of last season shows how ESPN uses its last-minute control.

Going into the weekend of Nov. 17, with berths in the national championship game potentially at stake, the nation’s No. 1 and No. 2 teams were Kansas State and Oregon. The network put the Kansas State-Baylor game on ESPN and Oregon-Stanford on ABC, both in prime time.

“When both of the top two teams in the country got upset, that was a massive day on the sports calendar that couldn’t have happened if we’d had to make those decisions three or four months beforehand,” Mr. Ben-Hanan said.

Quick scheduling turnarounds can be logistically challenging for university officials. Still, many athletic directors echoed Jay Jacobs of Auburn, who said, “It works very well for us now that we’re used to it.”

Underscoring ESPN’s special relationship with college football is the fact that it created and owns the software used for scheduling games. The online portal, known as the Pigskin Access Scheduling System, or PASS, is now used by virtually all conferences and colleges, as well as competing networks. Generally, the colleges work together to set up nonconference matchups, but sometimes they reach out to ESPN for a suggestion, or even to play matchmaker.

In January, Bob Arkeilpane, the deputy athletic director at Cincinnati, sent an e-mail to an ESPN executive, Dave Brown. Mr. Arkeilpane explained in the message, which was obtained by The Times, that Cincinnati would be opening a new premium seating area and press box in 2015 and needed a top-tier opponent.

Mr. Brown, who is well known for his thick Rolodex, wrote back that morning, “Will do — let me look and see what’s out there for ’15.”

ESPN’s Promotion Machine

In the business of college sports, success on the field is crucial. But almost as important is the perception of success. Central to the process of molding perceptions is ESPN’s multipocketed toolbelt of off-the-field programming, gimmicks and teasers, which provide exposure and help the network promote players, coaches and universities, many of them its television partners.

ESPN’s promotion machine was in full force last Sept. 1, when two of the most hallowed names in college football, Alabama and Michigan, kicked off the season in a prime-time Saturday game, brokered by ESPN, at Cowboys Stadium in Texas. According to the contract, which was reviewed by The Times, each university earned $4.7 million.

Pregame hoopla had started two weeks earlier, when ESPN announced that “College GameDay,” its premier college football talk and campus-craziness extravaganza, would broadcast from outside the stadium.

The show began on ESPNU at 9 a.m. and was picked up on ESPN from 10 until noon, with its typical mix of news, analysis of the Alabama-Michigan game and others being played that day, and a tour of tailgate parties in the parking lot. One of the show’s stars, the former coach Lee Corso, performed his weekly antic of predicting the winner of the featured game, in this case Alabama, by donning the head of the team mascot.

It was a perfect Saturday for ESPN, designed to nurture one of the choice constituencies of the transformed college football world: the breakfast-to-bedtime fan. The idea, Mr. Ben-Hanan said, is to “be able to have fans sit down in the morning, watch ‘College GameDay’ and really not be satisfied until the last game, usually from the Pac-12, at the end of the night and into ‘SportsCenter.’ ”

As much as any piece of ESPN programming, “GameDay” crystallizes the dynamic of exposure, and the colleges’ hunger for it. “GameDay,” according to another of its stars, Kirk Herbstreit, a former Ohio State quarterback, is essentially a “48-hour infomercial” for the home team.

The show’s arrival on campus typically comes after much lobbying and planning.

In the fall of 2011, ESPN sent Texas A&M’s athletic director at the time, Bill Byrne, a detailed memorandum outlining “on-site requirements” for the show “in advance of a potential visit to College Station.” Those included signs for Home Depot, AT&T and other sponsors, as well as a promotional presence for ESPN consumer products.

As Texas A&M awaited a decision, it found itself in furious competition for a small piece of the show’s reflected glory. ESPN announced a contest to determine which university would get to host the filming of a “GameDay” commercial. The balloting, on Facebook and other social media sites, was shut down almost immediately because of the sheer volume of votes and suspicions that hackers were skewing the results. When ESPN reopened the voting, with better security, Texas A&M, with a quarter-million votes, edged Nebraska.

More than 20,000 fans showed up when the commercial was shot the next summer in College Station.

On Sept. 2, 2012, Texas A&M — still unranked but newly arrived in one of ESPN’s prime conferences, the SEC — learned that it would also finally get a visit from “GameDay,” the show, the following Saturday. Texas A&M lost to Florida, but the athletic department later boasted that the “GameDay” exposure was worth an estimated $6.5 million.

The game also marked the beginning of the making of Johnny Manziel as on-field phenom and media superstar.

Throughout the season, ESPN kept close tabs on Mr. Manziel, not only on game days but also during its daily “SportsCenter” and “College Football Live” programs and, eventually, in its “Heisman Watch” poll. Leading up to the Heisman ceremony, ESPN played and replayed a signature Manziel moment, when he bobbled the ball before throwing a touchdown pass late in an upset victory over Alabama.

As a freshman, Mr. Manziel was barred by Texas A&M from giving interviews. But ESPN and the university found a way to leverage his silence, and the anticipation it had created. The Aggies did not have a game during the final week of the regular season, meaning he would be off the radar at a pivotal moment in the Heisman race. But the university granted ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt an interview that became a lead story on “GameDay” that Saturday.

“We knew that ESPN would provide a great venue for us to continue the conversation about Johnny Manziel that weekend,” said Jason Cook, a Texas A&M athletics executive.

The conversation continues. In April, the annual “GameDay” spring bus tour stopped in College Station, anointing Texas A&M as a team to watch in 2013. When the bus pulled out, ESPN stayed for another day to televise Mr. Manziel’s return to the field for the Aggies’ spring scrimmage. And in July, at the SEC Media Days event, he faced a gantlet of interviews to explain, among other topics, his tumultuous off-season — including a guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge stemming from a fight the year before. Recently, ESPN reported that the NCAA was investigating whether Mr. Manziel accepted payments for signing autographs.

The Ambiguities of Exposure

Mr. Hyman, the Texas A&M athletic director, has a long and intimate acquaintance with the benefits, and the underbelly, of ESPN’s branding of college football programs.

In the late 1990s, he became the athletic director at Texas Christian, where the football team was so bad that students would chant, “Two, four, six, eight, score before we graduate.” He made a priority of building a relationship with ESPN.

“We started to have to play on Monday, on Labor Day,” Mr. Hyman said. “We played on Thursdays, Wednesday, nontraditional days. It was difficult for our fans.”

T.C.U. even played on Fridays, sacred days for Texas high school football. The Horned Frogs have since played in the Rose Bowl and moved to the Big 12, one of the power conferences.

Mr. Hyman became the athletic director at South Carolina in 2005, when the football team was mired near the bottom of the SEC. “We struggled for visibility,” he recalled.

However, South Carolina had a new coach, Steve Spurrier, who was highly telegenic and had been extremely successful at Florida. He instantly won the attention of ESPN.

At Florida, Mr. Spurrier had almost always played on Saturdays. Now he had no such luxury. South Carolina became a Thursday night fixture on ESPN, went on to a succession of bowl games and in 2011 finished in the top 10 in the national rankings.

Nowadays, many of the teams playing in bowl games are nowhere near the top 10. A small group of bowls, including the Rose, the Sugar and the Cotton, was once the preserve of the season’s very best teams. But last year, more than half the teams in the N.C.A.A.’s top division were invited to one of 35 postseason games.

That huge expansion, with ESPN in a leading role, underscores some of the perils of the exposure game.

In 1991, the network turned the bowl season into Bowl Week, surrounding the games with its full complement of programming. But as ESPN gobbled up rights to the growing roster of games — this season it will televise all but two — and created or bought others, Bowl Week morphed into Bowl Month.

ESPN’s nine fully owned, commercially linked bowl games, with names like the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl and the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl, generally draw some of the lowest TV ratings of the college football postseason. Still, they provide hours of low-cost live programming and help ESPN reward its partner conferences and teams.

For the universities, though, the benefits can be evanescent. A bowl invitation, even to a minor game, can make a lackluster season shine and boost recruiting efforts. But ESPN-owned bowls have among the lowest payouts to participants, so colleges can lose money, after travel expenses and contractual bowl bonuses for coaches.

In 2011, before Mr. Manziel’s arrival, Texas A&M’s record was 6-6, mediocre but good enough to merit an invitation to the ESPN-owned Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas. Texas A&M’s profit was $230,000 — before the university rewarded its coaches under a line item noted as “extra pay for extra work.”

“Quite frankly, not a lot of people make money” from bowl games, Mr. Hyman said, adding, “You’ve just got to minimize your losses as much as you can.”

Similarly, while some teams have ridden the wave of television money and exposure so skillfully that their athletic departments have been able to contribute revenue to their universities’ general funds, many more struggle to make the programs pay for themselves.

One of the winners is South Carolina, where the athletic department is sending about $4 million this year to the university at large. About half of that money comes from the university’s share of the SEC’s new contract with ESPN. But of 340 Division I colleges, the athletic departments at only 23 generate enough revenue to cover their expenses, according to a report that Daniel Fulks of Transylvania University prepared for the N.C.A.A. in May.

Either way, on many campuses today, it is impossible to ignore the anxiety about the trade-offs inherent in big-time sports. These concerns turned up repeatedly in a Times review of minutes from faculty senate meetings in recent years.

In March, the East Carolina chancellor, Steve Ballard, spoke in support of a faculty senate resolution urging Conference USA universities to review their travel policies to minimize disruption to classes and tests. According to a paraphrase in the minutes, Mr. Ballard “stated that it is absolutely against the interests of public education to let commercial entities like ESPN dictate the football schedules and therefore dictate the travel schedules and the class time available to our student athletes.”

Several years ago, Alan DeSantis, a communications professor who was then the faculty athletic representative at Kentucky, where basketball is king, decried the profusion of Tuesday and Wednesday night games.

“When did that ever become acceptable?” Mr. DeSantis asked. “It’s because there’s television revenue, and ESPN wants a night game.”

“And so for our amusement, for America’s amusement,” he added, “my students and your students are being yanked out of class to make us happy. And then they’re getting on the plane and we’re getting back at 3 in the morning exhausted and drained, and then we’re wondering why our kids aren’t performing better.”

In a recent interview, Mr. DeSantis said he had tried to persuade SEC presidents to agree on a rule barring athletes from missing more than 20 percent of classes because of games. He failed.

“It is like this insane arms race where no one wants to take their foot off the accelerator because everyone around them is upping the ante,” he said.

Winners, Losers and the WAC

On Sept. 18, 2010, ESPN announced its “GameDay” site for the following Saturday: Boise State.

That a university in a place so distant, geographically and psychically, from the national consciousness would become a national television draw would have been unimaginable in the world before ESPN. The story of Boise State’s rise, and how it played out across one college football conference, is a vivid demonstration of ESPN’s role in the making of winners and losers in this era of realignment.

In the mid-1980s, desperate for visibility, Boise State went so far as to install blue turf at Bronco Stadium. Although the team was often a winner, it was not a member of the N.C.A.A.’s Division I-A until 1996.

Things began to change five years later, when Boise State joined the Western Athletic Conference. The Broncos’ wide-open passing offense immediately caught the eyes of ESPN executives. The team’s willingness to play on weeknights won their hearts.

Boise State’s coach at the time, Dan Hawkins, told The Idaho Statesman that while he preferred to play at midday Saturday, “the kind of exposure that you’re able to get by being on TV, that’s tremendous in recruiting.”

The athletic director, Gene Bleymaier, said he was hoping for one nationally televised game a year. But ESPN provided much more than that, and Boise State began to sprint up the rankings, becoming a regular in the top 25 and reaching two B.C.S. games, including the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, where the Broncos upset Oklahoma, 43-42, in overtime.

“To the extent that Bronco Nation is defined by people outside our area and our blue field, it’s ESPN’s coverage over recent years that allowed this to happen,” Boise State’s president, Bob Kustra, said.

ESPN, in turn, was able to spruce up its midweek schedule with an attractive product that got even better as recruits flocked to Boise State after seeing the Broncos play in prime time.

What was good for Boise State and ESPN was also good for the WAC, a middle-of-the-road conference whose prominence was dependent on one or two teams breaking out.

ESPN’s rights payment to the WAC reached $3.4 million in 2010, federal tax statements show, and Boise State’s bowl appearances brought more money to the conference. In less than a decade, ESPN had helped establish Boise State as a national brand. It had also made the university, in effect, too successful for the WAC. So in 2010, Boise State looked for more advantageous financial arrangements. It found them in the Mountain West.

The extent of ESPN’s involvement in the reordering of conferences has been the subject of much debate. N.C.A.A. rules forbid television networks from dictating what they want conferences or colleges to do, but they are free to offer an opinion if asked.

Mr. Skipper, ESPN’s president, acknowledged that conference officials frequently consulted him.

“I had, on occasion, two conference commissioners ask me about adding the same school,” Mr. Skipper said, “and I said to both of them: ‘Yes, you should add that school. If you can add that very prominent school, it would be good for your conference. But I’m not telling you to do it.’ I don’t provide leading advice, and I don’t say, ‘Wink, wink, I’ll pay you more money if you do that.’ ”

ESPN executives have argued that realignment has been bad for the network’s balance sheet because of a contractual incentive known as the composition clause, which allows conferences to reopen a rights deal, and get more money, if valuable colleges come on board. (ESPN can also reopen a contract if universities leave.)

“If we could go back to the day conferences were aligned in 2009, we would do so in a minute,” said Burke Magnus, ESPN’s chief of college sports programming. “Almost every move has cost us money.”

Still, there is no question that the riches paid by ESPN and its competitors have been the oxygen of realignment. And many educators worry that the shakeout is having a corrosive effect on college athletics at large.

To Mr. Schmidly, the former president at New Mexico, “what’s emerging is a select set of 50 to 60 schools” and everyone else.

The winners, Mr. Schmidly said, “will all have stadiums that seat more than 50,000. They’ll all have TV contracts that bring in $20 million to $30 million a year. And because they have all that money, they will be good in all sports.”

Meanwhile, he added, “The rest of the institutions will be struggling because they don’t have the same set of opportunities.”

Over the years, the WAC has been front and center in realignment. There are more than 20 former WAC programs. After Boise State’s departure, the conference became much less desirable to ESPN, and its annual television fee plummeted to $1 million, tax statements show. That caused more teams to leave.

The WAC had a long and strong football tradition, but it could not weather the financial hit that followed Boise State’s exit. In August 2012, its membership down to seven universities, the WAC announced that it would abandon football at year’s end.

This season, two former WAC universities, New Mexico State and Idaho, are stranded without a football conference, forced to cobble together schedules as independents, though they will be joining the Sun Belt Conference in 2014 for football.

Eight years ago, after ESPN televised a New Mexico State game, the university’s president, Michael V. Martin, explained the event’s significance to the faculty senate. “I will tell you, last Saturday we hit a home run,” he said, “not because we had the biggest crowd in the history of N.M.S.U. football, not because we had the first sellout before game day, but because we were on ESPN nationally.”

But Mr. Martin, who last year became the chancellor at Colorado State, recently said: “ESPN treated the WAC as marginal cannon fodder. The contract was ridiculously small, and they made you play Thursday night at 8 if you wanted any exposure at all.”

Jeff Hurd, the WAC commissioner, said, “There is certainly a reality to the collegiate athletic world; the business side is very much there.” He added, “For lack of a better way to say it, it does become survival of the fittest.”

Edited by dad1153 - 8/27/13 at 2:04am
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Critic's Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - Aug. 25, 2013

AMC, 9:00 p.m. ET

In the first episode of its final lap, Breaking Bad included a snappingly tense scene in which Walter (Bryan Cranston) was Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
confronted by his brother-in-law, DEA agent Hank (Dean Norris). In last week’s second returning episode, Hank confronted Walt’s wife, Skyler (Anna Gunn), in a scene that was just as astoundingly intense.
This week, what’s next? Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
[(Hank confronting Aaron Paul's Jesse, for starters.) And when does Walt Jr. (RJ Mitte) enter the informed loop?
Because that, more than anything else, is where Walter’s Achilles heel resides.

MTV, 9:00 p.m. ET

The MTV Video Music Awards themselves are worthless – and these days, MTV giving out awards for videos is like the History Channel giving out awards for shows about actual history. But the live awards show, on the other hand, is well worth checking out. This year, the scheduled performers include Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Robin Thicke and Kanye West – most of whom, on this occasion, will be trying to outshine the others. Yikes.

Showtime, 9:00 p.m. ET

The good news is, Dexter (Michael C. Hall) now has, at this point, what could almost be considered healthy relationships with his sister, his former girlfriend protégé, and even the therapist who shaped his particularly twisted moral code. But there’s a killer on the loose who’s striking closer and closer to Dexter himself, and it’s hard to believe one of the people around him will not be next.

HBO, 10:00 p.m. ET

This episode is a superlative example of Aaron Sorkin at his best – and by far the finest outing in this show’s two-year history. Simple as that.

Sundance, 10:00 p.m. ET

Turn your TV dial to 11, and enjoy this 1984 mockumentary, which remains, almost 30 years later (!!!), astoundingly fresh and sassy. Rob Reiner directs, and also co-wrote the partly improvised screenplay, along with Spinal Tap band members Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer and Michael McKean. Also, watch for the many familiar faces having fun here: not only Reiner and Fran Drescher, but Paul Shaffer, Patrick Macnee, Billy Crystal, Dana Carvey, Ed Begley Jr., and Fred Willard.[/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
post #89140 of 93675
TV Notes
The God of ‘SNL’ Will See You Now
How do you please Lorne Michaels? Twenty-two ‘Saturday Night Live’ cast members – and one who came close – share tales of the audition that can make or break a career.
By Dave Itzkoff, The New York Times - Aug. 25, 2013

How do you please Lorne Michaels? Twenty-two ‘Saturday Night Live’ cast members – and one who came close – share tales of the audition that can make or break a career.

For nearly 40 years, “Saturday Night Live” has been a reliable engine for generating new comedic talent, and a springboard for stars like Dana Carvey, Will Ferrell, Jimmy Fallon and Kristen Wiig.

Though new cast members come from many different avenues, there’s ultimately only one way to get on this NBC late-night franchise: impress Lorne Michaels, the “SNL” creator and executive producer who has run the show for 33 of its 38 seasons and is known for his cryptic, sphinxlike presence over the show.

This year he and his team have their work cut out for them as they try to replace the veteran “SNL” players Bill Hader, Fred Armisen and Jason Sudeikis and prepare for the departure of Seth Meyers early next year. These losses will test a tradition that has evolved through decades, as Mr. Michaels and his colleagues spend their summers scouring sketch and improv comedy theaters and stand-up clubs around the country to replenish the ranks at “Saturday Night Live.”

But what exactly is Mr. Michaels looking for? While his personal tastes are enigmatic and the show’s recruiting process is generally opaque, dozens of performers have successfully navigated this minefield of uncertainty and anxiety.

Here, 22 past and present “Saturday Night Live” cast members — and one who almost made it — tell how they auditioned for the show. In these excerpts from their recollections, they reveal the stages of an obstacle course that often culminates with an audition on the “SNL” stage at NBC’s Studio 8H (sometimes more than once) and an ambiguous final interview (or is it a personality test?) with Mr. Michaels himself — all for that one career-making chance to declare that “Live, from New York, it’s ‘Saturday Night’!”

The Original Auditions

I didn’t think the show would last more than a year. I’m not even sure Lorne [Michaels] did. We were going to get our licks in while we could. We went through this stage where basically people tried out with stand-up and [comedy] groups. Gilda [Radner] was already chosen, and Danny [Aykroyd], too. Then [as a head writer] I sat with Lorne in the Steinway building on 57th Street. There was a little proscenium stage, and lots of acts came in. We took Jane [Curtin]. Billy Murray, we didn’t take. [Laughs.] I don’t remember why. But for some reason he didn’t make the cut.

We had our cast and were back at [Studio] 8H, and there was a little room nearby with a long desk which could act as a stage. Lorne asked everybody to go up there and do something. At the end he said, “Chevy, get up there and do something.” So I made up some strange story about Gerald Ford. It was pretty clear that I was a funny guy. I was taller than everybody, and very handsome. [Laughs.] It was a good choice, really.

The Humble Beginnings

I was doing stand-up and being offered a lot of bad TV shows. Bill Murray, [Dan] Aykroyd, [John] Belushi — they were guys who might make you laugh, but they could beat you up if they wanted to. I looked like Timmy from the “Lassie” show.

MOLLY SHANNON I heard that Lorne Michaels was looking at tapes. I used my waitressing money and made a tape of my characters. I was on a pay phone across from an El Pollo Loco, and I found out that he had passed on it. I was crying. I was devastated.

TRACY MORGAN I was married, I had three sons, and I was on welfare. I didn’t want that no more. I knew that if I got “Saturday Night Live,” it would change me and my family’s lives forever.

CHERI OTERI I was temping, and my manager called me and said, “What are you doing Monday?” And I was like: “Very funny. I’m temping here at legal at Disney.” And he goes, “No, you’re not — you’re flying to New York to audition for ‘Saturday Night Live.’ ” I screamed so loud at the legal department at Disney, and that’s a no-no.

The Bad Advice

There was a woman scouting for the show, and she said: “Whatever you do, when you audition for Lorne, don’t do that character, Mary Katherine Gallagher. Lorne will hate that. You’ll never, ever get hired if you do that for your audition.”

DAVID SPADE Dennis Miller told me: “You don’t want to kill too hard, Spudley. It throws up a red flag. You don’t want to be a polished road act.” And I go: “Well, I’m certainly not that. There’s no danger.”

JAY MOHR I didn’t take it [the audition] very seriously. The odds of getting on “Saturday Night Live” are zero. You could go to astronaut school, and you can learn how to get in a rocket and go to the moon, but there’s no “getting a stand-up on ‘Saturday Night Live’ ” school.

The Anxiety

The hotel I was staying at, everybody was somebody who’d been flown in for the audition. If you went and got ice, you would hear snippets of auditions. Everybody else’s stuff sounds better than yours.

KRISTEN WIIG They said the audition should be five minutes long, and do not go over five minutes. I ended up buying a stopwatch because I was so nervous. I would time it and it would say “5:02,” and I would be like, “I’m going to get this in five minutes exactly.” Then I heard that some people were out there for 11 minutes. I was like, “What?”

BILL HADER I got in an elevator, and there was a guy who was also auditioning, and I thought: “That guy brought a lot of props. I didn’t bring anything.” And he was looking at me, going, “That guy didn’t have to bring any props.” We were just sizing each other up in the elevator. And that was Andy Samberg.

JIMMY FALLON In makeup, they go, “Hey, Jimmy, some advice: Lorne Michaels doesn’t laugh when you audition. So don’t let that throw you.” Then the audio guy, he goes, “Hey, little advice — Lorne doesn’t like to laugh.” I’m like, “O.K.” Then Marci [Klein, a longtime “SNL” producer] comes out: “Jimmy, they’re ready for you. But hey, a little advice for you. If Lorne doesn’t laugh, be cool.” I’m like, what is this guy’s problem? He’s doing a comedy show. Why does he not like to laugh?

WILL FERRELL Everyone was camped out in these dressing rooms on the ninth floor. It felt like we were a bunch of paratroopers, about to storm the beach at D-Day. “You hear any news from the front?” You stand outside the stage doors while you’re listening to the performer ahead of you finish up. And you’re looking along the walls, at all the past cast members. It’s just hitting you, and you’re trying not to vomit.

OTERI Chris [Kattan] and Will [Ferrell] and I all went out — I don’t want to say where, because it’s a famous restaurant and it’s Italian-owned and I don’t want any trouble. But I ended up throwing up all night from food poisoning. All the blood vessels in my eyes were broken, and the blood vessels in my face. I did not sleep. I walked into the audition and the makeup person said, “Oh my God, what happened to you?” I looked like I was in a car accident.

The Characters

CARVEY I had done the Church Lady as a stand-up character. So by the time Lorne saw me, I did the whole thing: “Well, well, well, we like ourselves don’t we?” “Conveeeenient.” I had a bunch of impressions like Robin Leach and things that were cool back in the ’80s.

MOHR I did an Andrew McCarthy impression and that was good currency, because it was very strange and very off the beaten path. I did a lot of De Niro and Pesci as Batman and Robin.

OTERI The biggest thing on was Diane Sawyer interviewing Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley. So I played Lisa Marie Presley in that interview. She’s like rock royalty marrying the king of pop, and she sounded like a street-corner thug. Overly defensive but a tough cookie.

ANA GASTEYER I did Martha Stewart. I was kind of obsessed with her. I knew that if I wore a blond wig I could look like her, and she had this patrician thing I’d grown up with.

FERRELL I did Bill Clinton. That was horrible. Especially when I saw Darrell Hammond’s audition. I was like, “Oh, I get it — he’s the impersonation guy.”

CHRIS PARNELL I did this Southern preacher, who, it comes out through his sermon, is sexually obsessed and really inappropriate.

MORGAN I did a gay track runner. And a character named Biscuit, from the inner city, who had a chip on his shoulder because his dad wasn’t there.

FALLON I did a celebrity walk-a-thon and put a bunch of celebrities in it. Seinfeld, Gilbert Gottfried, Bill Cosby. I was such a giant Adam Sandler fan, and I had a good impression of him.

MEYERS It’s 2001, so I think I’m doing Russell Crowe, Hugh Grant and David Arquette.

FRED ARMISEN Fericito, the Latin timbales-playing Tito Puente guy, was the majority of my audition. I did Sam Waterston from “Law & Order” and Vin Diesel.

WIIG I did a very timely impression of Jane Pauley. [Laughs.] That was just a sign of things to come, because I always played older women with short hair.

HADER My audition was me as Vinny Vedecci, doing Al Pacino talking to his maid staff. Tony Blair talking about the new “Star Wars” movie in Parliament. James Mason with an expired gift certificate for a dozen doughnuts.

TARAN KILLAM I did eight or nine impressions, including Brad Pitt, Jimmy Fallon, Tom Hanks, Paul Giamatti and Seth Rogen. I finished with this sketch that is a hypothetical Super Bowl between the New York Giants and the New York Jets, and to honor the two New York teams, they’ve hired Broadway superstar David Keith Mitchell to perform the halftime show by himself. It’s a medley of musical-theater show tunes, and David Keith Mitchell clearly knows very little about football.

CECILY STRONG I did Elizabeth Dole responding to a heckler.

KATE McKINNON I did Penélope Cruz. I did Sally Field and Temple Grandin. It’s too bad she’s not in the news more. I have that in my back pocket in case she does anything wacky.

The Omens (Good)

OTERI I felt good because I heard Lorne laugh a little bit. I saw him out of the corner of my eye, laughing his very subtle, subtle laughter. Almost regal laughter.

ANDY SAMBERG The only person I for sure knew was laughing was Tina [Fey, then the “SNL” head writer], which, outside of Lorne, is the best thing you could hear.

The Omens (Bad)

I leave the stage, and Lorne gets up from his seat and shakes my hand and says, “Thank you for coming.” And I was like: That’s it. Goodbye. No more. I didn’t have to wait long before I got a phone call which said, “They want to fly you back out in two weeks to audition again.” And I’m like: What? I gave you all of my A material. Can’t they just hire me from that? The second audition, Lorne didn’t get up to shake my hand. We got a call: It’s not going to happen this season, but it’s not never.

RACHEL DRATCH I didn’t get it that year [of her first audition]. They hired Horatio [Sanz], Jimmy [Fallon] and Chris Parnell, and they said: “We’re not taking any women this year. But maybe next year.” I was at peace with it.

FERRELL The directive for my callback was even less structured than the first audition. But first there was a meeting with Lorne, face to face. I started to go through what I was going to do, and Lorne basically said, “Oh, I wouldn’t do that. We’ve already seen this.” By the end of it, I said, “Are you saying, basically, come up with a whole new audition?” And he was like, “Yeah.”

I [had come] in with a briefcase full of counterfeit money that I’d bought at a toy store. And in the middle of whatever Lorne was going to say, I was going to start stacking the equivalent of $25,000 on his desk. “Listen, Lorne, you and I can say whatever we want to say. But we really know what talks, and that’s money. I’m going to walk out of this room, and you can either take this money or not. And I can be on the show.” But it was just not a joking atmosphere. It was just tense. And I never get to do my gag.

SHANNON I felt very calm, that I did the best job I could do. Then I was out with my sister, celebrating that I got to meet Lorne, and I got mugged. Thrown down on the ground in TriBeCa. It didn’t bother me because I was still so excited.

The 11th-Hour Inspiration

I had gone to a flea market in New York and bought these short shorts. Liz Cackowski [then an “SNL” writer] had come by to wish me luck [on my callback], and I was wearing those shorts and doing this bit, called “The Out-of-Breath Jogger From 1992.” It was just me in these short shorts, yelling out things from 1992 and talking about how out of breath I was. And she was like, “You should do that tomorrow.” I was like, “O.K., I’ll do it.” Because what have I got to lose, really?

FERRELL I was talking with Chris [Kattan] and Cheri, going, “You guys, I have to literally revamp everything.” I was up till 3 in the morning. And then I did a sketch where I was a guy, alone in my office, who in between taking calls would play with cat toys. There’s a point where I’m rolling around on the ground, in complete silence, playing with cat toys. And I’m thinking: Oh, it’s over.

The Lorne Meeting

MEYERS They flew me all the way back to New York to meet with Lorne. I realized later that he was doing a final personality vet. He said, “Do you think you can live in New York?” And I thought, “Does anyone blow it at this stage?” Does anybody get this far in the process, and then is like, “It’s definitely New York? Well, if you guys can’t be flexible on that, I’m not sure if I can be flexible on that.”

SAMBERG There’s a quote of Lorne’s, that you’re not just hiring talented people — you’re hiring people that you don’t mind seeing in a dark hallway at 6 in the morning. At some point or other, you’re going to bump into every single person who works there with your hair completely standing on end and the bags under your eyes are down to your ankles.

FALLON I was sitting there with Lorne’s assistant for three hours, and I’m like, “Whenever he’s ready, I’m here.” And she’s like, “You know, Chris Farley waited for eight hours.”

TIM MEADOWS Lorne just asked me about myself. Where did you grow up? What kind of stuff were you interested in comedically? I told him I was a big fan of “SNL” and Monty Python, and Second City and Mel Brooks. Being an African-American, I think I may have surprised him that I was influenced by those things.

MORGAN He saw my head was on my family, and there’s where me and him connected. Not even on comedy. We were both fathers.

KILLAM I said: “I don’t want to be so presumptuous to say I’ll come on your show and I’ll kill. But I definitely think if you hired me, I’d do a very good job.” He said: “No, no, no, no. Confidence isn’t your problem.” And he just left it at that. But all I could think is: “Wait, what is my problem? Tell me what my problem is, I’ll fix it!”

GASTEYER I didn’t say a single thing right. In fact, I cried in the parking lot.

WIIG I barely remember it because I was so nervous. He was telling me a story about Chevy Chase, and I was thinking, “Oh my gosh, this guy has a huge fish tank in his office.”

McKINNON I thought I had undone what I done in the audition room by being so boring. I was pretty catatonic. I think all I said was, “I’m from Long Island.”

MARC MARON I think I was a little high on pot. There were some pictures facing [Mr. Michaels], and in front of the pictures was a bowl of candy. It was all very loaded. And then he just starts looking at me, to a point where Steve Higgins [then an “SNL” producer] goes, “Lorne?” And Lorne goes, “You can tell a lot by looking into someone’s eyes.” And then I took a candy. Lorne looked at Steve, and the meeting was over. I thought I failed the candy test.

The ‘No’

If it panned out, my life would have been dramatically different. I wouldn’t be mildly obsessed with Lorne Michaels. I talk to people about Lorne because I’m hung up on it. I feel like I need to talk to him again to get some closure. [Laughs.]

The ‘Maybe’

I was staying at a Motel 6 when I got the call I was hired as a writer-performer. I told Rob [Schneider, then another new “SNL” hire]: “Wait, we’re writer-performers? I don’t want to be a writer.” He goes: “No, this is great. Chevy Chase was a writer.” I go: “I just want to be on it. I don’t know how to write sketches.” That’s where the stress started, and never stopped.

COLIN QUINN I got hired as a writer. [He later appeared on the show as a performer and “Weekend Update” anchor.] Maybe Lorne was like: I don’t see a great love affair between him and the audience, but I do see him maybe crouched in an office somewhere with whatever Mac they had in 1995. His spindly Irish fingers could probably ooze out a couple of sketches for us. Lorne actually said to me, “All you did [in your audition] was keep a couple more guys’ chances alive because you bombed so badly.”

The ‘Yes’

[Mr. Michaels] never really has a moment where he says, “So, welcome to the show.” He phrases it, “So, we’re bringing you to New York.” And I thought, God, another audition? And he goes, “Cheri’s going to be there, too.” And that’s when it hit me: Oh, my God. I got the gig. But I didn’t have a celebratory moment with him. Then I got self-conscious, like it came across that I didn’t care about getting the job. So I stood up real quick, and I’m like: “Well, gosh, thank you. I just want to shake your hand.” And he said, “Do whatever you have to do.”

OTERI I waited for [Mr. Ferrell] outside, and we said nothing to each other. We held each other’s hands and walked to the parking lot and then jumped and let out the biggest scream in the world. We stopped at a restaurant and called our dads.

HADER I knew I had been hired, and I knew that Andy [Samberg] had been hired. Then I get on the plane with him, and I’m acting like: “Hey, can you believe this? We’re going to be on ‘SNL.’ ” And Andy was like, “God, do you think it’s going to be both of us, or are they just going to pick one of us?” And I started to realize: “Oh, they haven’t told him yet. Do I tell him?” So I just sat there talking with him this whole plane ride, as he’s like, “What’s going on?” I knew, and it was awkward.

ARMISEN That night everyone who auditioned went to dinner, and Marci Klein called me on my cellphone and said, “I think we’re going to make this work out.” I saved the number on this little Nokia phone as “Best Call Ever.”

SHANNON I went from being a waitress to doing “Saturday Night Live.” I also went from doing these little stage shows, where I would cold-call people I met at my restaurants, making 500 calls to get 200 people to come to my live show. When I got “SNL.” I took my box of names and phone numbers and I threw it in the trash.

HADER I went from kindergarten to Harvard. I took the attitude of: I don’t really know this, so don’t try to pretend you know more than you do. At an after-party at my fourth season, Lorne said: “Hey, you know, you got the job. Relax. You can stay as long as you want. Have fun.”

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Critic's Notes
Real Racism: What Aaryn Gries Reveals about Reality TV
Everyone has been horrified by Big Brother contestant Aaryn Gries’ racist comments this season but crucifying her hides reality TV’s systematic and troubling race problem.
By Hugh Ryan, TheDailyBeast.com - Aug. 25, 2013

If you’ve watched CBS this summer, this isn’t new information about the twenty-two-year old Big Brother contestant. From saying that Korean-American houseguest Helen Kim should “go make some rice,” to flipping over the bed of African-American houseguest Candice Stewart, Gries has offended half the house—and country—with her sweet-faced, mean girl racism. Her actions have prompted CBS, for the first time ever, to publically address offensive statements made on the show (though they declined to comment for this article).

As a result, Gries has been dropped by her modeling agency and protested at her college. But far from exposing racism on Big Brother, the maelstrom surrounding Gries (and to a lesser extent, fellow houseguest GinaMarie Zimmerman), has had the ironic effect of hiding other, more systemic forms of racism that exist on Big Brother—and in reality television as a whole.

“On the televised show, absolutely, Aaryn was the martyr,” says blogger Jun Song, who is the only person of color to win BB in fourteen seasons. But, she continues, “there is such a disparity between what is actually going on in the house and what is televised.”

To know what’s really going on you have to watch the live feeds, BB’s saving grace. The feeds give (mostly) unfettered access to the houseguests around the clock, allowing obsessive fans to chronicle their every butt scratch and rape joke. It also allows for fascinating insight into the disparity between reality-TV-as-it-is-experienced-by-the-contestants and reality-TV-as-it-is-edited-for-the-viewer.

Gems caught on camera this season include:

• Saying Puerto Ricans smell funny and don’t shower;
• Suggesting that Nazi medical experiments were ultimately beneficial;
• Warning a biracial contestant that her “black side” was coming out; and
• Calling welfare “n***er insurance.”

But these statements, respectively, were made by contestants Amanda, Spencer, Kaitlyn & GinaMarie—not Aaryn. (The men have also made so many disgusting misogynistic statements that there’s no room to get into them here.)

In many ways, Gries is an easy target for anti-racist anger. She’s pretty, blond, and Southern. Her first name is an anagram for Aryan. But she’s far from the sole racist in the house.

“CBS, if you’re going to show one racist, you need to show all the racists,” says Sistah K, one of the hosts of a popular series of TV podcasts collectively called “Sistah Speak.” Sistah Speak began in 2007, when Sistah K and Sistah J were moved by their love of television—and their frustration with the overwhelmingly white male punditocracy that discussed TV in the media—to address “the need for a Black woman’s perception and honest analysis about certain shows and movies.”

“This goes on on other shows too,” says Sistah J, “but they don’t show it overtly like Big Brother because there are no live feeds.” In other words, they don’t show it because no one can call them out when they don’t.

“Racism exists on reality television,” explains Song, “because it’s a reality in life. And therefore, it has to be a reality in every sliver of our lives.”

But how that racism is portrayed on TV is the decision of producers. It’s less uncomfortable for a majority white audience to believe that there’s simply one bad apple, one racist spoiling the bunch, than to see racism as part of our everyday existence. This not only excuses the other houseguests, it hides the racism inherent in the genre itself, which is particularly obvious in one area: casting.

“Reality television programs are produced to maximize audiences at a comparatively inexpensive price,” says Dr. Bryan Denham, Professor of Communications Studies at Clemson University and co-author of a 2008 academic paper about reality TV called Survival of the Stereotypical. “They do so,” he explains, “by reproducing social stereotypes.”

In essence, reality shows don’t cast (or televise) people, they cast broad stereotypes to get us watching. “They choose very extreme personalities to make for a big summer,” agrees Song, who believes this tendency has gotten worse over the years. This pursuit of extremes is particularly troubling in combination with another reality TV truth: the paucity of contestants of color.

“It’s the same scenario every single season,” says Sistah J. “You’ve got one or two people of color and they get voted out first.” The Bachelor, she points out, has never had a person of color in the title role—a fact they were sued over in 2012.

This point was backed up by Dr. Denham’s research, with an interesting caveat. On shows that involve being “the best” (Big Brother, Survivor) or succeeding in a business (The Apprentice, Top Chef) few contestants of color ever make it to TV. But if the show is about being an entertainer (American Idol, America’s Next Top Model), you see more people of color. Why?

“Having black people succeed as entertainers does not threaten white people in the business world,” Dr. Denham states unequivocally.

When shows like Big Brother cast extreme personalities to fulfill stereotypical roles, and only one or two are people of color, what’s the effect? Those characters are cast to fulfill pre-existing racial stereotypes. Whereas white people might be typecast as a “brain,” a “Southerner,” or a “jock,” people of color are always cast as the “angry black girl,” or the “Asian tiger mom.” The stereotype is always racialized, which isolates contestants of color and makes them even less likely to win. Not only are there always fewer contestants of color, they’re handicapped from the start.

Dr. Denham doesn’t believe this happens on purpose, rather, he points out that the show runners, judges, and network executives are most likely white people with the same pre-existing assumptions. These ideas about races are so ingrained they might not even notice what they are doing. But some viewers have pointed out that it’s quite a coincidence that contestants with extreme racial viewpoints just happen to be on one of the few seasons of BB to feature three contestants of color. Certainly, the controversy has created more buzz around this season of BB than any in recent memory, giving a big boost to ratings—though Song and the Sistahs have stopped watching in disappointment, and it’s not hard to imagine other people of color have done similarly. But has the controversy actually done anything about racism? Not really.

Aaryn Gries deserves the fallout for what she’s said and done. But the idea that by dealing with Gries we will “deal” with racism on reality television is ridiculous. She becomes a sacrifice whose very punishment is the thing that allows us, the mainstream audience, to continue watching, snug and smug inside our own non-racist self-conceptions. Turning racism into a story with a villain—instead of an underlying force of our existence—guarantees that any resulting conversation will go nowhere, mean nothing, and quickly be forgotten. Indeed, despite the anger at Gries inside and outside the house, all of the contestants of color have been sent home, while she remains. Given the chance to put someone up for elimination, America has repeatedly chosen other houseguests.

The problem with crucifying someone is that they rise again. All Gries had to do was keep her head down and play well, let other “scandals” happen inside the house, and leave the rest to the producers. Already, conversations about race and racism have receded into the background. In a Very Special Episode on August 18th, we watched GinaMarie (BB’s “other racist”) befriend houseguest Helen Kim, giving us a nice hint of a Hollywood movie ending, where getting to know a person of color instantly erases centuries of racism. But even if GinaMarie’s mind changed at all in that conversation (which I doubt), that’s just a personal growth moment for a white person, and all the contestants of color are still gone.

Aaryn Gries is racist. But calling her out on her racism while ignoring our own? That’s racist too.

Hugh Ryan is a journalist and young-adult author in New York City. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Tin House, Details, and many other places. He is represented by Meredith Kaffel at DeFiore & Co. He is also the Founding Director of the Pop-Up Museum of Queer History. More can be seen on his website, hughryan.org.

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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 - Mar. 16)
9PM - Mistresses
10PM - Castle
(R - Apr. 1)
* * * *
11:35PM - Jimmy Kimmel Live! (Ashton Kutcher; Melanie Griffith; Big Sean performs)
(R - Aug. 15)
12:37AM - Nightline

8PM - How I Met Your Mother
(R - Apr. 15)
8:30PM - 2 Broke Girls
(R - Jan. 21)
9PM - 2 Broke Girls
(R - Feb. 25)
9:30PM - Mike & Molly
(R - Oct. 1)
10PM - Under the Dome
* * * *
11:35PM - Late Show with David Letterman (Patrick Dempsey; Amy Sedaris)
12:37AM - The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (Seth Rogen; Elisabeth Moss)
(R - Jun. 13)

8PM - America Ninja Warrior
9PM - Get Out Alive With Bear Grylls (Season Finale)
10PM - Siberia
* * * *
11:34PM - The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (Jeff Daniels; TV host Sherri Shepherd; Quinn Sullivan performs)
12:36AM - Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (Seth Meyers; Lily Collins; 2 Chainz performs with The Roots)
(R - Aug. 5)
1:36AM - Last Call with Carson Daly (Chef Curtis Stone; White Lung performs)
(R - May 13)

8PM - Raising Hope
(R - Jan. 29)
8:30PM - Raising Hope
(R - Feb. 5)
9PM - New Girl
(R - May 7)
9:30PM - The Mindy Project
(R - May 7)

(check your local listing for starting time/programming)
8PM - Antiques Roadshow: Billings (R - Apr. 18, 2011)
9PM - Antiques Roadshow: Billings
(R - Apr. 25, 2011)
10PM - POV: 5 Broken Cameras (90 min.)

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

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

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

11PM - Conan (Jesse Eisenberg; J.J. Abrams; 30 Seconds to Mars)
(R - May 22)

11PM - Chelsea Lately (Eric Bana)
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Technology/Legal Notes
Iowa company dragged into court in battle over TV mobility
Networks, entrepreneurs compete over best way to deliver live local TV to smartphones, tablets and other Internet devices
By Marco Santana, Des Moines Register - Aug. 25, 2013

If you’ve ever wanted to watch live local television on your smartphone or tablet, your day is near. A legal dispute that could play out in the nation’s highest court, however, threatens to restrict viewing options.

The broadcast industry is transforming. As more people leave their television sets for the Internet, the major networks want to be ahead of the trend. Some startups want a piece of the action, too.

Serial entrepreneur Jack Perry’s Marion company, Syncbak, has developed a technology that allows local television stations to transmit signals to the Internet and give access to local users who download the application. The company has some high-profile backers, with support from the National Association of Broadcasters and investment money from CBS and Des Moines venture capitalist John Pappajohn.

Other companies, such as New York-based Aereo, have circumvented the networks to offer services that retransmit the networks’ signals to Internet-enabled devices for a fee, using a small antenna the company gives customers access to. That has led to the major networks crying copyright infringement in multiple lawsuits and complaints across the country.

A California court agreed with the networks, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York has sided with Aereo. Experts expect a drawn-out battle.

“The industry is at a crossroads,” said industry analyst Justin Nielson of SNL Kagan. “Especially with the split decision, it seems like the Supreme Court is the direction this fight is going.”

Last month, Aereo dragged Syncbak into the fray, issuing a subpoena seeking documents related to the CBS investment, as well as other documents. Aereo said the information is critical to its defense.

Syncbak founder: 'It's the next big battle'

Perry does not shy away from competition.

During an interview this month with The Des Moines Register, the entrepreneur said he was ready to battle Aereo on all fronts, including the courthouse.

“The industry is figuring itself out at the moment,” Perry said. “It’s the next big battle: the battle for the people who don’t subscribe to cable. Every day, that number grows.”

The company has installed devices at nearly 300 television affiliates across the country, Perry said. Among those affiliates are the Des Moines ABC affiliate WOI, Davenport’s CBS affiliate WHBF and Sioux City’s ABC affiliate KCAU-TV.

Users download the Syncbak application, which uses a smartphone’s or tablet’s GPS to determine which available stations lie in the user’s vicinity. The affiliates determine which programming can be accessed through the application. WOI, for example, has most of its newscasts available for livestreaming.

WOI Vice President and General Manager Russ Hamilton said he frequently uses the app to check in on his station’s programming. He said the application gets consistent usage, although actual numbers were not available.

He said mobile television is likely here to stay.

“I’m not smart enough to figure out the future of television, but it’s definitely headed that way,” he said. “People are on the go.”

The technology allows broadcasters to send their signal to the Internet and restrict access to users within the station’s geographical markets. This provides a countable number the networks can use when determining advertising rates. A trial run with the television ratings agency Nielsen showed that Syncbak gives the networks accurate numbers.

“There is a new platform shift and someone has to do it the right way,” Perry said. “The way we do it, everyone upstream will get paid for the ability to deliver the live broadcast. We believe in paying the rights holder.”

Is Aereo stealing or disrupting?

Aereo has the major networks up in arms for delivering that local content without permission and without paying the rights holder.

In March 2012, a consortium of broadcast networks sued Aereo for copyright infringement.

They said Aereo’s service, which gives users access to an antenna that picks up live, local television programming, amounts to stealing their original content without permission.

Aereo counters that the company merely duplicates the function of the old-fashioned “rabbit ears” that pick up those same signals.

The truth might be somewhere in between, experts say.

“Aereo is taking free material, material that anyone could have, and they’ve created a more efficient way of watching that,” said Michael Dahlstrom, Iowa State University assistant professor of journalism. They are “the savvy techies that have found a new way to spread content ... Aereo knows very much that they are just providing a service for something that’s already free.”

Aereo’s attorney did not return emails seeking comment for this story. Aereo is also the subject of a Hearst Corp. copyright infringement complaint filed in a Boston court in July.

Nielson of SNL Kagan said the networks are concerned that startups will disrupt a portion of the industry, live television, that remains profitable.

“You have this disruptor coming in and sidestepping the business model using their over-the-air signals,” he said. “It’s a loophole they are using right now that allows them to stream the broadcast.”

The loophole concerns whether providing an antenna to a user constitutes a “public performance” of other people’s copyrighted work. Aereo’s defense, according to reports, has maintained that there is no public performance because individual users access broadcasts on their own.

Will a higher court intervene in battle?

A Los Angeles federal court’s ruling against Aereokiller, a boldly named startup that essentially does what Aereo does, means companies can no longer retransmit over-the-air broadcast signals in nine Western states.

However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York has repeatedly upheld Aereo’s side.

That increases the likelihood that the case reaches the U.S. Supreme Court, said Naomi Gray, a partner at San Francisco’s Harvey Siskind law firm who specializes in copyright and trademark law.

“There are a couple of things that make the Supreme Court take an interest in a case,” she said. “A circuit split is one of them. That creates uncertainty among the public and businesses who can’t make a decision on how to proceed.”

Gray said she has become fascinated by the case and speaks to audiences about their similarities regularly.

“One of the interesting things we have seen in the last decade, when you have these disruptive models come along, it creates a lot of controversy in the industry,” she said. “It creates a lot of litigation over time. But while that litigation is going on, the industry typically adapts around the new technology.”

Syncbak in Marion could help lead that adaptation, as it offers networks a way of making money from and retaining control of their live broadcast content.

Syncbak wants to expand its reach

As the battles play out in court, Syncbak plans to expand its reach. Perry said his company should soon be in all 210 television markets in the U.S., helping his company compete in what he called a “market share game.”

Syncbak is not Perry’s first foray into broadcast technology. From 1996 to 2009, Perry was CEO of Decisionmark, a company he said wrote the technology that allows satellite companies like DirecTV to manage local and distant network signals simultaneously.

So far, about 150,000 people have downloaded the Syncbak application. His ultimate goal involves much more than merely broadcasting live signals online.

“We are laying the groundwork, setting the stage for us to help personalize TV,” he said. “In the future of television, we will be the go-between among content owners, advertisers and users.”

To do that, his company hopes to work with the industry.

“Look at the TV space. Look at everything between viewers and content originators,” Perry said. “There are a lot of people in between and there are billions of dollars at stake if disrupters come in. The best way is to not disrupt a $70 billion industry and say, ‘Let me help you with your business model.’ ”

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Netflix executive upends Hollywood
Ted Sarandos took a big gamble on committing to 'House of Cards' without a pilot and releasing all its episodes at once. And he says ratings are irrelevant.
By Dawn C. Chmielewski, Los Angeles Times' 'Company Town' Blog - Aug. 25, 2013

When Ted Sarandos put out the word that Netflix would begin producing original shows, he was swamped with story pitches that everyone else in Hollywood clearly had taken a pass on — including some scripts marked with coffee stains, smudged fingerprints and other telltale signs of rejection.

That all changed in 2011 after Netflix bought the political thriller "House of Cards" from "The Social Network" and "Fight Club" director David Fincher.

Overnight, the Internet video service began receiving A-list pitches, including the prison comedy "Orange Is the New Black" from "Weeds" creator Jenji Kohan, a mockumentary from "The Office" creator Ricky Gervais and a sci-fi drama from "The Matrix's" Andy and Lana Wachowski.

Netflix received further validation this summer with 14 Emmy nominations, nine for "House of Cards," three for the cult comedy "Arrested Development" and two for the horror series "Hemlock Grove." None of the nominated episodes ever aired on broadcast or cable TV.

The man at the center of Netflix's transformation from DVD-by-mail service to Internet TV network, Sarandos, as the chief content officer, seems to take pleasure in upending industry conventions — ordering an entire season of a series without asking for a pilot, withholding ratings and even throwing all of a new show's episodes online at once, in one big bundle, so viewers don't have to wait a week for the next installment of a series they love.

Some of his early accomplishments were less visible to consumers. He persuaded studios to change how they manufacture DVDs so the sturdier discs wouldn't break as easily in the mail. As architect of Netflix's content strategy, he cut new deals with the TV networks so their shows could appear on Netflix a season after their initial telecast, instead of waiting four years for a program to reach syndication.

This novel approach introduced new viewers to such critically acclaimed shows as AMC's "Breaking Bad" and helped fuel ratings when it returned to prime time in the new season. Many credit Netflix with breathing fresh life into costly serialized TV dramas, which were threatened by declining DVD sales and audience attrition.

Sarandos' boldest gambit yet is Netflix's entry into original programming. As the industry's newest deep-pocketed buyer, with an annual content budget of $2 billion — and as much as 10% earmarked for original programming — Sarandos has the clout to lead the transformation of TV.

* * * *

Spend any time with Sarandos and it's clear that he remains a fan at heart. When he spots actor Jamie Foxx leaving Netflix's Beverly Hills offices, Sarandos is quick to herald the celebrity sighting.

An unabashed movie buff who once clerked at a video store, he keeps a giant etched-glass image of Marlon Brando from his favorite film, "The Godfather," prominent in his office. He once described himself as a human algorithm because he loved recommending movies based on a customer's previous rentals. And he recounts, with a hint of incredulity, the congratulations he received from such TV titans as "All in the Family" creator Norman Lear and "Charlie's Angels" producer Leonard Goldberg after the news of Netflix's first Emmy nominations.

"Ted has two feet on the ground," Lear says. "He's very rare."

Still, in a town where people are known by the company they keep, Sarandos, 49, travels in powerful circles. Earlier this month, he and his wife, Nicole Avant — daughter of former Motown Records Chairman Clarence Avant — threw an 87th birthday celebration for crooner Tony Bennett in the lantern-lit backyard of their $5-million Beverly Hills home.

The guest list included Queen Latifah, Sidney Poitier, John Travolta, Vince Vaughn, Will Arnett and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco).

Last year, he and Avant, former U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas, hosted a fundraiser for President Obama that featured First Lady Michelle Obama as the main attraction. They were among the president's top 2012 campaign bundlers, raising $500,000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Sarandos, one of five children, grew up in Phoenix with an electrician father and stay-at-home mother who left the TV on all day to cope with a chaotic household. He attended community college while working part-time in a strip-mall video store. By the age of 30, he was an executive for a company that supplied videos to Blockbuster, which now offers Internet streaming and movies by mail as a unit of Dish Network.

A first-of-its-kind revenue-sharing deal Sarandos struck with Warner Bros. while at the West Coast Video/Video City retail chain got the attention of Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings. Their first meeting went so well that Hastings recruited him to become Netflix's chief content officer in 2000.

"He loves people and he loves entertainment," says "Arrested Development" creator Mitch Hurwitz, who compares Sarandos to the late NBC executive Brandon Tartikoff and Universal Studios chief Lew Wasserman. "They really understood artists and loved the medium. Ted is one of the few people I've met who has that quality."

* * * *

Consider the way he acquired "House of Cards."

When Fincher was pitching his first television series, Sarandos was invited to meetings with representatives from other major television networks. He passed.

Instead, he asked for his own meeting with Fincher, who at the time was working on the 2011 film "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo."

"I knew the stakes were high, in terms of the size of the bet," Sarandos says. "But if we believe all those things we say we believe in — that television is going to be mostly on-demand and mostly delivered [digitally] — then someone had to lead that charge. It had to be something as good or better than anything on TV."

Sarandos studied Netflix data to determine how many subscribers watched political dramas such as Aaron Sorkin's "The West Wing" or the BBC's original 1990 "House of Cards." He identified the die-hard fans of the director's films and the series' proposed star, Kevin Spacey.

On the strength of that projected audience, Beau Willimon's script and Fincher's track record, Sarandos walked into the director's West Hollywood offices with a groundbreaking proposition: Netflix would commit to not one but two full seasons at a cost of $100 million.

Other networks had asked to see a pilot from Fincher before considering the series, a prospect the director didn't relish after receiving commitments from Spacey and Robin Wright.

"There were 100 reasons not to do this with Netflix," Sarandos says. "We had to give them one great reason to do it with Netflix."

"When somebody offers you exactly what you're asking for, be smart enough to say 'yes,'" Fincher says. "There are a lot of people in that position, deciding how they're going to spend tens of millions of dollars, who I describe as the Chihuahua inside a car with the windows rolled up on a hot summer's day. They are people who would react to this situation with incessant trembling and dyspepsia."

Commissioning its own shows was one way Netflix could differentiate itself from competitors and grow its subscriber base. Its Internet streaming service now boasts 38 million members in 40 countries, who watch about a billion hours of TV shows and movies each month — a dramatic rise from the 6.7 million customers it had in the DVD-centric days of June 2007. The company reported net income of $29.5 million for the latest quarter ended June 30, nearly quintuple its profit for the same period in 2012. Revenue shot up to $1.1 billion, up 20% from a year ago.

Netflix's push into original programming began with "baby steps." Sarandos launched the now-defunct Red Envelope Entertainment to license the rights to distribute such independent films as the Oscar-winning documentary "Born Into Brothels" and financed original productions, including Doug Benson's "Super High Me."

"It was a small, tactical thing that allowed us to get some compelling programming to our streaming service early," Sarandos says. "It helped us cut our programming chops a bit."

As online competition heated up — with YouTube striking film rental deals with major studios and Amazon launching its Prime Instant Video subscription service — Sarandos made headlines with a $200-million deal with pay-TV channel Epix for streaming rights to movies from Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The size of that check, and other deals for exclusive content, placed Netflix on a par with any other TV buyer — and elevated Sarandos' stature in Hollywood.

Netflix's first original series, "Lilyhammer," starring "The Sopranos" mainstay Steven Van Zandt, debuted with little fanfare in February 2012. The experiment validated Sarandos' instinct that subscribers liked getting episodes in one binge-happy bundle. For "House of Cards," Fincher didn't need persuading when Sarandos said Netflix would release all 13 "House of Cards" episodes at once.

"My attitude was, that sounds awesome," Fincher says. "As television becomes more and more like literature, I'd love to be able to set the book by the nightstand when I want to. It seemed like the natural progression of things."

* * * *

The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences anticipated "House of Cards" and the Netflix moment six years ago when it allowed Web series to be eligible for Emmys.

"Television no longer refers to the box sitting in your living room — television refers to storytelling," academy Chairman Bruce Rosenblum says. "The method by which our viewers experience those stories is truly irrelevant."

None of this has stopped criticism from rival networks. Executives from HBO and Fox have taken potshots at Netflix, especially for flouting the accepted industry practice of releasing ratings.

"Overnight ratings work against quality on television," Sarandos says. "That's why I don't want to adopt the one convention that I think is anti-quality."

Ratings, he insists, are irrelevant for a company that neither courts advertisers nor collects fees for cable or satellite TV subscribers.

"People go bananas," says Kohan of "Orange Is the New Black." "I had lunch with an unnamed executive who spent half the time ranting, 'If it was good news they'd tell us.'"

Sarandos didn't need to see viewer numbers before optioning a second season of Kohan's show. The series was renewed before the initial installment reached subscribers.

"Ted doesn't seem moved by fear," says Kohan, adding, "If I spent my life just writing Netflix shows, that would not be a bad thing at all."

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TV Notes
Music Producer Dr. Luke Joins ‘American Idol’ as a Judge: Report
By AJ Marechal, Variety.com - Aug. 25, 2013

Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban will have a new colleague at the judges’ table for “American Idol’s” thirteenth season.

Music producer Dr. Luke has joined “Idol” as a judge, according to reports that surfaced this weekend. While the producer’s name may not be of household status, his hit songs — including “Idol” alum Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone” and Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” — have topped the Billboard charts.

Dr. Luke’s name had been in the mix with musician will.i.am and talent manager Scooter Braun for a judging spot, though industry sources indicate that will.i.am has dropped out of the race. “Idol’s” judges’ table has been almost completely overhauled since its twelfth season, which saw the departure of Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey and “Idol” original Randy Jackson.

Fox has yet to officially announce Lopez’s return to “Idol,” though network insiders state she has been in deep negotiations for the last several weeks for the post. Fox chairman Kevin Reilly announced Urban’s return to the judges’ table during the Fox TCA session in July.

“American Idol” returns to Fox’s lineup in January.

post #89146 of 93675
Originally Posted by dad1153 View Post

TV Notes
Music Producer Dr. Luke Joins ‘American Idol’ as a Judge: Report
By AJ Marechal, Variety.com - Aug. 25, 2013

his hit songs including Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone” and Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” have topped the Billboard charts.

They should call it "American Idul". biggrin.gif
post #89147 of 93675
Originally Posted by dcowboy7 View Post

They should call it "American Idul". biggrin.gif

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Critic's Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - Aug. 26, 2013

HBO, 9:00 p.m. ET

James L. Freedman wrote, produced, directed and narrated this loving biography of sports broadcaster Marty Glickman, who gave Freeman one of his first jobs. His reverence is understandable, though, as is HBO’s in scheduling this special: When HBO began its satellite network service in 1972, Glickman was the first voice heard. He not only covered sports for HBO in its early days, but long before that – before, in fact, network television – Glickman was providing colorful descriptions of recreated sports events on radio. Bob Costas and Marv Albert speak about him in reverent tones, as do sportswriters, coaches and athletes. And that’s partly because Glickman, in his youth, was such an amazing athlete himself – a runner so fast, he made the same Olympics U.S. track team as Jesse Owens. The story about those games, and the ones Glickman reported in later decades for the New York Giants, Jets and other teams, will have you agreeing with Costas’ final assessment of Glickman as “an admirable man.”

CBS, 10:00 p.m. ET

The mini-dome vanished, then it was found again, and last week it yielded another mystifying secret: Whatever it is and does requires four hands to play, like a game of bridge, and the teens who have been experiencing seizures and visions are still one hand short. So who’s next? And meanwhile, with Natalie Zea from Justified making a dazzling first appearance on last week’s show, Dean Norris’ Big Jim suddenly has an even bigger and badder adversary in town.

PBS, 10:00 p.m. ET

Not for the first time in its history, POV takes a look at the Arab-Israeli conflict – and again, unapologetically looks from the point of view of one particular side. Check local listings.

Sundance, 10:00 p.m. ET

Tonight’s show looks at Game of Thrones, and explains, in part, how the show juggles all those sets and locations, all that action – and all that exposition.

ESPN 2, 11:00 p.m. ET
Keith Olbermann, who co-hosted ESPN’s SportsCenter for a memorable stretch beginning in 1992, returns to the ESPN family two decades later with a new sports show, premiering tonight on sister network ESPN2 right after prime time on the east coast. One thing about Olbermann – well, make that two things. One, he’s always smart. Two, no matter his chosen show or topic, he’s always watchable, so expect to be entertained. Welcome back, Keith.


* * * *

Critic's Notes
'Five Broken Cameras': The View From the Other Side
By Eric Gould, TVWorthWatching.com - Aug. 24, 2013

One day, there is the countryside and olive groves. The next, there are bulldozers, construction crews, and eventually, a military-style security fence. It is now illegal territory, and if you live there and try to cross, or demonstrate in protest, it is likely you will be beaten and gassed.

Those are some of the unpleasant realities for residents of the occupied territory of the West Bank, as recounted in the new POV documentary Five Broken Cameras, airing Monday, August 26, on PBS at 10 p.m. ET (check local listings).

The documentary, filmed by resident Emad Burnat and produced in collaboration with Israeli filmmaker Guy Davidi, was shot over seven years, beginning in 2005. The title refers to the number of cameras Burnat used to make the film, needing multiple replacements when his equipment was destroyed by Israeli Defense Forces as he filmed protests at the fences partitioning West Bank residents from the new settlements being built there.

Five Broken Cameras can't claim, and doesn't claim, to be objective journalism – there is no mention of rocket attacks on Israeli cities or Palestinian suicide bombers. Burnat and his friends never discuss Jordan and Egypt signing peace treaties with Israel, or that by signing them, their Arab neighbors signaled that the sovereignty of the West Bank was not a significant first-step to larger-scale diplomacy and security concerns.

POV, the venerable PBS series, stands for Point of View. And for this particularly depressing subject, a hand-held, single-sided view exploring this bitter place is an apt method. (POV explored the dilemmas and contradictions of the Israeli military courts in last week's documentary, The Law in These Parts. That film looked, in part, at the legal system allowing the settlements in the West Bank to continue.)

Surprising to many viewers will be the wide-open pastoral life of the West Bank, a seemingly tiny dot on the map, where subsistence farming is the way of life in many villages. Children play soccer and video games like any other kids. (Burnat's son Gibreel is at one of the concrete settlement walls, top photo). There are many moments when life seems queerly normal and mundane.

Just as surprising are the Israelis who come to help organize protests with the Palestinians. Burnat's village of Bil'in gained international attention when the Modi'in-llit settlement cut off local farmlands there.

But perhaps most startling are the harsh riot-control tactics by Israeli Defense Forces, many of which Burnat gets on videotape. Tear gas grenades rain down by the dozens, and rubber bullets are routinely sprayed at protesters. There are nighttime raids and arrests. It's hard to witness the methods, and then think back to little more than a half-century ago and the ghettos of Warsaw.

Creating peace out of hatred in the Middle East will require sacrifices and compromises on both sides. It is a process that will require courage and trust. And understanding.

It's there, maybe, that television can help. There have been countless specials and documentaries on the conflicts between Israel and its neighbors. Yet Five Broken Cameras, in its own small way, gives American audiences something they don't often get: the simple point of view of life on the other side.

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Critic's Notes
What if NBC didn't cancel 'JAG' after one season?
Would 'NCIS' exist? Would NBC be doing better than CBS at this point?
By Alan Sepinwall, Hitfix.com

This week HitFix is revisiting some of the key turning points in recent entertainment history and considering what would have happened if history had turned a bit differently. What if...?

In the spring of 1996, NBC was at the peak of its Must-See TV period. "Seinfeld," "ER," "Friends," "Frasier" and "Law & Order" were healthy and powerful, and there was a successful secondary tier of shows like "Wings," "Mad About You" and "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." The previous fall, the network had launched a new drama called "JAG," starring David James Elliott as a Naval officer and attorney who traveled the globe having adventures and defending sailors in court. By today's standards, "JAG" — which averaged 11.6 million viewers a week, despite airing on Saturday — would be a big hit, but that year it was the #79 show on TV overall, and its audience was on the old side, at a time when "Friends" and its imitators were pushing NBC ever-younger. The Peacock canceled "JAG," and CBS — which was in such dire straits that the network was happy to take any viewers, of any age — picked it up for the next spring. It would air 205 episodes over nine seasons for CBS, never a massive hit but a reliable performer and foundational piece as CBS dug itself out of a gaping hole. More importantly, when "JAG" was in its later years, the show's creator Don Bellisario pitched a spin-off to CBS about the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, aka "NCIS," which is entering its 11th season, is the most-watched drama on television and has spawned yet another successful spin-off in "NCIS: LA."

What if NBC didn't cancel 'JAG' after one season?

Three things that might not have happened:

1. On a most immediate level, Tracey Needham (who had been introduced as Elliott's partner after the pilot because NBC executives wanted a blonde, and who was dumped in season 2 because CBS executives wanted his partner to be more of a peer than a protege) might not have been replaced, and Catherine Bell might not have been added to the regular cast. (Though she did appear in a first season episode that NBC never aired, playing a different character.)

2. CBS wouldn't have acquired "JAG" — even if NBC had canceled it after only two seasons, CBS might have looked on it as damaged goods rather than a relatively unknown commodity that NBC didn't know what to do with — and therefore likely wouldn't have had access to "NCIS" or "NCIS: LA."

3. Without the "NCIS" franchise to pick up the slack from the aging "CSI" shows, CBS might not have finally finished on top of the season race among adults 18-49 for 2012-13, though the network would still be in decent shape thanks to its comedies.

Three things we predict might have happened:

1. It depends on how long NBC kept "JAG" on the air. If canceled after two seasons, maybe Bellisario retires, or at least has greater difficulty selling shows at an advanced age in a business focusing increasingly on youth. But if NBC had left it on Saturdays (or put it on Fridays, as CBS did for a long time) and accepted it as a show with a low ceiling but a high floor, it could have run for at least six or seven years, until the point when CBS introduced "CSI" and Bellisario might have been able to say to his NBC bosses, "I can give you a show like that."

2. Having "NCIS" (and perhaps "NCIS: LA") wouldn't have fixed NBC's problem in the '00s of developing sitcom successors for "Friends," "Will & Grace," et al, but it might have prevented the utter collapse of the network into its current, perhaps irreparable state. (If "The Jay Leno Show" is still a thing in this universe, it certainly does not air five nights a week.)

3. Having three "Law & Order"s and two "NCIS"es might have created a more stable foundation on which to schedule and promote mid-'00s NBC series like "Friday Night Lights," "Chuck," "30 Rock," "Parks and Recreation," etc. Then again, perhaps those shows would never have gotten bigger audiences than they did in our reality, and would have been canceled much more quickly by a healthy Peacock.

Did history work out for the best?

Yes. Both "JAG" and "NCIS" were much better fits for CBS than they would've been for NBC, whether in the Must-See TV glory days or the catastrophic mid-'00s. It's hard to imagine "JAG" running nearly as long, and perhaps "NCIS" existing at all, in this altered timeline. And TV is a more fun place with "NCIS" in it.

Edited by dad1153 - 8/26/13 at 11:29am
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SUNDAY's fast affiliate overnight prime-time ratings -and what they mean- have been posted on Analyst Marc Berman's Media Insight's Blog
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Nielsen Overnights (18-49)
CBS Sunday shows see gains
'Big Brother' rises 10 percent from last week to a 2.3
By Toni Fitzgerald, Media Life Magazine - Aug. 26, 2013

Against another winning preseason “Sunday Night Football” game on NBC, CBS’s two original Sunday shows saw week-to-week gains.

“Big Brother” was last night’s top non-football show, averaging a 2.3 adults 18-49 rating at 8 p.m., according to Nielsen overnights.

That was up 10 percent from last week’s episode.

Lead-out “Unforgettable,” a second-year drama, averaged a 1.2 at 9 p.m., up 9 percent from last week.

“SNF” drew a 2.1 from 8:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., but that number will undoubtedly rise when final ratings come out tomorrow. Overnights do not account for time zone differences nor do they measure ratings outside of primetime, and the game between the Minnesota Vikings and San Francisco 49ers lasted past 11 p.m.

Elsewhere last night, ABC’s “Secret Millionaire” averaged a 0.9 at 9 p.m., sliding 25 percent from last week.

NBC finished first for the night among 18-49s with a 1.9 average overnight rating and a 6 share. CBS was second at 1.4/4, Fox third at 1.2/4, ABC fourth at 0.8/2, Univision fifth at 0.7/2 and Telemundo sixth at 0.6/2.

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

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

NBC and Fox tied for first at 7 p.m., each with a 1.3 rating, NBC for “Madden NFL 14 Pigskin Pro-Am” and Fox for preseason football game overrun and reruns of “American Dad” and “The Simpsons.” CBS was third with a 1.1 for “60 Minutes,” ABC fourth with a 1.0 for “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” Univision fifth with a 0.6 for “Aqui y Ahora” and Telemundo sixth with a 0.4 for the movie “Salt.”

At 9 p.m. NBC and CBS tied for first at 2.3, NBC for the first hour of “SNF” and CBS for “Brother.” Fox was third with a 1.2 for repeats of “The Simpsons” and “Bob’s Burgers.” ABC and Univision tied for fourth at 0.7, ABC for the special “Family Dance Off” and Univision for “Parodiando,” and Telemundo was sixth with a 0.5 for the end of “Salt” and start of “The Twilight Saga: New Moon.”

NBC was first at 9 p.m. with a 2.1 for football, with Fox second with a 1.3 for repeats of “Family Guy.” CBS was third with a 1.2 for “Unforgettable.” ABC and Univision tied for fourth at 0.9, ABC for “Millionaire” and Univision for more “Parodiando,” and Telemundo was sixth with a 0.7 for “New Moon.”

At 10 p.m. NBC led with a 2.0 for football, while CBS and Telemundo tied for second at 0.8, CBS for a repeat of “The Mentalist” and Telemundo for the end of its movie. ABC and Univision tied for fourth at 0.6, ABC for a repeat of “Castle” and Univision for “Sal y Pimienta.”

CBS finished first for the night among households with a 4.3 average overnight rating and a 7 share. NBC was second at 3.8/6, ABC third at 2.5/4, Fox fourth at 1.8/3, Univision fifth at 1.1/2 and Telemundo sixth at 0.6/1.


* * * *

TV Notes
‘Teen Mom,’ baby mama drama
The long-running hit MTV show has become a bit repetitive
By Louisa Ada Seltzer, Media Life Magazine - Aug. 26, 2013

Perhaps this is progress.

Years ago, teenage moms were often sent away in shame. But these days there’s a whole reality TV franchise devoted to them.

“Teen Mom 3” bows tonight at 10 p.m. on MTV with four new moms to chronicle.

The show will undoubtedly get good ratings. MTV promoted the premiere during last night’s “Video Music Awards,” which will probably be the No. 1 show on cable for the week.

And previous editions of “Teen Mom” have done very well in MTV’s target demographic of viewers 12-34 as well as adults 18-49. “Teen Mom 2” was the No. 2 show on cable during second quarter with an average 2.8 million viewers in the latter demo, according to Nielsen.

This season follows four girls, who were also featured on MTV’s “16 & Pregnant.” Some are already stars; McKenzie Douthit, the Oklahoma cheerleader who recently married the father of her toddler son, has more than 78,000 followers on Twitter.

Their wedding will undoubtedly be chronicled on “Mom,” as it was in the tabloids. In fact, MTV probably owes the gossip magazines, gossip sites and social media networks a debt of gratitude for the success of “Mom.”

If it wasn’t for them, these young mothers probably would have faded from our memory long ago.

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TV Notes
Bill Murray to Return to David Letterman's 'Late Show' for 20th Anniversary
By Philiana Ng, The Hollywood Reporter's 'Live Feed' Blog - Aug. 26, 2013

Bill Murray is set to return to the Late Show With David Letterman.

The actor was David Letterman's first guest when the CBS late-night talker premiered Aug. 30, 1993. He will be back on the couch to celebrate the Late Show's 20th anniversary on Thursday, Aug. 29, marking his 26th time on the show.

By Thursday, the Late Show will have broadcast 3,897 episodes and four primetime specials in two decades on CBS. It has since won nine Emmy Awards and received 73 Emmy nominations.

Murray was also Letterman's very first guest on the Late Night show when it began in 1982 on NBC. He next appears in George Clooney's The Monuments Men (out Dec. 18) and The Grand Budapest Hotel.

The Late Show is a production of Worldwide Pants Inc. Barbara Gaines, Matt Roberts, Jude Brennan, Maria Pope, Eric Stangel, Justin Stangel and Rob Burnett executive produce.

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No political comments, please.

TV Notes
Olbermann Set to Return to ESPN and Sports News
By James Andrew Miller, The New York Times - Aug. 26, 2013

Sixteen years after an acrimonious parting, Keith Olbermann and ESPN are putting on happy faces for their highly anticipated reunion, the premiere on Monday of “Olbermann” on ESPN2, the spinoff channel that Mr. Olbermann helped start, falteringly, in 1993. This time, both sides say, no faltering.

The succinctly titled comeback vehicle, making its debut at 11 p.m. Eastern time, also returns Mr. Olbermann to sports journalism after more than 10 years in hard news, especially politics.

Although fabled throughout television as fitfully incorrigible and occasionally contentious — as well as uniquely talented for the contours of the medium — Mr. Olbermann says he has been enjoying his new environment during weeks of preparation for the premiere.

“There has been no friction at all,” he said of recent rehearsals and dry runs. “No one has said to me, ‘We let you back in, now sit back and shut up.’ Instead they’ve said, ‘We’ve let you back in, now tell us everything you want and why.’ ”

Calling Mr. Olbermann “incredibly responsive” to ideas and suggestions, Jamie Horowitz, ESPN’s vice president for original programming and production, said that a dreaded “degree of rigidity” on Mr. Olbermann’s part “is not there,” and that he has been affable and amenable.

“Because of his past TV series, there had been some reticence by the staff to tell him to try certain things,” Mr. Horowitz said. “But he’s been accountable and willing to do things. Even if I want to change a word in his script, he’s said, ‘O.K., Jamie, I’ll change it.’ ”

This does sound like a new Olbermann. He became notorious for his outspoken dissatisfaction with aspects of the profession, including management decisions, technical capabilities and journalistic vision. Such have been the raw ingredients for dramas during Mr. Olbermann’s rocky career not just at ESPN, but at Fox, MSNBC and, most recently, Current TV (reinvented under new management as Al Jazeera America).

For all Mr. Olbermann’s seemingly newfound willingness to accept advice, Mr. Horowitz said, the show is nevertheless every bit as Keith-centric as the title suggests.

“The format plays to why people like Keith,” Mr. Horowitz said. “Strong commentary, insights and his unique gift for communicating.”

Each nightly show will begin with Mr. Olbermann alone at the anchor desk for 10 to 15 minutes, reviewing as few as one or as many as 10 sports events making news. “Essentially, it will be an attempt to provide context and information and perspective that looks forward to the next day’s interpretations,” Mr. Olbermann, 54, said.

A short interview with a notable subject that plays off an aspect of one of those stories will follow, then videotaped highlights of the day’s events. “Just because I like doing highlights,” he said.

“Highlights” will be followed by a playful interlude tentatively titled “This Week in Keith History,” with clips of Mr. Olbermann from “SportsCenter,” from 1992 to 1997, that he has not seen in advance. His job will be to react amusingly.

Producers have shown five clips of “Keith History” in rehearsals, and Mr. Olbermann said he had remembered only two of them. “Reactions I’ve shown are disgust and amazement,” he said, “and I’ve had the bad taste to laugh at my old jokes.”

Among other recurring segments will be a bit introduced by Mr. Olbermann on “Countdown” on MSNBC, adapted for ESPN2 viewers. “The Worst Person in the World,” in which Mr. Olbermann held a prominent newsmaker up for ridicule, will now be “The Worst Person in the Sports World,” which Mr. Olbermann described as the same idea, but “more gentle and sarcastic.”

Guests on the show will be chosen not only because they are newsworthy, but because Mr. Olbermann wants them. “The first guest booked for this show was completely my doing,” he said. “He will be appearing the last week in September and his name is Richard Lewis,” the comedian. “We met at a Lakers game 20 years ago.” Guests for the first week will include Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks; David Epstein, a writer for Sports Illustrated; John McEnroe, the former tennis champ; Peyton Manning, quarterback for the Denver Broncos; and Russell Wilson, quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks.

Another segment, “Time Marches On,” will feature an off-the-wall look at an oddity in the news or making the rounds online. During rehearsals recently, one segment showed a YouTube video of a woman trying to shoo away two bears who were fighting with each other in a forest. Mr. Olbermann concluded with, “and those are your bears highlights for tonight.”

However genuine Mr. Olbermann’s enthusiasm for the new show appears to be, he is still dogged by questions implying that he has left the world of politics with great reluctance. He insists that is balderdash.

“No, I won’t miss politics,” he said. “My understanding of my own emotions relative to politics was really clarified in the past year. I was invited on ‘This Week With George Stephanopoulos.’ I did it twice, and they invited me on many more times. We talked about doing it on a regular basis, but I found myself coming up with really bad excuses to not do it, like my dog needs my attention. I finally figured out I just didn’t like the subject matter anymore.

“If you cover politics for eight years without interruption like I did, you need a change,” he said. “After all, we retire our presidents after eight years. Why you should make anybody cover our political system beyond that is a mystery to me. It was pretty much burned out of me.”

Nevertheless, he said he was refreshed and ready for the latest chapter in his roller-coaster professional life. “People who see me now say I look about five years younger than I did at Current,” he said.

Richard Sandomir contributed reporting.

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TV Review
‘Glickman': HBO biopic captures magic of the voice and man who became a New York sports legend
By David Hinckley, New York Daily News - Aug. 24, 2013

Just as Marty Glickman made a football game sing, James L. Freedman’s documentary makes Marty Glickman’s life sing.

Freedman, who as a high school student produced Glickman’s radio show, feels pure admiration for his subject, and it shows in every frame.

There are no dark sides here, no dirty corners, no ragged threads. If those exist, they can be dealt with somewhere else.

Freedman sets out to document what was extraordinary about Glickman’s life, from his athletic triumphs to the grace with which he handled his infamous 1936 Olympic blackballing to the skill with which he narrated every known sporting event.

Nor does Freedman ask us to take his word for it. A parade of the best announcers from subsequent generations, including Bob Costas, Mike Breen, Marv Albert and Frank Gifford, share the pleasures they felt and skills they learned from Marty Glickman.

“Glickman” devotes proper time to the Berlin Olympics, when Glickman and fellow Jew Sam Stoller were thrown off the 400-meter relay team by cowards who decided to appease Adolf Hitler.

It traces Glickman’s responses over the years — both dignified and, in two of the documentary’s most powerful and moving moments, sublimely human.

We hear his familiar voice from Knicks games, Rangers games, Giants games and model car races. We hear how he was denied a spot as a national announcer because he sounded too New York, when in fact New York was one of the best things about that voice.

He gave a clean, accurate account of a game in a way that conveyed the joy of the game.

The same can be said of “Glickman.”

Network/Time: Monday at 9 p.m., HBO
Rating: ★★★★★ (out of five)

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Critic's Notes
What if HBO picked up Winnie Holzman's show instead of 'The Sopranos'?
Would we have spent the last 15 years in a female-centric cable renaissance?
By Alan Sepinwall, Hitfix.com

This week HitFix is revisiting some of the key turning points in recent entertainment history and considering what would have happened if history had turned a bit differently. What if...?

In the late '90s, HBO executives had to decide what original drama series would be selected to follow the prison series "Oz." According to HBO executive Carolyn Strauss, the choice came down to two ideas: David Chase's New Jersey mob drama "The Sopranos," and a drama about a female business executive from "My So-Called Life" creator Winnie Holzman. HBO picked "The Sopranos," which became an enormous commercial and critical hit, transformed the way we watched and talked about television, and inspired a wave of classic dramas set in a criminal world and/or about middle-aged male anti-heroes.

What if HBO had chosen Winnie Holzman's idea instead of "The Sopranos"?

Three things that might not have happened:

1. Since TV shows traditionally don't survive through multiple development cycles, "The Sopranos" (which had already been rejected by several broadcast networks) wouldn't have existed. Chase might have quit TV the way he always threatened to, and James Gandolfini might have remained a hard-working character actor rather than an unlikely leading man.

2. No "Sopranos" means no "The Shield" (Shawn Ryan and the executives at FX have said they were specifically inspired by that show's success), no "Mad Men" (Matthew Weiner quit writing sitcoms to take a staff job in "Sopranos" season 5) and no "Breaking Bad" (Walter White is absolutely a spiritual descendant of Tony Soprano), among others.

3. Not nearly as many thinkpieces would have been written in the last few years about why cable drama is so focused on angry middle-aged white guys and the women who stand in their way and are hated by the audience as a result.

Three things we predict might have happened:

1. If the Holzman show was a hit on the level of "The Sopranos," then the DNA of the cable revolution becomes very different. There aren't nearly as many shows with complicated male protagonists — with Holzman's show and "Sex and the City" existing at the same time, in fact, HBO becomes known as a haven for female stories — nor as many about crime. More movie actresses of a certain age make the move to television, and faster, and perhaps a writer like Shonda Rhimes (who first made a splash with "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge") stays at HBO rather than going to ABC to create "Grey's Anatomy," et al.

2. If the Holzman show wasn't a hit — and if later HBO shows like "Six Feet Under" therefore didn't get any kind of halo effect from being on the same channel as a "Sopranos"-sized monster — perhaps HBO decides to abandon dramas and go back to comedies exclusively. "Arli$$" could still be on the air!

3. Without "The Sopranos" to overshadow it, the "Analyze This" franchise is at seven films and counting.

Did history work out for the best?

Yes. "My So-Called Life" is perhaps the best series of its type ever made, and Holzman's recent ABC Family show "Huge" had a lot to recommend it as well, but it's hard to imagine one of her shows becoming a popular success like "The Sopranos" — which attracted both highbrow viewers who were there for the psychology and others who were just there to see people get whacked — and therefore hard to imagine a similar but estrogen-driven revolution happening as a result. The rest of the industry didn't just imitate "The Sopranos" because it was great, but because it was a big damn hit. And though those imitations eventually led to too many derivative bastard sons of Tony Soprano like "Ray Donovan" and "Low Winter Sun," I wouldn't want to live in a timeline without the many great shows that directly followed.

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Originally Posted by dad1153 View Post

No political comments, please.

TV Notes
Olbermann Set to Return to ESPN and Sports News
By James Andrew Miller, The New York Times - Aug. 26, 2013

Sixteen years after an acrimonious parting, Keith Olbermann and ESPN are putting on happy faces for their highly anticipated reunion, the premiere on Monday of “Olbermann” on ESPN2, the spinoff channel that Mr. Olbermann helped start, falteringly, in 1993. This time, both sides say, no faltering.

The succinctly titled comeback vehicle, making its debut at 11 p.m. Eastern time, also returns Mr. Olbermann to sports journalism after more than 10 years in hard news, especially politics.

Yet another program not to watch on ESPN.
post #89157 of 93675
Originally Posted by MRM4 View Post

Yet another program not to watch on ESPN.

Whether you watch it or not, it doesn't matter. The Bristol Behemoth will still get their $5.50 pound of flesh, with the provider profit multiplier applied, from all of us who subscribe to cable/sat each and every month. It's ESPN's world; we just live in it.

For the record, I find Keith entertaining for the most part and he's got a pretty good lineup for his inaugural week. I'll probably tune into a few of them.
post #89158 of 93675
Originally Posted by dad1153 View Post

TV Sports
ESPN President John Skipper: 'We Will Continue to Report This Story'
By Marisa Guthrie, The Hollywood Reporter - Aug. 23, 2013

ESPN president John Skipper re-iterated the network's commitment to cover the NFL concussion crisis despite pulling out of a joint project between PBS' Frontline and ESPN's investigative reporters Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada.
Right, as long as whatever you want to report is okayed by the NFL front office first.rolleyes.gif
post #89159 of 93675
Originally Posted by archiguy View Post

Whether you watch it or not, it doesn't matter. The Bristol Behemoth will still get their $5.50 pound of flesh, with the provider profit multiplier applied, from all of us who subscribe to cable/sat each and every month. It's ESPN's world; we just live in it.

For the record, I find Keith entertaining for the most part and he's got a pretty good lineup for his inaugural week. I'll probably tune into a few of them.
Here. Here. It's good to have him back. And happy to know (I read the article at The Hollywood Reporter) how he's mended fences and has bridges "under repair" with past and current network staffers. I've always enjoyed him, either when he was deadly serious (Special Comments) or had tongue firmly planted in cheek (casting the ESPN movie).
post #89160 of 93675
Originally Posted by MRM4 View Post

Yet another program not to watch on ESPN.

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