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Hot Off The Press: The Latest TV News and Information - Page 2979

post #89341 of 93814
Dish, Disney Gird for Showdown Over ESPN


Dish Network Corp. chairman Charlie Ergen has long railed against the high cost of sports on TV. Now he has a chance to do something about it.

Dish's agreement to carry ESPN, the highest profile and most expensive of the national sports channels, expires at the end of September. Dish and ESPN's majority-owner Walt Disney are now in negotiations on a renewal for the agreement, which dates back to 2005.

The talks will also address the fees Dish must pay to carry Disney's other channels, including ABC broadcast stations. As a result, the negotiations will likely revolve around some the pay-TV industry's most contentious issues—broadcast fees and sports costs—even more than Time Warner Cable Inc.'s battle with CBS Corp., which ended just Monday after a monthlong blackout.

"There's an unsustainable pressure in the TV ecosystem, and it's just amplified when it comes to Dish and Disney," said Tony Wible, an analyst at Janney Montgomery Scott.

Mr. Ergen last month already hinted at his willingness to use what some might see as the nuclear option—going without Disney's channels permanently. "Disney is not going to go out of business without Dish Network and vice versa," he told analysts on a conference call.

He added that, taking a "really long-term view," a pay-TV provider could offer TV service without sports channels. "We're prepared to go either way," he added. Dish will try to strike a deal "with Disney that makes sense for our customers." But "if we don't get that deal, we'll part ways."

Dish is looking to "get a fair price" and "be treated fairly," he said, while Disney would like to "increase the amount of money we pay them."

A Disney spokeswoman said, "We continue to have constructive conversations with Dish" and added that "Disney's suite of networks and services are hugely popular with viewers." A Dish spokesman referred to Dish Chief Executive Joe Clayton's comments in August that "we are engaged" with Disney and "moving…to a favorable solution for both parties."

ESPN argues it is helping pay-TV operators retain customers at a time when Netflix Inc. and other online outlets that offer on-demand entertainment programming could provide an incentive for consumers to drop connections. ESPN is "holding the pay television model together," ESPN President John Skipper said in a recent interview.

Further complicating matters is the recent contentious history between the two companies. ABC is one of several broadcasters which have sued Dish over its "Hopper" digital video recorder that allows automatic ad-skipping and automatic recording of prime time broadcast TV. ABC's motion to shut down those Hopper features is pending in a New York federal court.

Earlier this year the two companies fought another acrimonious court battle over a contractual dispute. The case revolved around whether Disney favored other distributors over Dish in its contracts. But it also highlighted Dish's frustration at having to buy a package of ESPN channels including the low-rated network ESPN Classic, which the satellite operator said just 0.5% of customers watch. Dish lost all but one of its claims.

Mr. Skipper said pay-TV packages provide customers a "fabulous value," and said selling channels individually, an idea Dish has backed, wouldn't help consumers. "The strongest channels would have to charge more," he said at an ESPN media event last month.

The stakes are high for both. ESPN and its suite of channels now generate $7.2 billion a year in subscription fees, according to Needham Insights, and are the biggest component of the cable networks unit that generated two-thirds of Disney's operating income in the quarter ended June 29. Dish is the third biggest pay-TV operator, with 14 million subscribers, equivalent to 14% of the homes that currently receive ESPN. ESPN already has agreements in place with seven of the top 10 distributors.

A blackout of any length would be a major challenge when ESPN is already dealing with sagging ratings and competition from the recent launch of 21st Century Fox's new 24-hour sports channel Fox Sports 1, not to mention competition from Comcast Corp.'s NBC Sports and CBS Corp. (21st Century Fox until June was part of the same company as Wall Street Journal parent company News Corp.)

Dropping ESPN would be a tough call for Mr. Ergen. In a survey by Lazard Capital Markets, 35% of respondents said they would cancel their pay-TV service or switch providers if ESPN weren't in the lineup. "No one is going to be a meaningful player in this industry without carrying ESPN," Lazard analyst Barton Crockett said.

Dish, which has already struggled to retain video subscribers in recent quarters, would be especially hurt by accelerated pay- TV cancellations, as it doesn't also sell voice or broadband services competitive with rival cable and phone companies.

Mr. Ergen has played down the long-term negative impact of dropping sports channels. Disney accounts for a "disproportionate share" of Dish's programming costs—well over 40%—but less than 20% of viewing minutes, he told analysts last year. By dropping a sports channel, a pay-TV provider could have a "materially lower price for customers and while they'll lose customers initially, they will gain customers long term," he said last month.

Digital rights are likely a big topic for Disney and Dish, just as they were for CBS and Time Warner Cable. Dish has said it sees value in online streaming rights for Disney's channels, but it is unclear whether it is willing to pay more for them. ESPN disclosed during the court case with Dish earlier this year that it charges Time Warner Cable and Verizon's FiOS 19 cents more per subscriber per month than Dish for carriage deals that include streaming rights, according to a court transcript.

That translates into "millions and millions of dollars" over the course of a year, an ESPN executive said.

post #89342 of 93814
Critic's Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - Sep. 5, 2013

TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

Every Thursday this month, TCM is saluting the movies and legacy of actress Kim Novak. Tonight’s tribute kicks off with a very rare interview with the long-retired Novak, mounted last year as part of a special TCM event. It covers, among other things, how she became a star, how she rebelled, and why she retired so young. TCM host Robert Osborne conducts the interview.

TCM, 9:00 p.m. ET

This 1958 Alfred Hitchcock movie is one of Kim Novak’s greatest film roles – two of them, actually. Jimmy Stewart plays a man obsessed with the memory of a former love, in a role that challenges him to use every bit of his innate likability to keep his character from seeming overly creepy. But Novak, as the object of his desires, is embraced from the start, especially by Hitchcock’s camera views.

USA, 9:00 p.m. ET

Two women in Michael’s life – both of them deadly, and neither of them exactly fond of the other – meet face to face tonight, in a heated confrontation that may not end well for both of them. Especially since this is the penultimate episode of Burn Notice, which means not even the regular characters are completely safe.

Flix, 9:45 p.m. ET

Terry Jones directed this Monty Python’s Flying Circus compendium of sketches and other delightful nonsense, and also appears in the 1982 film’s most memorable, audacious sketch. Opposite John Cleese as an obsequious waiter, Jones plays Mr. Creosote, a gluttonous patron so fat, and so overfed, that the ingestion of “one thin mint” at the end of dinner is enough to… well, see for yourself. But not while you’re snacking.

BBC America, 10:00 p.m. ET

This latest season is only two episodes old so far – but in both of them, the killer has managed to either display or dispatch his victims in startlingly unusual ways. And we’re only at the halfway point, with more episodes tonight and tomorrow – and with Idris Elba, as Luther, already anger that he hasn’t deciphered enough clues to put the murderer away.

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TV Notes
'Biggest Loser': Ruben Studdard asks fans to transform with him
By Rene Lynch, Los Angeles Times' 'Show Tracker' Blog - Sep. 4, 2013

Ruben Studdard says "American Idol" gave him a career. Now, he wants "The Biggest Loser" to give him a life.

Studdard -- nicknamed "The Velvet Teddy Bear" partly for his girth and his cuddly, cheerful, happy-go-lucky demeanor -- said he is returning to reality TV to face the demons that caused him to balloon to 462 pounds.

Studdard, 35, said there is nothing funny about his condition, which includes high blood pressure and a diagnosis that he is borderline diabetic. "I've been a big guy my whole life. This is something I have dealt with since I was 8, or 9, or 10 years old," Studdard told the L.A. Times. "It's time to do something about it."

And he is asking fans and obese Americans to join him on this transformational journey.

"I want the people who have watched me for 10 years to get inspired by what I am doing," he said. "I hope just me being a part of this show, even if I get cut off in the second week, will help them get going."

"The Biggest Loser" unveiled the new crop of contestants Wednesday and announced an Oct. 8 start date for the weight-loss reality show, about to begin its 15th season. This year's theme: second chances.

As usual, there are several twists. Among them: The trainers, who for the first time ever had a say in casting some of the contestants, will each have "saves" -- the all-powerful ability to each save one of the competitors from elimination.

"The Biggest Loser" is known for its heart-breaking stories of people who cloak themselves in excess weight to deal with their pain, and this season is no exception. Among the competitors fighting for a second chance at life is a man who put on 200 pounds while his wife lost her battle with brain cancer, leaving him a single dad of two young children. One competitor postponed his wedding to be on the show, while another "hopes" to miss the birth of his first son. (Missing the birth would mean that he's still at the ranch, in competition for the $250,000 grand prize for the largest percentage of body weight lost.)

In addition to Studdard, the new season of "The Biggest Loser" will include another high-profile cast member in Olympic weightlifter Holley Mangold, who is 24 and weighs 351 pounds. She says she believes she can medal at the 2016 Games in Rio if she can first win her battle with her weight.

But it is Studdard who becomes the highest-profile competitors the show has ever seen, and has the potential to go down in history for winning two prime-time reality TV shows.

Trainer Jillian Michaels said she was looking forward to getting to know Studdard, and tackling his inner emotions. "There's some pain in there, some anger in there, obviously," she said. "You don't get to over 450 pounds without being hurt, and without being angry about it. He doesn't wear it on his sleeve, though. I think of Ruben as an excavation."

Studdard did not try out for the show, like so many competitors do.

"The producers of the show called me and asked me if I had any interest in being on 'The Biggest Loser' and as soon as they called me I was like 'Yeah!' I knew I needed to lose weight. I knew I needed to get healthy."

Part of his personal struggle, Studdard said, is that he never felt pressured about his weight, which allowed him to ignore it.

"I have always been comfortable in my skin," Studdard said. "I've never had any hold backs because of my size. I've always excelled in athletics, excelled in sports, music. But here's the thing: Now that I am 35 and I have high blood pressure and I am borderline diabetic, there's a setback. Now that I am an adult and I can't go to Disney World and I can't go on all the roller coasters -- that's a setback."

Studdard said he wants to turn his weight around -- literally. Instead of 462, he aims to be 264, or lower.

He said that in addition to riding all the roller coasters at Disney World, he has another goal when he losses the excess weight.

"When I get to 264, I'm going to Ralph Lauren and I'm going to get a made-to-measure suit," Studdard said. "I want to look like one of those guys on the Polo.com website."

He added: "It's going to be freeing."

Studdard said he also believes losing weight will help his singing.

"I'm never going to be the run-about-the-stage-doing-Usher-moves type of guy," he said. "I'm a balladeer, I stand behind the microphone. Physiologically, though, your abdomen has a lot to do with your performance." He predicted: "If I can see my abs, and I can look down and tell my abs what to do, I'm probably going to hit all kinds of crazy notes."

Studdard said he does not worry about fans who might like "the bigger Ruben." Instead, he said he's more concerned about the children he hopes to have someday.

"I'm sure there are going to be people who say that about me. But I'm trying to be the best Ruben I can be. I want to be around until I'm 100 years old. I've got some grandchildren to see. I don't want my momma burying me."

Studdard said he has succeeded at losing weight before -- but it always came back.

"For some reason I wasn't able to keep it off. For me, this place is what I need to help me learn how to really turn it into a lifestyle.... I need that extra help, the psychology of how to keep the weight off, because that's the most important thing."

Studdard said viewers can expect him to belt out a tune now and again. "I'm always singing. That's just what I do."

post #89344 of 93814
Originally Posted by VisionOn View Post

And the rest of FXX consists of comedy castoffs that even TBS got tired of running and the same content already on FX.. In 13 weeks when Sunny and The League go off air again, FXX is going to be a barren landscape of reasons to tune in.

I don't think Fox really cares about putting anything worthwhile on. It's all about the higher subscriber fees they can charge the Sat and Cable companies for FXX as well as Fox Sports 1 & 2.
post #89345 of 93814
I don't know what's going on, no posts in 18.5 hours?
post #89346 of 93814
Originally Posted by DrLar View Post

I don't know what's going on, no posts in 18.5 hours?
We're watching football! biggrin.gif
post #89347 of 93814
I guess Dad is on vacation
post #89348 of 93814

More Max, 7:15 p.m. ET

Simon Pegg and company, currently getting enthusiastic reviews for their movie The World’s End, first plied their genre-busting ways almost a decade ago, in this 2004 zombie movie that plays like almost no other – but in its treatment of a group of London slacker buddies fighting against an onslaught of the undead, ended up launching an unlikely but highly entertaining franchise.

CBS, 8:00 p.m. ET

The good news: CBS is devoting two hours of tonight’s prime time to salute public school teachers, in a special hosted by Queen Latifah. The bad news: CBS also is using the special to showcase some stars of its new series, including Anna Faris and Jerry O’Connell, which makes the whole thing seem a little less altruistic.

TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

This 1927 science fiction classic, directed by Fritz Lang, is presented in its most complete, recently restored version. Made at the end of the silent film era, its visuals have influenced sci-fi cinema ever since – and Brigitte Helm, as the robot woman temptress, established an iconic role that’s still a cinematic touchstone. And this dystopian future, by the way, was set at a time Conan O’Brien used to intone ominously: “In the year 2000…”

BBC America, 10:00 p.m. ET

SEASON FINALE: This taut, tense drama, starring Idris Elba as a cop with an obsessive streak, concludes for the season, with him chasing down a killer with an obsessive streak of his own.

TCM, 10:45 p.m. ET

This 1927 film pops in at various times in an imagined future, from 1940 to the still-in-our-future 2036. It’s better at predicting television than certain specific wars, and is way off on the whole flying-cars idea, but the general approach, as a parable and warning, continues to make sense.

post #89349 of 93814
Originally Posted by DrLar View Post

I guess Dad is on vacation

Actually had to do back-to-back shifts at work and some unexpected OT for a super-rushed last-minute job. Worked from 11:30AM Thursday to 2:30PM today (with a short break Thursday night to go home, watch "Big Brother," switch clothes and run back to work). Sorry! frown.gif
post #89350 of 93814
Critic's Notes
10 Awesome (and Awesomely Bad) Nineties TV Shows on Netflix
By Margaret Lyons, Vulture.com - Sep. 6, 2013

The nineties were weird. Not as weird as the eighties, when people ate cocaine for breakfast, but not as normal as the aughts, when only celebrities ate cocaine for breakfast. No, the nineties gave us baggy clothing, sex scandals — and a lot of great television. Some of it is even on instant Netflix right now. Here's a selection of the ten most nineties shows worth revisiting.

1. Melrose Place, seven seasons, 226 episodes
Take a second to realize just how many episodes of a show that is. Today, most network dramas air around 22 episodes per season. Melrose aired 32 episodes per year for most of its run, and 35 episodes in its final season. This is but one of the many amazing things about Melrose Place! The intense hokiness of the show's first season (safe sex, you guys!!!) gives way to the lunatic soapiness of its middle years (people are back from the dead!), which then ebbs into a more traditional soapiness (I'm gonna have an affair with our neighbor). Sometimes it seems like The Real World perfectly captured both the earnestness and the sexual panic of the Clinton years, but Melrose Place is its own kind of wonderful time capsule.

2. Wings, eight seasons, 170 episodes
There's an always-a-bridesmaid vibe to Wings. When it premiered in 1990, it aired Thursdays at nine, after The Cosby Show and Cheers. But after its first mini-season, it was punted around the schedule, ending its run on Wednesdays as the lead-in for The John Laroquette Show. The fact that it was touted as being created by Cheers producers but was never a megahit like Must-See staples Seinfeld, Frasier, and Friends always made Wings seem like an also-ran — which is too bad, since it is pretty great.

3. Seaquest DSV, three seasons, 59 episodes
Jonathan Brandis has a talking dolphin! What more do you want from a pretty terrible undersea adventure series?

4. The Buccaneers, miniseries, four installments
This BBC miniseries is based on the unfinished Edith Wharton novel about new-money American women who travel to England in the 1870s in search of old-money British husbands. Carla Gugino, Mira Sorvino, lots of corsets, and all the longing glances, high-society shenanigans, and long white gloves you'd expect from a Masterpiece Theater period piece.

5. Sliders, five seasons, 88 episodes
Sliders spent three years in relative obscurity on Fox and then moved to full-on obscurity on the then-named Sci Fi Channel. For most of its run, the show starred Jerry O'Connell as a physics grad student (hee) who discovers wormholelike vortexes that allow him — and his pals! — to "slide" between alternate Earths. I won't draw a qualitative comparison, but if you like Doctor Who, you might like Sliders.

6. House of Cards, miniseries, 12 episodes
Oh, everybody lost his or her damn mind over Netflix's new version of HoC earlier this year. But there's a British original, and it is better. It has a similar setup — high-ranking politician named Francis is passed over for higher-ranking position and decides to take down everyone who wronged him — but on account of its Britishness, it is both more evil and more fancy.

7. The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones (a.k.a. The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles), three seasons, 21 episodes (on Netflix, at least — different versions have different edits)
Rare is the movie spinoff that turns into a good TV show, but Young Indiana Jones holds up if you like earnestness (and education) along with your historical adventures.

8. Earth 2, one season, 22 episodes
It's 200 years in the future, and, WALL-E–style, everyone has to live on space stations. One determined mom decides to lead a ragtag group to an Earth-like planet, and things go mostly okay. A lot of really good sci-fi emerged in the nineties. Not Earth 2, though! This falls squarely in the amazo-horrendous category of so-bad-it's-good, particularly the special effects.

9. Ally McBeal, five seasons, 112 episodes
Every few years, a pop conversation about feminism happens around a particular TV show. Right now, that conversation tends to revolve around Girls, but once upon a time, it was about Ally McBeal and the infamous Time magazine "Is Feminism Dead?" cover. By today's standards, the show is more cutesy than provocative, but it's still emotional and compelling, and the courtroom parts in particular really hold up.

10. Twin Peaks, Frasier, The X-Files
These shows have nothing in common except that they are excellent (or at least mostly excellent) and essential. The intrigue and humor feel so timeless that the clunky cell phones and bulky computers are the only clues to the shows' eras. If you somehow made it through the nineties without watching these classics, rid your house and your people of that shame by finally digging in now.

post #89351 of 93814
Technology/Business Notes
Amazon Wants To Offer Its Smartphone for Free. Who Will Follow?
By Amir Efrati, JessicaLessin.com - Sep. 6, 2013

EXCLUSIVE: Which technology giant will be the first to offer a free smartphone? Amazon.com Inc. is making a play.

In a previously unreported move, the online retailer and Kindle maker is considering introducing its long-planned smartphone for free to consumers, according to people familiar with Amazon’s effort.

There are many unanswered questions about the plan and what strings will be attached for customers. One of them is whether Amazon would require its smartphone owners to pay for services such as Amazon Prime, the company’s loyalty program. But the people familiar with the matter said that Amazon wants the device to be free whether or not people sign up for a new wireless plan at the same time. (Wireless carriers typically discount the price of devices if customers sign up for a one- or two-year wireless contract.)

One person familiar with the effort said the company has talked to wireless carriers about offering its phones, though it is expected to offer them directly to consumers through its website. A launch date also is unclear.

The pricing strategy is a big departure from the strategies of incumbents like Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co., whose new flagship phones retail at around $200 with wireless contracts in the U.S. Those companies also offer some older high-end models for free or for just $1, with contracts.

The free strategy isn’t set in stone and depends on several factors, including Amazon’s ability to work out financial arrangements with hardware partners, said one of the people who is familiar with Amazon’s smartphone effort. This person and others expressed skepticism about Amazon’s ability to pull off a free device.

Still, Amazon’s pricing ambition is the clearest indication of its phone playbook: undercut rivals and grab meaningful market share. (An Amazon spokesman declined to comment.)

Apple’s Nightmare

It is also shows that Apple’s worst nightmare may be coming true: prices could fall not just for cheap phones in developing markets but higher-end ones too.

Indeed, for years, Apple and Samsung have been packing their flagship phones with more bells and whistles in order to justify premium prices. And they have been pretty successful. In the past five years, the average price a consumer paid for smartphone that is not subsidized by a wireless carrier dropped just 20% to $343 from $430, according to IDC.

But the game is changing. New smartphone entrants Amazon and Google generate revenue primarily through e-commerce sales and online advertising, respectively. As such, they are more willing than their competitors to sacrifice profit for market share.

Even upstarts like Chinese handset maker Xiaomi, which sells its phones at razor-thin profit margins, says it plans to make money off software like apps and games.
It’s a strategy suited for penetrating developing markets where the iPhone is still too expensive for many people. Such markets, including China and India, will account for about two-thirds of all smartphones shipped this year, up from 43.1% in 2010, according to IDC.

While companies are responding by offering different devices at different prices, it is unclear how long the high end can hold up; today, even smartphones priced around $150 without a contract sport fancy features like powerful cameras and high-resolutions screens.

It’s a far cry from 2007, when the iPhone came out. The device was coveted around the world as a luxury item and started at $499. (That model had a quarter of the memory of the cheapest iPhone 5 you can buy from Apple today.)

But the market has changed and continues to do so. Here’s our take on the major players in the race to lower smartphone prices.


Amazon has been working on a smartphone for at least two years, according to media reports dating back that far. Most recently, the Wall Street Journal wrote that the company was developing two smartphones, including a high-end one that could render three-dimensional images.

One reason it has taken so long: the company struggled to find manufacturing partners that haven’t committed to only producing Android devices approved by Google. And in some ways, packing hundreds of electronic components into a small device like smartphone is more complex than making a tablet.

Like its Kindle Fire tablet, an Amazon smartphone would be powered by a “forked” version of Android, which means that it uses the open-sourced version of Google’s mobile-operating system but doesn’t preload any Google apps. Numerous smartphone manufacturers based in China and elsewhere have signed agreements with Google to only manufacturer Google-approved Android devices, which often include preloaded Google apps.

Offering a phone for free would be a daunting proposition. Amazon would have to find a way to make up for the cost of manufacturing — on average, $200 per smartphone — by steering device owners to shop for goods through Amazon.com and to purchase digital media and apps through its app store. It also sells digital ads and could show them to device owners, something it already does on the lowest-priced model of the Kindle Fire tablet.

Amazon’s smartphone strategy would be similar but perhaps more extreme than the one it used when it entered the tablet market in 2011. However, it’s difficult to determine whether to call the Kindle Fire, which is priced as much as $200 less than some iPads, a success. Some research firms say the Kindle Fire represents double-digit percent of U.S. tablet sales but it doesn’t appear to have slowed down rivals. It has far fewer apps that Google’s Play store and Apple’s App Store. It’s also difficult to determine how much it has juiced Amazon’s sales of digital books and movies and other online goods.


Don’t expect Apple to start offering free phones anytime soon. The company generates 51% of its revenue from iPhone sales. And the planned announcement of a new iPhone next week, including a gold-colored model, show how it is trying to maintain its premium image.

But Apple, the second-biggest smartphone maker after Samsung, is hardly ignoring the trend. Next week, it is planning to announce a new, less expensive iPhone model in addition to a new high-end version. That’s a big change from its approach to less-expensive markets today, which has involved keeping older models on sale for a lower price.


Google also is trying to cut smartphone prices and is considering a number of ways to do so.

Google’s Motorola unit is building a cheaper version of its flagship Moto X device for emerging markets and the fast-growing “prepaid” market in the U.S. And Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside has repeatedly said he wants to push down smartphone prices.

When it comes to Android, Google is trying to ensure that most features of the upcoming “KitKat” version of the mobile operating system will work well for lower-end phones, according to people familiar with the effort. That would be in contrast to recent Android software releases, which have tended to work better for high-end devices, developers say.

Further out, Google has been looking at developing its own microprocessors and low-cost Android smartphones that could connect to next-generation wireless networks, which Google hopes to fund or build in emerging markets, people familiar with the matter have said.


With its plans to acquire Nokia’s handset business, Microsoft’s mobile strategy is getting a reboot. But what Microsoft has done with its existing partnership with Nokia to date might provide some hints of the strategy ahead.

Microsoft’s mobile operating system, Windows Phone, which has a tiny 4% market share globally by some estimates, is making some headway in the lower end of the smartphone market: Low-price “Lumia” smartphones made by Nokia and powered by Windows Phone software have gotten traction in the top five European markets including the U.K., where Windows-based phones surpassed 8% market share during the second quarter, according to Kantar Worldpanel. There also are some positive signs in emerging markets such as Mexico, where Windows Phone devices made up 11.6% of all sales during the same period, the firm said. It noted that the low-priced Lumia devices were particularly attractive to first-time smartphone buyers.

After Microsoft closes the Nokia acquisition, it will put significant marketing resources behind Nokia to boost sales, similar to Samsung’s strategy to outspend rivals in promoting its line of Galaxy smartphones, according to a person with knowledge of Microsoft’s plans.


The global leader in smartphone sales has never ignored the lower end of the market, hence its strong position. It has numerous Android smartphones that are priced below $150 without a contract, and its high-end Galaxy S3 — which launched last year and is one version behind its latest S4 — is available for free with a contract and other promotions through at least one U.S. wireless carrier.

Expect the portfolio approach to continue. Samsung will try to keep a foot in the high-end market as long as it can, while also being very aggressive on the low end.

Huawei, ZTE and Xiaomi

China-based hardware makers have been undercutting Samsung and gaining some market share with phones that cost $130 or less. But some of these companies, including Huawei and ZTE, are trying to expand into higher-priced devices.

One low-price phone contender to watch: Xiaomi. The Chinese manufacturer has exploded with a suite of phones that it sells essentially at cost. That translates to about $130 to $300, without a carrier subsidy. The company, which describes itself as a “mobile Internet company” on its website, says it plans to make money from software and services. Sound like Amazon?

Spokespeople for the phone makers declined to comment, referred us to publicly-disclosed information, or never got back to us.

Amir Efrati and Jessica Lessin are former Tech Beat writers for The Wall Street Journal.

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TV Notes
CW In Talks For ‘Wizard Of Oz’ Drama Produced By ‘Heroes’ Creator Tim Kring
By Nellie Andreeva, Deadline.com - Sep. 6, 2013

EXCLUSIVE: The summer of Wizard Of Oz continues with another sale of a high-profile Oz-themed drama project. I’ve learned that the CW is in negotiations for Dorothy Must Die, a drama from the Heroes trio of creator/exec producer Tim Kring and exec producers Adam Armus and Nora Kay Foster. Written by Armus and Foster with Kring supervising, I hear the project is based on the upcoming young adult novel Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige. It is a revisionist take on the classic tale set in present day, 80 years after Dorothy Gale supposedly came home. In reality, the magically-ever-youthful Dorothy has stayed in Oz, presiding over a now fascist fairyland with her perfectly manicured iron fist and the help of her henchmen – the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion. But when another young woman from Kansas is swept up in a tornado and magically dropped into this war-torn Oz, our hero discovers a revolutionary underground of witches and enchanted beings only to learn that she is destined to lead their people in the fight to reclaim Oz from a power-hungry Dorothy’s ruthless clutches. The book will be published by HarperTeen next April, with digital prequel novella, No Place Like Oz, available now. The property originated at James Frey’s book-packaging company Full Fathom Five, with him and Todd Cohen, President of Film and Television, exec producing alongside Armus, Foster and Kring.

Dorothy Must Die, which is yet to be laid off at a studio, is the fourth Wizard Of Oz TV project sold in the past two months. It joins NBC drama Emerald City, a dark reimagining of the classic tale of Oz in the vein of Game Of Thrones from writer Matthew Arnold, CBS’ Dorothy, a medical soap inspired by the characters and themes from The Wizard Of Oz, and Syfy’s miniseries Warriors Of Oz from director Timur Bekmambetov, a fantasy-action reimagining of the classic story. The great interest in Wizard Of Oz is not entirely unexpected as the title has been getting a lot of attention in conjunction with the upcoming 75th anniversary of the 1939 feature, which will include a 3D re-release of the Judy Garland starrer. It also comes on the heels of the success of Oz The Great And Powerful earlier this year.

The great interest in Wizard Of Oz properties this year comes on the heels of multiple Sleepy Hollow and Beauty And The Beast projects getting developed the last two development seasons. Both times, one of the projects, CW’s Beauty And The Beast and Fox’s Sleepy Hollow, went to series. In addition to Dorothy Must Die, Kring has another project with a writing duo in the works at the CW, a drama about illegal abilities-enhancing pills in American high schools. Heroes alum Zach Craley and Jarrett Conaway are writing. Kring, who most recently created/exec produced Fox drama Touch, and Armus and Foster, who serve as co-exec producers on Fox’s The Following, are with WME.

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WEDNESDAY's fast affiliate overnight prime-time ratings -and what they mean- have been posted on Analyst Marc Berman's Media Insight's Blog

THURSDAY'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)
‘Talent’ is top show but Fox wins night
MasterChef' averages a 2.0 in 18-49s for a two-hour episode
By Toni Fitzgerald, Media Life Magazine - Sep. 5, 2013

Fox won its 13th Wednesday night in the past 16 weeks last night, but NBC had the top show of the evening.

Fox’s “MasterChef” averaged a 2.0 adults 18-49 rating, according to Nielsen overnights, for a special two-hour episode starting at 8 p.m. The show usually airs at 9.

“MasterChef” built from a 1.9 in its first hour to a 2.1 in its second.

But NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” still finished first in the 9 p.m. slot, averaging a 2.3, up 5 percent from last week.

Elsewhere last night, the season finale of ABC’s “The Lookout” at 10 p.m. drew a 1.0, up 43 percent over last week and tying its best rating since June 19.

And CBS’s “Big Brother” also grew week to week, up 5 percent from last week to a 2.2 at 8 p.m.

Fox finished first for the night among 18-49s with a 2.0 average overnight rating and a 6 share. NBC was second at 1.6/5, CBS and Univision tied for third at 1.4/4, ABC was fifth at 1.0/3, Telemundo sixth at 0.5/2 and CW seventh at 0.3/1.

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

At 8 p.m. CBS was first with a 2.2 for “Brother,” followed by Fox with a 1.9 for “MasterChef.” Univision was third with a 1.6 for “Porque el Amor Manda,” NBC fourth with a 1.4 for a repeat of “Talent,” ABC fifth with a 0.9 for an hour of “The Middle” reruns, Telemundo sixth with a 0.4 for “Dama y Obrero” and CW seventh with a 0.3 for an “Arrow” rerun.

NBC moved to first at 9 p.m. with a 2.3 for a new “Talent,” while Fox remained in second place with a 2.1 for more “MasterChef.” Univision was third with a 1.4 for “La Tempestad,” ABC fourth with a 1.1 for reruns of “Modern Family,” CBS fifth with a 1.0 for a repeat of “Criminal Minds,” Telemundo sixth with a 0.6 for “Marido en Alquiler” and CW seventh with a 0.3 for a repeat of “Supernatural.”

At 10 p.m. Univision led with a 1.2 for “Que Bonito Amor,” with CBS second with a 1.1 for a repeat of “CSI.” ABC and NBC tied for third at 1.0, ABC for “The Lookout” and ABC for “Camp,” and Telemundo was fifth with a 0.5 for “Santa Diabla.”

NBC was first for the night among households with a 4.1 average overnight rating and a 7 share. CBS was second at 3.7/6, Fox third at 3.2/5, ABC fourth at 2.5/4, Univision fifth at 1.8/3 and Telemundo and CW tied for sixth at 0.7/1.


* * * *

Nielsen Overnights (18-49)
NBC scores with NFL kickoff game
Averages a 16.2 metered-market household rating
By Toni Fitzgerald, Media Life Magazine - Sep. 6, 2013

NBC drew very strong numbers for the opening game of the NFL season last night, not that it was any surprise.

The network averaged a 16.2 metered-market household rating from 9:15 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., according to Nielsen.

It was the fourth straight year that the kickoff drew at least a 16.0 metered-market rating.

The start of the game between the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens and the host Denver Broncos was delayed for more than half an hour due to lightning in the Denver area.

NBC averaged a 14.9 for the night, becoming the highest-rated Thursday on any TV network since NBC’s coverage of the Olympic Games in August 2012.

Because overnights measure only timeslot data and also do not account for time zone differences, overnight ratings for the game are not accurate. Final numbers will be released later today.

Elsewhere last night, even against the strong competition, CBS’s “Big Brother” surged by 33 percent over last week to a 2.4 adults 18-49 overnight rating at 9 p.m., its best Thursday rating since Aug. 8.

NBC was first for the night with a 9.2 average overnight rating and a 26 share. CBS was second at 1.5/4, Univision third at 1.4/4, ABC fourth at 1.1/3, Fox fifth at 0.5/2, Telemundo sixth at 0.5/1 and CW seventh at 0.2/1.

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

At 8 p.m. NBC led with a 6.9 for football pregame, followed by Univision with a 1.6 for “Porque el Amor Manda.” CBS was third with a 1.4 for repeats of “The Big Bang Theory” and “Two and a Half Men,” ABC fourth with a 1.1 for “Wipeout,” and Fox fifth with a 0.6 for a “Glee” rerun. The CW and Telemundo tied for sixth at 0.3, CW for a repeat of “The Vampire Diaries” and Telemundo for “Dama y Obrero.”

NBC was first at 9 p.m. with a 10.4 for the start of football, while CBS moved to second with a 2.4 for “Big Brother.” Univision was third with a 1.4 for “La Tempestad” and ABC fourth with a 1.1 for more “Wipeout.” Fox and Telemundo tied for fifth at 0.5, Fox for reruns of “New Girl” and “The Mindy Project” and Telemundo for “Marido en Alquiler.” The CW was seventh with a 0.2 for a repeat of “America’s Next Top Model.”

At 10 p.m. NBC was first again with a 10.4 for football, with Univision second with a 1.1 for “Que Bonito Amor.” ABC was third with a 1.0 for “Rookie Blue,” up 11 percent over last week. CBS placed fourth with a 0.8 for a repeat of “Elementary” and Telemundo fifth with a 0.6 for “Santa Diabla.”

NBC also finished first for the night among households with a 13.7 average overnight rating and a 22 share. CBS was second at 3.8/6, ABC third at 2.3/4, Univision fourth at 1.8/3, Fox fifth at 1.1/2, Telemundo sixth at 0.7/1 and CW seventh at 0.4/1.

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TV Notes
Alec Baldwin Officially Joins MSNBC
By Tim Kenneally, TheWrap.com - Sep. 6, 2013

Alec Baldwin has officially joined the MSNBC family.

The late-night show “Up Late w/Alec Baldwin” will begin in October and air Fridays at 10 p.m., the network said Thursday.

MSNBC president Phil Griffin made the announcement about the current events and culture talk show, noting that he’d been “talking with Alec for a while.”

“I’ve been talking with Alec for a while and can’t wait to bring his personality and eclectic interests to MSNBC,” Griffin said. “He’s got such passion for ideas and what’s going on in the world — he’s going to be a great addition to our line-up.”

Former “30 Rock” star Baldwin isn’t completely new to the hosting game; he’s held court on the WNYC podcast “Here’s the Thing” since 2011, interviewing personalities ranging from David Letterman to Dick Cavett.

“After two seasons of my WNYC podcast, I’ve developed a fondness for hosting a show that involved talking with smart, talented and engaging people in every imaginable field,” Baldwin said of the new gig. “I’m grateful to MSNBC for helping me bring a similar show to television.”

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Nielsen Notes (Cable)
‘It’s Always Sunny,’ ‘The League’ Hold Most of Audience on FXX
By Rick Kissell, Variety.com - Sep. 6, 2013

New night, new network, no problem for “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and “The League.”

The veteran comedies officially launched new network FXX on Wednesday night and retained most of their audience — even though the new channel is in 26 million fewer homes than their former network, FX.

The shows have cult followings, but it was no guarantee that audiences would show up for their season premieres on a new night and network. Viewers had to track down FXX, which is replacing Fox Soccer on most major cable systems, and also remember that the comedies are now airing on Wednesday, instead of Thursday.

According to Nielsen estimates, the ninth-season premiere of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” averaged 648,000 adults 18-49 and 757,000 viewers overall in the 10 o’clock timeslot — down from the 809,000 and 1.05 million it drew for its opener in October of last year.

But in men 18-34, “Sunny” impressively bested its premiere of last year (396,000 vs. 366,000).

“The League” had a good fifth-season premiere, building on its “Sunny” lead-in. Its 687,000 adults 18-49 was down just 6% from its year-ago 732,000, and its overall audience of 786,000 was within 13% of last year’s 907,000.

FXX wanted to avoid putting its male-skewing comedies on opposite NFL action, which runs on Thursdays from September through mid-December. But in shifting the former FX comedies to Wednesday on FXX, that meant they’d go head to head with firstrun FX dramas — “The Bridge” now and “American Horror Story” next month.

Last night’s episode of “The Bridge” averaged about 690,000 adults 18-49 (a 0.54 rating) and 1.65 million viewers overall, roughly in line with recent weeks.

FX has said that one of the ways it is looking at differentiating the original network with FXX is that the latter would have a slightly younger skew. That was indeed the case on Wednesday, where the comedies on FXX fared best among men 18-34, while the drama on FX had its best rating in men 25-54.

On Wednesday in the 10 o’clock hour, FXX outdelivered ABC, CBS and NBC in adults 18-34 and men 18-34, FXX’s target demos.

Post-primetime on FXX, “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell” averaged 137,000 adults 18-49 as the former weekly series on FX expanded to a nightly one with its move to the new network. It averaged about 280,000 in the demo with its last weekly cycle.

FXX had a soft launch Sunday with a marathon of “Parks and Recreation” but Wednesday marked its first original programming. In addition to last night’s series, FXX also has the return of comedy “Legit” coming up, and it will bow new animated cmedy “Chozen” in January.

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TV/Business Notes
The Power Rangers remain mighty after 20 years
By Brian Truitt, USA Today - Sep. 6, 2013

Through three presidents, the dance crazes of the "Macarena" to the "Harlem Shake," the coming and going of Ricky Martin, and the advent of the Internet, the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers have remained, well, mighty in kid pop culture.

With a hearty cry of "Go Go Power Rangers!" various live-action versions featuring superpowered teenagers in color-coordinated outfits saving the world have been in continuous production and broadcast since the first airing on Aug, 28, 1993. And that's a lot of rubber monsters, folks.

"It was an incredible experience to see that phenomenon grow like that. And it's similarly surreal to be talking 20 years later," says Elie Dekel, the president of Saban Brands, who oversaw marketing and promotion for Saban Entertainment when Mighty Morphin Power Rangers first launched.

"It was quite a remarkable experience then and even now, when kids are connecting with the show as they did back then a generation or two later."

Saturday afternoon (at 1 ET/PT) sees the debut of new episodes of Power Rangers Megaforce that will air on Nickelodeon through the end of the year. They'll lead to an all-new Super Megaforce series premiering in 2014.

For those who want to embrace the full history of Power Rangers, Shout Factory is releasing a comprehensive 98-DVD Power Rangers Legacy: The First 20 Seasons collection on Dec. 3. Fans can preorder beginning Tuesday online — the set, packaged in a Red Ranger helmet and limited to 2,000 copies, will retail for $650.

Power Rangers have always had a presence offscreen as well, from toys to Halloween costumes, and there's quite a few things geared toward the 20th anniversary this fall. In addition to a Megaforce video game for the Nintendo 3DS (out Nov. 5), Power Rangers Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit board games are on the way as well as limited-edition collectibles such as a gold morpher.

Unlike other franchises, Power Rangers was an overnight success, mainly because there was nothing else like it at the time and it was so different, according to Dekel.

Saban founder Haim Saban was first inspired to do Power Rangers after sitting in a hotel room in Japan and seeing children's shows with monsters and robots. He pitched it for years, Dekel recalls, but it wasn't until 1992 when he found support from Fox Kids that he could try it.

"It was either going to be something phenomenal and a great hit, or we were going to be humbled by the experience," Dekel says. 'We saw in our early testing of the show how kids would respond. There was this glazed look on their face and raptured attention to every second of these episodes, and we recognized we had something special."

Even before Power Rangers, Saban had the No. 1 kids show of 1993 with its X-Men cartoon — done in partnership with Marvel — and bought a billboard on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles to proclaim the Rangers' arrival with the phrase "They're coming to save the world."

The Red Ranger (Austin St. John), Black Ranger (Walter Emanuel Jones), Blue Ranger (David Yost), Yellow Ranger (Thuy Trang) and Pink Ranger (Amy Jo Johnson, who would later star on Felicity and Flashpoint) first burst onto the scene fighting the alien Rita Repulsa and won their time slot with their premiere episode.

Within a few episodes, it was the highest-rated kids show, according to Dekel, with one episode of the first season generating a 98 share — meaning 98 percentage of households with TVs were tuned at some point — "which Nielsen had never recorded before," he says. "When they published it, they had to asterisk it saying they were looking into the data because it was something they hadn't seen."

The children who watched it then didn't have tablets and smartphones at the ready to explore more Power Rangers anytime they wanted — Dekel has watched their audience change dramatically, especially in the past decade, in the way it consumes media.

"When Power Rangers premiered, its sweet spot was kids 6 to 11 with a 10-year-old being in the bull's-eye," Dekel says. "It's still 6 to 11, but that bull's-eye is more a 6- or 7-year-old."

The DNA of the actual show, though, has stayed pretty much the same, he adds. "These are aspirational young heroes who are empowered to save the world. That combined with good vs. evil and themes of teamwork, making good choices and helping others have been very consistent over the years."

The Rangers are revered when they show up live at schools, kids hospitals, parades and even Comic-Con by kids and the adults that grew up super fans. The upcoming Super Megaforce series speaks to that generational appeal, according to Dekel: An alien invasion threatens Earth, and the heroes are able to call upon the powers and capabilities of legendary Rangers from years past.

"Because each Ranger has different capabilities, skills, weaponry and costumes, Super Megaforce is going to be loaded with that integration of our legacy, our history and our greatest moments, brought to today's audience," Dekel explains. "It will introduce them to the fact that the Power Rangers they love today come with a canon that is very deep and rich, and I believe will engage kids to explore that even further."

The many loyal stalwarts of Ranger Nation will probably tune in.

"One of them tweeted, 'Twenty years ago today, I watched Power Rangers with my brother and it changed my life. Today I'm going to watch Power Rangers with my son,' " Dekel says. "It is a message that even now puts shivers down my spine."

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Legal/Business Notes
TV Broadcasters Granted Injunction Against Alki David's TV Streaming Service
By Eriq Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter's 'Hollywood, Esq.' Blog - Sep. 5, 2013

Television broadcasters scored a big win on Thursday by getting a federal judge in the nation's capital to grant a near-nationwide preliminary injunction against FilmOn X, a TV streaming service that has been compared to Aereo. The ruling is a significant one that could go a long ways towards eventually setting up a Supreme Court showdown over whether the relaying of over-the-air TV signals to digital devices constitutes a transmission "to the public" and a violation of broadcasters' public performance rights.

Fox, NBCU, Disney/ABC, Allbritton Communications and Telemundo filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Alki David's TV digital distribution services in Washington D.C. federal court in May.

In the ruling today, U.S. District judge Rosemary Collyer writes that she has considered the 2nd Circuit's decision to affirm the denial of an injunction against Aereo, but found the Barry Driller ruling "more persuasive." That's in reference to a California judge who had also granted an injunction against David's service, then called BarryDriller.

"This Court concludes that the Copyright Act forbids FilmOn X from retransmitting Plaintiffs' copyrighted programs over the Internet," adds the judge. "Plaintiffs are thus likely to succeed on their claim that FilmOn X violates Plaintiffs' exclusive public performance rights in their copyrighted works. Because there is no dispute of fact between the parties—indeed, each has won and each has lost in a different forum on these same facts—the Court will grant Plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction."

In a statement about the ruling, Fox Broadcasting commented, "We are pleased, but not surprised that that the court recognized that the commercial retransmission of our broadcast signal without permission or compensation is a clear violation of the law. This decision should finally put the matter to rest, and will hopefully discourage other illegal services from attempting to steal our content."

FilmOn X allows consumers to watch live and recorded television over the Internet. After being sued in DC, the company told the judge that its technology is "similar... in every relevant way" to Aereo insofar as it too offers an array of small antennas that are assigned to a specific, individual user. These antennas capture local television signals and deliver video and audio to FilmOn's users.

One of the big questions for Judge Collyer is how to square this technology with what was deemed legal in a case concerning Cablevision's remote-DVR. In 2008, an appellate court had blessed Cablevision's technology because "each RS-DVR playback transmission is made to a single subscriber using a single unique copy produced by that subscriber ... such transmissions are not performances 'to the public.'"

Courts grappling with TV streaming technology have reviewed whether it's analogous to Cablevision's and have come to different conclusions about copyright law, and specifically, the Transmit Clause. Judge Collyer rejects the notion that she has to make a binary choice between the reasoning in Aereo and the reasoning in BarryDriller, but does spend a good deal of her 35-page decision (read in full here) discussing what was previously said by other judges on the topic.

Eventually, she takes guidance from the Supreme Court to give broadly written statutes a broad interpretation.

"The Court finds that the provisions of the 1976 Act that protect Plaintiffs' work are clear," she writes. "FilmOn X's service violates Plaintiffs' 'exclusive right... to perform the copyrighted work publicly.' By making available Plaintiffs' copyrighted performances to any member of the public who accesses the FilmOn X service, FilmOn X performs the copyrighted work publicly as defined by the Transmit Clause.'"

She adds, "The Transmit Clause, which applies whether 'members of the public capable of receiving the performance or display receive it in the same place or in separate places and at the same time or at different times,' also plainly captures FilmOn X's DVR-like capabilities."

The judge also addresses FilmOn X's argument that it does not perform publicly because the service facilitates a one-to-one relationship between a single antenna and a viewer.

First, she doesn't buy it.

She writes, "While each user may have an assigned antenna and hard-drive directory temporarily, the mini-antennas are networked together so that a single tuner server and router, video encoder, and distribution endpoint can communicate with them all... This system, through which any member of the public who clicks on the link for the video feed, is hardly akin to an individual user stringing up a television antenna on the roof."

And second, she thinks it's encompassed in the law at question.

She says, "Congress intended 'device or process' in the Transmit Clause to include 'all kinds of equipment for reproducing or amplifying sounds or visual images, any sort of transmitting apparatus, any type of electronic retrieval system, and any other techniques and systems not yet in use or even invented.'"

All of this adds up to the judge's conclusion that the broadcasters are likely to win the case. Together with a finding that broadcasters are likely to suffer irreparable harm, it means a preliminary injunction. What's also notable is the breadth of the ruling. While the judge in California who reviewed Alki David's technology was careful about extending an injunction to jurisdictions that might not agree, this judge has ordered a sweeping injunction.

"The Court's decision conflicts with the law of the Second Circuit under Aereo II," admits Judge Collyer, agreeing to extend the injunction to everywhere in the United States except the 2nd Circuit (which covers New York, Connecticut and Vermont).

The circuit split is one of the primary reasons why this dispute -- as well as the Aereo one -- seems primed to go to the Supreme Court for final resolution. In the meantime, the 9th Circuit is all set to come out with yet more legal wisdom on the legality of antennae-based TV streaming services. Last month, the appellate judges there heard arguments on whether or not to overturn the injunction issued by a California judge on Alki David's service. Today's ruling is certainly not the last word and won't as Fox suggests put the matter to rest, but it is an important development that muddies the water for TV streaming upstarts.

Regardless, Alki David is taking the development in stride. The colorful billionaire says, "We are still in many other cities across the USA. We are opening Philadelphia on Monday. We will win DC back on appeal. You mad Nets? Yes you so mad."

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Originally Posted by dad1153 View Post

Legal/Business Notes
TV Broadcasters Granted Injunction Against Alki David's TV Streaming Service
By Eriq Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter's 'Hollywood, Esq.' Blog - Sep. 5, 2013

YES go to the Supreme Court & quit messing around already
Let's hit the reset button & see where the chips fall . wink.gif
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Originally Posted by dad1153 View Post

Technology/Business Notes
Amazon Wants To Offer Its Smartphone for Free. Who Will Follow?
By Amir Efrati, JessicaLessin.com - Sep. 6, 2013

EXCLUSIVE: Which technology giant will be the first to offer a free smartphone? Amazon.com Inc. is making a play.

In a previously unreported move, the online retailer and Kindle maker is considering introducing its long-planned smartphone for free to consumers, according to people familiar with Amazon’s effort.


Go Jeff Bezos, I've always been a big Amazon fan since day one. All of a sudden living in a small town, wasn't a detriment to accessing all the goodies, and at great pricing.
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TV Review
‘Secret Sex Lives: Swingers’
For a good time, there may be better places to go than Discovery's uneasy new series on infidelity
By David Hinckley, New York Daily News - Sep. 6, 2013

Just so no one thinks a reality show on partner-swapping would amount purely to an exercise in voyeurism, “Swingers” is loaded with information that those outside the swinger community might not have previously known.

When couples meet to check each other out, which is how it works for the four Atlanta area couples on this show, they have several options.

They also have code for each.

If the parties say they “want dessert” at the end of the get-acquainted dinner, that means it’s on. No mention of dessert means mission aborted.

There are also options within “dessert.” A “soft swap” means fooling around. A “full swap” means going all the way, as they used to say in high school.

There are also ancillary codes. A “unicorn,” for instance, is a single female who joins a couple. She’s called a “unicorn” because hardly anyone ever sees her.

Beyond the educational element, “Swingers” mostly feels uncomfortable.

It’s difficult, for instance, to shake the question of why people would participate in a show like this. How badly could anyone want to be on TV?

It’s also clear that several participants, particularly the women and particularly one woman named Rebecca, feel some ambivalence about the deal. Given her druthers, you sense Rebecca would rather be married and monogamous.

Rebecca and her fiancé Chris disagree, for instance, on whether they should “swing” on their honeymoon. She says no, he says why not.

It’s a little sad.

Otherwise, even if some of these couples have as much fun as they say, you keep coming back to the question of why they feel the need to strut it on television.

There are stories untold here, and they don’t feel all that appealing.

'Secret Sex Lives: Swingers'
Network/Time: Saturday, 10 p.m., Discovery Fit & Health
Rating: ★★ (out of five)

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TV Review
‘Miami Monkey,’ boobs in the sun
VH1 show will appeal to viewers who delight in squabbles
By Tom Conroy, Media Life Magazine - Sep. 6, 2013

Reality shows set in workplaces often feature attractive young women who have recently been hired to work in subordinate positions. In these cases, it’s painfully obvious that the women’s real function is to provide eye candy for viewers.

VH1′s new reality show “Miami Monkey” at least has a reality-based excuse for its newly hired hotties: They’re meant to attract customers to the newly opened bar in which the show is set.

Nonetheless, everything else they do or say seems to have been designed to provoke the tedious catfights that are the hallmark of almost all reality shows featuring groups of women. The ostensible star, a made-for-reality-TV New Yorker named Big Ang, whose outsize personality, lips and chest should set “Miami Monkey” apart, is kept mostly in the background. Only viewers who are starving for more screaming and finger pointing are likely to find this show entertaining.

In the premiere episode, airing this Sunday, Sept. 8, at 10 p.m., Big Ang, a featured player on VH1′s “Mob Wives” and the star of the channel’s “Big Ang,” relocates from Staten Island to Miami’s South Beach in order to open a branch of her bar, the Drunken Monkey. In one of those arrangements that happen only on reality TV, Ang’s daughter Raquel will commute down on weekends to serve as manager.

Ang and Raquel are also bringing down a group of young female friends and relations to work in various posts at the bar. Ang’s local hires are the handsome Nate, whose duties at the bar remain vague, and Morgan and Cristina, two striking model types who Ang thinks will draw customers.

Ryan, a friend of Raquel’s who will work as the head bartender, doesn’t appreciate the possible competition from Morgan. She questions Morgan’s qualifications and warns her that she’ll be responsible for any shortfall in the till.

“This blond tomboy keeps interrogating me like she’s in the FBI,” Morgan tells the camera. “This isn’t Staten Island; this is South Bitch, ho.”

The New Yorkers get a reason to be hostile when Morgan and Cristina are late for work on the bar’s opening day. Ang and Raquel send the others to hand out free-shot coupons on the beach.

Gabby, who is the girlfriend of Ang’s son A.J., with whom she shares a bedroom in Ang’s house, balks at wearing the suggested outfit: a bikini with a monkey logo on one of the cups. Raquel asks her, “What did you get your boobs done for if you don’t want to show them?”

When Morgan and Cristina finally show up, Ryan lays into them, and Raquel sends them out on Ocean Drive to promote the opening. Taking Gabby along with them, they instead stop for an al fresco lunch at what seems to be a tranny bar.

Roxanne, a friend of Raquel’s who is the Miami Monkey’s weekday manager, tracks them down and yells some more. Morgan says she doesn’t mind because she thinks she is winning Gabby over to her side.

Whether any of this conflict occurred naturally is a question that few viewers seem to care about, if one judges by the popularity of all the reality shows on basic cable that feature even less plausibly motivated battles between screaming women.

Ang, whose imposing physical presence and husky baritone would make her a perfect combatant, stays above the fray. She calmly explains to Morgan and Cristina that they need to listen to the managers.

Ang and Raquel do a little shtick about how Raquel is the responsible one, but it fizzles out uneventfully.

Though the Miami girls are eye-catching and the Staten Island girls are often comically crude, they’re not enough to make the show stand out.

An episode-ending montage with scenes from upcoming shows is full of more conflict, including a possible love triangle between Ryan, Nate and Morgan. In other words, the producers aren’t monkeying around with the usual reality formulas.

Reality TV can sometimes start to feel like a fast-food chain, with the only variation being location. As long as viewers keep settling for the same old same old, they’re going to keep getting it.

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TV/Business Notes
Bold Play by CBS Fortifies Broadcasters
By Bill Carter, The New York Times - Sep. 7, 2013

Leslie Moonves, the longtime chief executive of CBS, has heard the jokes about CBS being old and out of step because of the age of its audience and because it does not have enormous assets in the cable network world.

But in one area, CBS and Mr. Moonves have led to a shake-up in the broadcast world that could be labeled revolutionary: the issue of compensation for retransmission rights. Before almost anyone else in the business, Mr. Moonves effectively pushed for distributors to pay fees to the broadcast channels just as they do to cable networks.

The result has been a windfall for all the broadcasters and a crucial lifeline as audiences continue to shrink.

“One of the things people misjudged about CBS was the growth potential,” Mr. Moonves said in an interview. “We were considered a low-growth company: how are they going to grow this business? This was one of our keys. We were going to get paid for retransmission, and that’s how we were going to grow.”

The most recent fight — a high-noon showdown between CBS and Time Warner Cable — ended this week the way all recent confrontations between big broadcasters and cable operators have ended, with the cable operator pulling out a checkbook instead of a gun.

The fight was longer — 32 days — and nastier than either side expected. The network had never before seen its stations go dark in a fee dispute. The two sides traded blows in full-page newspaper ads, and Time Warner Cable even offered some subscribers free antennas. (Time Warner Cable executives declined to comment.)

In the final deal, the cable provider will pay CBS a hefty increase in fees for the right to retransmit the signals of its stations in big cities like New York, Los Angeles and Dallas — a reported rise to $2 per subscriber over the next five years, more than double the network’s previous deal with Time Warner Cable.

At the same time, CBS rejected demands that it give up the opportunity to sell separately its content to digital outlets like Amazon and Netflix, insuring another bountiful revenue stream, likely to be worth hundreds of millions a year.

CBS projects that by 2017 it will take in $1 billion annually in retransmission payments. David Bank, an analyst with RBC Capital markets, said that the figure could easily go to $2 billion.

To further underscore the advantage for CBS, the company’s stock price shot up 6 percent in the first two days after the settlement. (The CBS network, along with the company’s television production arm, interactive division and a half-share of the CW network, made up about 55 percent of total revenue.)

“I just knew how valuable our content would be,” said Mr. Moonves, who last year received total compensation of $62.2 million, making him the country’s highest-paid media executive. “People kept saying cable is a better business because they have a dual revenue stream. I felt strongly we should be as well.”

Mr. Moonves credits Chase Carey, the chief operating officer from News Corporation, and the acquisition of NBC by Comcast, the nation’s biggest cable operator, for the move toward big fee increases for broadcasters. But Mr. Banks says that CBS has been the unquestioned leader.

“I do think the other broadcasters have a pretty big debt to pay to Les,” he said.

One longtime rival network executive, who asked not to be named, said, “If anyone was going to break the code on retransmission it was going to be Les and CBS.”

Their success is a culmination of a long campaign, which Mr. Moonves began in 2005. At that point, CBS had no cash compensation from cable operators. Viacom, then CBS’s corporate owner, had decided to split its television assets, sequestering its lucrative cable networks, like MTV and Nickelodeon, from CBS, then considered a low-to-no-growth burden on its stock price.

The plan to demand cash won Mr. Moonves a chorus of derision from cable executives, who had long pledged almost a blood oath never to pay broadcasters cash as compensation for retransmission rights. At one industry gathering, a senior cable executive, whom Mr. Moonves preferred not to name, approached him, angry, shaking his finger at him, telling him he would never get a penny for retransmission rights.

“They resisted it,” Mr. Moonves said. “There were a lot of people saying the same old thing: you’re a network, you should not get paid.”

CBS had already been slammed down in a previous confrontation with cable operators in 1993, when its previous owner, Laurence W. Tisch, tried to get cash for its broadcast signals. Under Mr. Moonves, CBS started with modest requests for cash from small cable operators. Early deals were for less than 50 cents a subscriber. But that established the principle that some operators would pay.

“It built over time,” Mr. Moonves said.

Mr. Moonves noted that CBS had recently concluded a new fee agreement with Verizon FiOS in just 72 hours.

“I think life will be easier for both sides of retransmission in the future,” he said.

The value of retransmission fees has also been cited as a significant factor in recent megadeals for local television stations by groups like Sinclair Broadcasting and Tribune Media. “People are suddenly saying, ‘My gosh, look how valuable stations are,’ ” Mr. Moonves said. “I’m happy we own 27 of them.”

Retransmission rights became so valuable that CBS and the other networks were also able to change the terms of their deals with affiliated stations. In the past, networks paid stations to carry their programs. Now CBS receives a fee from its affiliates, taking a percentage of the money the stations win in their own transmission deals with cable operators and other distributors.

Cable operators have tried to seek relief from government, asking the Federal Communications Commission to mediate disputes and looking to roll back the legislation that allowed networks to demand retransmission fees. But even with price increases driving up the cost of watching television, most analysts see little likelihood that government will intervene in the near future.

Mr. Bank said, “It would take a major legislative agenda and that’s very unlikely from a practical perspective.” The only real risk going forward for CBS, he said, would be “consumer behavior and life changes.”

The chief threat is consumers’ dropping cable subscriptions, known as cord-cutting, or à la carte pricing for networks. But because CBS does not bundle its network with a host of smaller ones, as most television companies do, that would be less a threat to CBS.

“Even in a bad scenario they outperform,” Mr. Bank said. “It’s good to be them right now.”

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

7:30PM - NASCAR Racing - Sprint Cup: Federation Auto Parts 400 (LIVE)

8PM - NCIS: Los Angeles
(R - Oct. 2)
9PM - 48 Hours
10PM - 48 Hours

8PM - American Ninja Warrior (120 min.)
(R - Sep. 2)
10PM - Do No Harm (Series Finale)
* * * *
11:29PM - Saturday Night Live (Bruno Mars hosts and performs; 93 min.)
(R - Oct. 20)

7PM - College Football: West Virginia at Oklahoma (LIVE)
* * * *
11PM - Animation Domination High-Def (60 min.)

(check your local listing for starting time/programming)
8PM - Austin City Limits: Esperanza Spalding (R - Feb. 23)

8PM - Sábado Gigante (3 hrs.)

7PM - Movie: Killerz (2010)
9PM - Fútbol Mexicano Primera División: Club León vs. Jaguares de Chiapas (LIVE)
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FRIDAY's fast affiliate overnight prime-time ratings -and what they mean- have been posted on Analyst Marc Berman's Media Insight's Blog
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TV Sports
Tokyo to Host 2020 Summer Olympic Games
By Todd Spangler, Variety.com - Sep. 7, 2013

Tokyo won the vote for 2020 Summer Olympic Games on Saturday, beating out two other finalists Istanbul and Madrid.

The Japanese capital city previously held the Summer Olympics in 1964, while the 1998 Winter Games were in Nagano, Japan. Tokyo, which had pitched its host bid as “a safe pair of hands,” won the International Olympic Committee’s final-round vote over Istanbul after Madrid was eliminated earlier.

In the U.S., NBCUniversal will telecast the Tokyo games, which will be its eleventh consecutive Olympics (and 17th overall) and the last under its current pact with the IOC.

“Tokyo is one of the world’s most fascinating cities, and will provide a spectacular setting for the 2020 Olympic Games,” NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus said in a statement. ”Tokyo is particularly special to NBC as our rich Olympic heritage began there with the 1964 Olympic Games. We are excited to return in 2020… to bring the stories and performances of the world’s greatest athletes home to American viewers.”

NBCU’s coverage of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London registered as the most-viewed TV event in U.S. history. Across the company’s broadcast and cable networks, the London Games reached 219.4 million viewers in the States, up from 215 million for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.

Tokyo — the first Asian city that will have hosted the Summer Olympics twice — has a population of about 13.2 million across the metro area.

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Critic's Notes
McNamara's Picks: 'Last Tango in Halifax,' 'Boardwalk Empire,' more
By Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times

"Last Tango in Halifax" -- The best new show of the fall is a rapturous mix of absurdly fairy-tale-romance and frantic modern complications, set in the sylvan drear of Yorkshire and brought to life by masterfully shaded performances.

“Last Tango in Halifax ” tells the story of a widow and a widower who reconnect via Facebook and quickly rekindle a romance that never quite happened. But time, and her grim attendant's age and infirmity, are not the only obstacles this new/old love must face.

Alan (Derek Jacobi) lives with his daughter, Gillian (Nicola Walker), and his grandson, Raff (Josh Bolt), on a sheep farm James Herriot might have serviced. His early love, Celia (Anne Reid) is part of a very different sort of life (i.e. class.). Celia also lives with her daughter, but Caroline (Sarah Lancashire) is, in addition to mothering two sons, the fiercely ambitious head of a prestigious private school.

Needless to say, neither daughter knows quite how to react to the sight of each other, much less the true love newly ignited in their Aged Parents. But true love it is, deftly and heartbreakingly captured by Jacobi and Reid, performers capable of doing more with a startled look or careful smile than most actors can do in seven pages of dialogue.

Fortunately, "Last Tango" is not all loving glances and relived memories. Though different as chalk and cheese, Gillian and Caroline share a propensity for drama and ill-advised romances that comes in mighty handy, plot-wise. Many things happen, often in laughably quick succession, during the six episodes of “Last Tango” (another season, hurrah, is already in the works) but they are well anchored by the sight of parent and child moving along similar journeys of discovery.

With aplomb bordering on the miraculous, creator Sally Wainwright captures the contradictory, infuriating and glorious mess that is family. PBS, 8 p.m., Sundays

"American Masters: Billie Jean King" -- Forty years ago, Billie Jean King defeated Bobby Riggs in the most famous tennis series in American history. Dubbed the Battle of the Sexes, the matches made tennis the breakthrough sport of women's athletics and King a nationally recognized symbol of the women's movement.

The victory also capped King's decades-long fight for women's equality, both on and off the courts, which is the topic of James Erskine's excellent documentary.

A California girl whose parents believed in equality for all and, she says now, "walked the walk," King's early athletic talents had no real outlet until she found tennis.

The sport, she noticed almost immediately, was the most elitist of all, but it was one she made her own, using her success to fight for equal pay, a women's circuit and girls' athletics in general.

Despite an unquenchable spirit and a seemingly unstoppable career, all did not run smoothly for King; after the victory over Riggs, she was outed via a palimony suit. She lost all her endorsements but reclaimed her life, becoming an activist for gay rights.

Drawing from clips, interviews with King as well as her brother and ex-husband, tennis peers and her many fans (including former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton), Erskine traces the evolution of an icon. Or at least thus far. At 70, King claims she still has one more big thing in her and, as the film points out, the woman tends to mean what she says. PBS, 8 p.m. Tuesday

"Boardwalk Empire" -- Nucky (Steve Buscemi) is back, having won the war against homicidal bootlegger Gyp Rosetti (Bobby Cannavale). But the underworld of post-prohibition Jersey still roils with tension, villainy and, on more than one occasion, sheer brutal stupidity.

Heavy on mood and light on character development, early episodes of Season 4 rely too often on violence and sex, and sexual violence, to prop up a story that wanders where it should stride.

Still, Buscemi remains the thinking man's mobster, and Nucky's alliance with Chalky (Michael Kenneth Williams) deepens, the themes of race relations if only in the criminal world.

Also, this season introduces Jeffrey Wright as Dr. Valentin Narcisse, a Harlem gangster with very definite opinions on race, and I'll watch Jeffrey Wright in just about anything. HBO, 9 p.m. Sundays

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TV Notes
If ‘Million Second Quiz’ Succeeds, NBC Gets the Grand Prize
By Brian Stelter, The New York Times - Sep. 7, 2013

Pop quiz: what does broadcast television need right now?

Ask NBC, and the answer will be “The Million Second Quiz,” a groundbreaking competition that will start on Monday night and end 10 days later — the online component is 10 consecutive 24-hour days — with the presentation of what the network calls the biggest guaranteed pot of money in game show history. Whether that’s the right or wrong answer will be determined when the ratings start to come in.

At a time when shrinking network audiences are the norm, the “Quiz” is already winning attention for the scale of its ambitions, as symbolized by the three-story arena that has taken shape in the Clinton neighborhood of Manhattan, where the game will be played. In keeping with the million-second theme, it has the appearance of a gigantic hourglass; its sheer size almost says, “AMC and Netflix and YouTube can’t do this!”

After its debut on Monday, “Quiz” will be broadcast on NBC for an hour a night, every night, until Sept. 19, with one break for “Sunday Night Football.” In some ways, it is a throwback to a long-ago era when families would gather around the television set for big prime-time game shows. According to NBC, there hasn’t been a live game show scheduled in prime time since the 1960s.

Back then, though, viewers could only shout answers at the TV. Now, they can play along at home with an app. And when the game is not being played on TV, it will continue as a live, continuous stream on NBC.com.

Contestants, some of whom will be picked to compete on the basis of their Internet play, will take turns sitting in the “money chair,” where every second spent answering trivia questions is worth $10. Correct answers help them reach Winners Row, an area on the set where the five best players will live and sleep (and keep answering questions, lest they be kicked out of the top five) until the million seconds are up.

“This is the Olympics of quiz,” said Stephen Lambert, the British television producer who offered the idea to Paul Telegdy, NBC’s president of alternative and late-night programming. In the pitch, Mr. Lambert described the game “almost like a tennis match between two contestants.” After all, nothing attracts more viewers to broadcast television than big sporting events. That’s partly why the “Quiz” will try to look and feel like such an event, with its open-air setting.

Since the quiz show isn’t taped like, say, “Jeopardy,” some questions will be about the day’s news. “You might be asked, ‘President Obama signed what into law this morning?’ ” said the executive producer, David Hurwitz. Other questions will be asked by celebrities — inevitably, NBC celebrities. (“If there’s a question about the weather, who better to ask it than Al Roker?” Mr. Telegdy said.) On the final night, the final contestants on Winners Row will vie for a grand prize that could theoretically top out at $10 million, though it’s likely to be closer to $5 million.

Executives at NBC haven’t actually said this, but they clearly want the “Quiz” to be nothing short of a national event — the kind of big-ticket, must-see spectacle that turns up less and less often on the broadcast networks. To that end, the executives have hired Ryan Seacrest to host and have spent tens of millions of dollars to promote the game show this summer. They say that even some of their typical rivals might be caught rooting for it: Mr. Telegdy said a “competitive éminence grise from elsewhere in TV land” — he wouldn’t name the person — had sent him a well-wishing e-mail that said bluntly, “We all need this right now.”

The producers are aware that comparisons to the blockbuster ABC show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” are probably inevitable (though there is no phone-a-friend option on this show). “Millionaire,” hosted by Regis Philbin, wowed the television industry when it drew 10, 20 and sometimes even 30 million viewers in 1999 and 2000. It continues to chug along in syndication, now with Cedric the Entertainer as the host. One difference is that “Millionaire” was already a proven hit in Britain when it arrived in the United States; “Million Second Quiz” will start stateside first. If successful, it will spread around the world.

In a telephone interview, Mr. Telegdy said that “the line will probably go dead, and a robot will eject me from my seat” if he uttered a specific ratings prediction. But his noncommittal answer was telling in and of itself: the goal, he said, is to “get people talking about NBC.”

Once upon a time, that network didn’t have to try hard to achieve that; now it does. So its parent company, Comcast, is having all of its various properties support “Quiz” through ads, guest appearances, reports on newscasts and the like — a strategy that it calls “symphony” and that was previously applied to the singing competition “The Voice.”

Mr. Seacrest, who is best known for hosting Fox’s “American Idol” and who also has a wide-ranging contract with NBC, said that after he heard the initial pitch from Mr. Lambert and Mr. Telegdy, the NBCUniversal chief executive, Steve Burke, called him to reiterate how important the “Quiz” was going to be. Mr. Burke also did so in an e-mail to every employee of the company on Wednesday.

“There is already a lot of great buzz, and we think there is a chance ‘The Million Second Quiz’ could really break through,” Mr. Burke wrote.

NBC is hopeful that starting “Quiz” slightly ahead of the fall television season — which doesn’t officially get under way until Sept. 23 — will benefit both the game show and the new series that the network will introduce later. The logic works like this: there is relatively little competition next week, giving “Quiz” a better shot at being sampled by the public; if the show catches on, then all of NBC’s ads for new series like “The Blacklist” and “The Michael J. Fox Show” will be seen by many more people, and giving away $5 million or $10 million will feel like money well spent.

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

7PM - America's Funniest Home Videos
(R - May 12)
8PM - Shark Tank
(R - Sep. 21)
9PM - Secret Millionaire (Season Finale)
10PM - Castle
(R - Apr. 22)

7PM - 60 Minutes
8PM - Big Brother SD
9PM - Unforgettable
10PM - The Mentalist
(R - Apr. 28)

7PM - Football Night in America (Season Premiere, 80 min., LIVE)
8:20PM - NFL Football: New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys (LIVE)

7PM - NFL Football: Regional Coverage (continued from 4:20PM, LIVE)
7:30PM - The OT (LIVE)
8PM - The Simpsons
(R - Apr. 14)
8:30PM - Bob's Burgers
(R - Apr. 21)
9PM - Family Guy
(R - Feb. 17)
9:30PM - Family Guy
(R - Feb. 10)

(check your local listing for starting time/programming)
8PM - Last Tango in Halifax (Series Premiere)
9PM - Masterpiece Mystery! Silk (120 min.)

7PM - Aquí y Ahora
8PM - La Rosa de Guadalupe
9PM - Sal y Pimienta: Especial de Mira Quien Baila (120 min.)

6:30PM - Movie: Home Alone (1990)
8:30PM - Movie: Iron Man 2 (2010)
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Critic's Notes
Fall is near and so is TV's new crop of syndicated shows
By Rob Owen, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Sep. 6, 2013

CULVER CITY, Calif. -- On an expansive set that is, appropriately, fit for a queen, Queen Latifah surveys her kingdom for "The Queen Latifah Show" (4 p.m. weekdays, WPCW, beginning Sept. 16).

With two-story faux marble walls, wood accents throughout and a two-chair chat area near a fireplace, this set designed by Lenny Kravitz's company looks like it was built to last.

But in TV, a show's longevity is in the hands of viewers. If they tune in, "The Queen Latifah Show" will be around for a while; if they do not, this expensive-looking set will be broken down for scrap by May.

During a late July visit to the Sony studios where the show is taped, Queen Latifah said her goal is not to be the next Oprah Winfrey, the most popular daytime TV host of all time.

"Oprah is Oprah, and she's still being Oprah in case anyone hadn't noticed," Queen Latifah said. "Obviously there are great things she accomplished and I'd love to be able to accomplish some of those things, but I think what I bring to television is me. I'm Queen Latifah. I've had a different life story and a different path that I've traveled."

Her premiere week guests on this multi-topic talk-variety show will include John Travolta, Jamie Foxx, Sharon Stone and Will Smith, who has a stake in the series, which is produced by, among others, Overbrook Entertainment, Mr. Smith's company with wife Jada Pinkett Smith.

"She's very funny, she's very witty, she's very intelligent, she has a lot of heart, and I'm in agreement with her, I think what we're missing today is heart in this platform," Ms. Pinkett Smith said, seated on a couch next to Queen Latifah. "Latifah to me, when we did the research on her, she is across the board; from 3 to 80, women, men, kids, she is extremely likable. For us, it was just a win. I couldn't think of any talent, besides Latifah -- besides the fact that she's my friend -- I couldn't think of anyone else that could win in this space besides Latifah."

"The Queen Latifah Show" isn't the only high-profile syndicated series airing on WPCW. A reboot of "The Arsenio Hall Show" will air at 11 p.m. weeknights on Channel 19 beginning Monday.

There's much more late-night competition now than when Mr. Hall's first late-night show ended its five-year run in 1994, so much so that he joked about following in the footsteps of ABC's Jimmy Kimmel and NBC's Jimmy Fallon.

"I actually was down at the courthouse today. I'm trying to change my name to Jimmy because I think Jimmy Hall would work a lot better," he said at a press conference this summer during the Television Critics Association summer press tour. "Obviously, back in the day I was trying to take anything that was left over on [Johnny] Carson's plate. It's a huge challenge this time to bring people to the television. But I know that everybody doesn't have a [favorite] late-night host. One of the biggest challenges for all of us as late-night hosts is to get people to even make an appointment to watch TV and not say, 'I'll watch Fallon yodel tomorrow,' because you have that ability to Google anything and find anything that's been on."

Viewers tuning in shouldn't expect any radical changes from Mr. Hall's first late-night effort.

"It's kind of the same Arsenio," he said. "Less hair, less shoulder pads but [still] inserting myself into this culture of music, comedy, pop.

"Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" moved this week from WPXI to 1:30 and 3 p.m. weekdays on WPCW with new host Cedric the Entertainer, who follows previous "Millionaire" hosts Regis Philbin and Meredith Vieira.

"I just mainly wanted to be as sharply dressed as Regis and hug and kiss as many people as Meredith," Cedric joked during TCA. "And so those are the things that I'll take from the two of them. Meredith was also very passionate, very kind to the contestants, where she paid a lot of attention to them. And I think that Regis, he just kind of jumps out with a lot of wit, which you need."

Cedric the Entertainer was inspired by Steve Harvey's ability to breathe new life into "Family Feud" as its host.

"Seeing other comedians who have done it, from Drew Carey switching over doing it [on 'The Price Is Right'], Wayne Brady [on "Let's Make a Deal"] and Jeff Foxworthy [on multiple series], a lot of those guys motivated me to look at this as a great opportunity to do something fun and exciting," Cedric said.

WPCW will also air "Cops Reloaded" at 1:30 and 2 a.m. weekdays beginning next week. Reruns of "White Collar" (8 p.m. Saturday) start Sept. 28, and reruns of "Glee" begin airing at 5 p.m. Sept. 29 and 1 a.m. Sept. 30.

A new scripted drama, "SAF3" (pronounced "Safe"), will air at 3 a.m. Sunday starting Sept. 22. "SAF3" is from a "Baywatch" producer and stars J.R. Martinez ("Dancing With the Stars") and Dolph Lundgren as members of an elite unit of the Malibu Fire Department whose specialty is sea, air and fire rescues.


Those "White Collar" reruns will also turn up late-night Saturday (2:05 a.m. Sunday) beginning Sept. 29.


Channel 53 adds two new daytime series, "The Test" (10 a.m. weekdays beginning Monday) and "Paternity Court" (3 and 3:30 p.m. beginning Sept. 23).
Turns out they're kind of the same awful-sounding show. "The Test" uses DNA and lie detectors to settle paternity disputes; "Paternity Court" uses DNA tests for rulings on paternity in a courtroom setting.


Channel 22 adds the syndicated newsmagazine "America Now" (11 p.m. weekdays beginning Monday) hosted by Leeza Gibbons and Bill Rancic. The show bills itself as a "news you can use" program with upcoming episodes devoted to sextortion and cyber crimes (Monday), dog attacks (Tuesday), an oxycodone shortage and hairstyling tips (Wednesday) and tanorexia (Thursday).

"America Now" will be followed by "OK! TV" (11:30 p.m. weeknights beginning Monday), a celebrity news/gossip show.

In addition, WPMY will air "Bridezillas" reruns at 3 and 3:30 p.m. weekdays beginning Sept. 16.

Starting the week of Sept. 16 Channel 22 will offer a new evening lineup that includes reruns of "Community" (5 and 5:30 p.m.), "Modern Family" (6 and 7 p.m.) and "The Middle" (6:30 and 7:30 p.m.). "Community" reruns will also air on Comedy Central beginning with a 10-episode marathon at noon Sept. 15 and continuing with a four-episode block at 9 p.m. Friday starting Sept. 20.


Bethenny Frankel became famous through reality shows -- "The Apprentice: Martha Stewart," "The Real Housewives of New York City," "Bethenny Ever After" -- which made her a tabloid magnet, so, naturally, now she has her own talk show.

"Bethenny" (11 a.m. weekdays starting Monday) comes to Channel 11 as a multi-topic talk show with an upbeat vibe, perhaps thanks in part to one of the show's executive producers, Ellen DeGeneres.

"Bethenny" first aired as a test show last summer in some of the country's top markets, but this new version will be tweaked somewhat from its trial run.

"There's some things that I thought that didn't work," Ms. Frankel acknowledged at a summer press conference. "We came out of the gate and there was a lot of sex.

There will be [talk of] sex on the show, because I think it's something that women are going through whether they're having it or not having it. But there's so much more to mention, and so many more things that I learned about women, and what they're asking me for, and what we can share together along the way, whether it's helping them to get their business ideas off the ground, or talking about just the guilt of what being a mom is."

This week Channel 11 re-aligned its afternoon lineup by expanding its noon news to one hour, followed at 1 p.m. by "The Doctors." The fourth hour of "Today" moved to 2 p.m.

Reruns of "Dog the Bounty Hunter" will air at 3 a.m. Sunday and 2:30 a.m. Monday beginning the weekend of Sept. 21 on WPXI.


Earlier this year NBCUniversal announced "Steve Harvey" would get an upgrade in several markets, including Pittsburgh, for its second season.

Turns out, that's not happening anymore. The show will continue to air on WTAE at 1:07 a.m. weekdays.

Of local note

MTV's "Scrubbing In," formerly titled "Nurses," will debut at 10 p.m. Oct. 24. The docu-series follows traveling nurses working at a hospital in Orange County, Calif., including five of the nine cast members who are from Western Pennsylvania.

Next week Pittsburgh's WPCB, CornerStone TeleVision, will debut "Real Life" (9 a.m. weekdays), a live locally produced daytime chat series that mixes music, interviews, health tips, relationship advice and conversation on current events.

New CTVN president Don Black will host the program, and co-hosts will include Teri Black, Norma Bixler, Arlene Williams, Amy Schafer, Anna Frye and Amanda Brougher. In addition, Ms. Williams will host new "At Home" cooking segments every Tuesday.

'9/11' tapes

As the Sept. 11 anniversary draws near again, several networks are planning programs tied to the attacks, but one with a different approach is Smithsonian Channel's "9-11: The Heartland Tapes" (8 p.m. Sunday).

The program has no narration or interviews but stitches together the story of Sept. 11, 2001, using video from local TV stations across the country. No video from Pittsburgh stations is used but there are images from WTAJ-TV in Altoona.

Smithsonian Channel is carried locally by Comcast (Channel 123/915HD in traditional Comcast systems, Channel 119/915HD on former Adelphia systems), Verizon's FiOS TV (Channel 134/634HD) and on DirecTV (Channel 565). It is not carried by DISH Network or Armstrong Cable.

Channel surfing

This week HBO's "The Newsroom" star Jeff Daniels tweeted that the series has been renewed for a third season, which HBO confirmed but suggested there are still some timing issues to be worked out for when the third season will go into production and air. ... Actor Alec Baldwin ("30 Rock") will host a new 10 p.m. Friday MSNBC talk show, "Up Late w/Alec Baldwin," which is expected to debut in October. ... HBO finally canceled "True Blood," which will end after a final season airs in 2014. ... A&E has canceled "The Glades" after four seasons. ... The series finale of USA's "Burn Notice" is slated to air at 9 p.m. Thursday. ... The seventh season of "Foyle's War" comes to "Masterpiece Mystery!" at 9 p.m. Sept. 15 on PBS. Episodes will be available for streaming the day after broadcast at www.acorn.tv and will be on DVD and Blu-ray on Sept. 24. ...Jenny McCarthy makes her debut as a regular co-host of "The View" on Monday. ... HBO has ordered a pilot episode of a new series based on the 1973 Yul Brenner film "Westworld" from J.J. Abrams' production company. ... CNN reactivates "Crossfire" and adds "AC360 Later" on Monday. ... WQED's Chris Fennimore will celebrate 20 years of cooking shows at 10 a.m. Sept. 21 with "Return of the Zucchini." ... Production is expected to begin in Pittsburgh Monday on A&E's crime drama series "Those Who Kill," starring Chloe Sevigny. The pilot filmed locally last December, and the series will premiere on A&E in 2014.

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