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Hot Off The Press: The Latest TV News and Information - Page 3032

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Nielsen Notes
November sweeps: Winners and losers
Winners: Music awards shows, veteran comedies and 'Scandal'
By Toni Fitzgerald, Media Life Magazine - Nov. 27, 2013

Sweeps stunting is nowhere near as over-the-top as it was years ago, when Brad Pitt would guest on “Friends,” a half-dozen main characters would be killed off, and shows were super-sized.

But there was one form of stunting that was a clear winner this November sweeps: Music awards shows.

ABC drew huge ratings for both the Country Music Awards and the American Music Awards.

The CMAs, which aired Nov. 6, averaged a 4.7 adults 18-49 rating, according to Nielsen, up 24 percent over the previous year. They also averaged 16.8 million total viewers, soaring 23 percent over the previous year and becoming the most-watched CMAs in four years.

This past Sunday, the AMAs saw even bigger gains, up 32 percent in 18-49s, to a 4.5, and 36 percent in total viewers, to 12.9 million.

Like most awards shows, the CMAs and AMAs rise and fall depending on the popularity of the artists being honored, and this year the telecasts featured such hot performers as Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus, sparking the higher numbers.

In addition to singing shows, here’s a look at the sweeps’ other winners and losers. The four-week period, used to set local stations’ ad rates, wraps up Wednesday night.


Veteran comedies

CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory,” now in its seventh season, was the No. 1 scripted series among 18-49s during sweeps, while ABC’s “Modern Family” (five seasons) and CBS’s “How I Met Your Mother” (nine seasons) finished among the top five scripted shows.

By contrast, only one new comedy, CBS’s “The Millers,” was among the month’s top 20 shows.

ABC’s ‘Scandal’

The third-year show has become ABC’s No. 1 drama this season, and it’s seen impressive gains compared to last season. Season to date, “Scandal” is up 68 percent, making it TV’s fastest-growing veteran show.

CBS’s Wednesday night

The network’s Wednesday schedule is amazingly consistent. Every show on the night is at least nine seasons old, and yet CBS still won two of three Wednesdays among 18-49s during sweeps, finishing behind ABC only on the Wednesday the network aired the CMAs.

NBC’s Monday night

The network won every half hour of every Monday night during sweeps with “The Voice” and “The Blacklist.”


Toss this drama anywhere on the schedule, including the Friday dead zone, and it still does okay. In its second week airing on Friday, “Bones” jumped 25 percent and won its timeslot.


NBC’s Thursday

NBC’s Thursday night is as weak as its Monday night is strong. Last week not one show drew higher than a 1.2 in 18-49s, giving it the lowest weeknight average for any Big Four network.


Good thing the fourth-year CW show was only brought back for a handful of episodes this year. It posted a mere 0.2 adults 18-49 rating in its premiere Friday, becoming the lowest-rated Big Five non-rerun of the season. The CW did have something to give thanks for, though: It will finish sweeps up slightly year to year in 18-49s, women 18-49 and men 18-34.

Most new shows

There are a couple of exceptions; NBC’s “The Blacklist” is dominating its timeslot and Fox’s “Sleepy Hollow,” CBS’s “Millers” and ABC’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” are still top-20 shows. But there are a lot of new programs that are struggling mightily, including nine that posted a 1.4 rating or below in 18-49s last week.

Fox’s Tuesday

No wonder the network is tearing up its Tuesday comedy block at midseason. No show is averaging more than a 2.0, and it’s possible only one, “New Girl,” will be renewed.

ABC’s Sunday 10 p.m. timeslot

It’s about to get yet another new occupant after new drama “Betrayal” bombed during sweeps. Five new shows have cycled through the hour since “Brothers and Sisters” left, all of them now canceled, including “Betrayal.”

* * * *

In broadcast ratings for the week ended Nov. 24:

Among adults 18-49
, NBC was first for the week with a 2.6 average rating and a 7 share, followed by ABC at 2.3/7, Fox at 2.0/6, CBS at 1.9/5, Univision at 1.3/4, CW and Telemundo at 0.6/2, ION at 0.3/1, UniMás at 0.2/1, Estrella, Me-TV, Bounce TV and Azteca at 0.1/0 and MundoFox at 0.0/0.

Top five English-language Big Five shows (18-49s): 1. NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” 9.8; 2. Fox’s “The OT” 5.7; 3. CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” 5.3; 4. ABC’s “American Music Awards” 4.5; 5. NBC’s “Football Night in America” 4.4.

Top five English-language Big Five shows (total viewers): 1. NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” 26.48 million; 2. CBS’s “NCIS” 19.66 million; 3. CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” 18.94 million; 4. Fox’s “The OT” 16.02 million; 5. CBS’s “NCIS: Los Angeles” 14.99 million.

Show on the rise: ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” Monday, 8 p.m. The reality competition grew 18 percent week-to-week among 18-49s, from a 1.7 rating to a 2.0.

Show on the decline: CBS’s “The Amazing Race” Sunday, 8 p.m. The long-running reality show posted a 1.6 among 18-49s, off 20 percent from a 2.0 the previous week.

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Pioneering Broadcast Journalist Florence Sando Manson Dies at 95
By Mike Barnes, The Hollywood Reporter - Nov. 26, 2013

Florence Sando Manson, a pioneering female newscaster on radio and local television who became a broadcasting legend in Pittsburgh, died Monday at her New York home from complications related to dementia. She was 95.

Survivors include her husband of 60 years, Arthur Manson, a consultant for Harvey and Bob Weinstein since 1990 who before that served as the head of marketing for Warner Bros.

In an era when female broadcasters were expected to keep their shows light, gossipy and frothy, Sando tackled the hard news of the day in a Steel City career that ran from 1941-59.
She produced Women’s Angle, a 15-minute morning radio broadcast that delivered news of the world -- not the typical low-brow mix of fashion and decorating tips dished out to female audiences at the time.

“It was easy when the news was about Madame Chiang Kai-shek or the 10 best-dressed women or Eleanor Roosevelt or [Maine] Sen. Margaret Chase Smith or Oveta Culp Hobby [the first secretary of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare],” Sando told author Lynn Boyd Hinds in the 1995 book, Broadcasting the Local News — The Early Years of Pittsburgh’s KDKA-TV.

“But when the story was about some returning prisoners from Indochina or a Supreme Court ruling on desegregation, then I would have to introduce it with some ridiculous little line that seemed to indicate that it related to women, and then I would get into the story as it was.”

She cooperated with government, civic, social and cultural agencies in support of the war effort during World War II and presented stories and interviews that contributed to Pittsburgh’s postwar development.

Later, she married Arthur and hosted The Florence Manson Show on KDKA (the former WDTV, the city’s first television station) from 1957 until 1959, when she and her husband moved to New York. Her shows were committed to public service as well as entertainment.

She interviewed such well-known public figures such as Roosevelt, Danny Kaye and Louis Armstrong, and some of her work can be seen at the Paley Center for Media in New York.
Her pivotal role in television in the years just before the start of the women’s rights movement was noted by author Patricia Bradley in her 2004 book, Mass Media and the Shaping of American Feminism 1963-1975.

Sando was born in 1918 and graduated from Westminster College in 1939. She received her master’s degree in drama from Case Western Reserve the following year.
In New York City, she was active in theater and community affairs. She was a member of the boards of the Ensemble Studio Theatre and Riverdale Neighborhood House and an elder of the Riverdale Presbyterian Church.

In addition to her husband, survivors include her daughter Cynthia Ann and her husband Jeffrey Faville and their children James and Catherine, and her son Anthony, his wife Angela and their children Daniel, William and Timothy.

A private family burial will take place this week, with a memorial set for 11 a.m. on Dec. 7 at Riverdale Presbyterian. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be sent to the church at 4765 Henry Hudson Parkway West, Bronx, NY 10471.

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Washington Notes
Sen. Rockefeller asks FCC to delay backing deals between TV stations
By Joe Flint, Los Angeles Times' 'Company Town' Blog - Nov. 26, 2013

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), chairman of the powerful Senate Commerce Committee, wants the Federal Communications Commission to hold off on approving any big television deals until a report on consolidation in the broadcasting industry is released.

A frequent critic of media consolidation, Rockefeller recently asked the Government Accountability Office to study the growth of so-called "shared service agreements," which is basically when one broadcast station in a market operates another station that it does not technically own.

Media watchdogs contend that some broadcasters, such as Baltimore-based Sinclair Broadcast Group, use shared service agreements to get around FCC rules limiting the number of TV stations one company can own in a particular market.

In a letter to new FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, Rockefeller wrote, "given the current questions about the impact of SSAs on the broadcast landscape, the FCC should approach each of the pending transactions cautiously."

Although Rockefeller did not mention any specific companies or deals he is concerned about, Sinclair has acquisitions pending at the FCC that include shared service agreements. The Belo-Gannett deal, which is also awaiting approval, includes such agreements.

Rockefeller concluded his letter to Wheeler by saying, "I will be watching your actions closely to make sure that your review of media ownership activity properly comports with diversity, localism, and ultimately the public interest."

Free Press, an advocacy group that has been critical of shared service agreements, praised Rockefeller's letter.

"We're thrilled that Senator Rockefeller is calling attention to this issue," said Matt Wood, policy director of Free Press. "Fake owners shouldn't hold real broadcast licenses. For too long the FCC has turned a blind eye while broadcasters have grown their empires at the expense of local viewers."

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Critic's Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - Nov. 27, 2013

NBC, 8:00 p.m. ET

One week from tomorrow, NBC will mount a live staging of the Rodgers and Hammerstein stage musical, starring Carrie Underwood as Maria, Audra McDonald as Mother Abbess, and Stephen Moyer, the brooding vamp from HBO’s True Blood, as Captain Von Trapp. Tonight, a peek into the preparation and rehearsal process – and a one-hour promotion for next week’s special.

Disney Channel, 8:00 p.m. ET

The Toy Story trilogy concludes for now, with tonight’s prime-time Disney showing of this 2010 animated film. But only for now, because Toy Story 4 is in production at this very moment. But enjoy Toy Story 3, in the meantime, for the prominent role it gives to Barbie, whose voice is provided by Jodi Benson, who also gave voice to Disney’s Ariel in The Little Mermaid. As for Ken, his voice is provided by a much more veteran talent: Michael Keaton.

AMC, 8:00 p.m. ET

’Twas the night ’fore Thanksgiving, and all through the house, people grabbed their remotes, searching for something to watch that might interest the entire family. Well, here’s an unusual but interesting choice: a prime-time showing of this 1939 cinematic blockbuster, starring Vivian Leigh, Clark Gable, and a sweeping Civil War saga that will look great on high-definition widescreen TV.

TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

Here’s a family movie for a family gathering night. The husband is charming but persistently driven, the wife is supportive beyond all logic, father figures abound – and the simple act of playing catch can turn into something that can draw tears. At least from the male members of the TV audience tuned in. Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan, James Earl Jones and Burt Lancaster star.

NBC, 9:00 p.m. ET

This is one of three SNL holiday compilation specials to appear in as many months: Halloween in October, Christmas in December, and tonight, a cornucopia of Thanksgiving sketches, served up as a pre-turkey day treat. Personally, I’ll watch, and love, the special for one moment in particular: Paul Simon’s 1976 appearance in a ridiculous turkey suit, making fun of his image as “Mr. Alienation” by being enough of a good sport to wear, quite skeptically, an absurdly feathered costume while singing “Still Crazy After All These Years.” This is one vintage sketch rerun I can’t wait to gobble up.

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TV/Business Notes
Country Music Deal Pairs Clear Channel and CMT
By Ben Sisario, The New York Times - Nov. 27, 2013

With country music ascendant as one of the strongest genres in the music business, the radio giant Clear Channel Communications has announced a partnership with the country cable television channel CMT that will involve cross-promotion on the two companies’ various media platforms, and Clear Channel taking over the distribution of a popular CMT radio show.

The deal, announced Tuesday, calls for both companies to develop and share programming, giving Clear Channel access to a well-known country brand and CMT wide distribution on the radio as well as through Clear Channel’s online outlets like its iHeartRadio app. Clear Channel has 125 country stations, which it says reach 89 million listeners each month; CMT says it is available in 92 million subscriber households.

The changes that will come as a result of the deal highlight the competition between Clear Channel and Cumulus Media, which has about 70 country stations and has been building its own multimedia country brand, Nash. Cumulus’s effort began in January when it introduced WNSH (94.7 FM), the first country station in New York in 17 years, and its Nash brand has spread to about a third of Cumulus’s country stations, with further plans to introduce related video content and a magazine.

As part of the deal announced Tuesday, Cody Alan, a CMT personality, will take over “After MidNite,” a popular nightly radio show syndicated by Clear Channel’s Premiere division, whose longtime host, Blair Garner, left in June to become WNSH’s morning host. Another show, “CMT Radio Live With Cody Alan,” which had been syndicated by Cumulus, will come to Premiere. Both changes take effect in January, and Mr. Alan will also host a one-hour weekend show, with details to be announced, according to the announcement from Clear Channel and CMT, which is owned by Viacom.

Helped by a generation of telegenic, pop-leaning young acts like Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood and Luke Bryan, country music has been enjoying a renaissance. According to Nielsen SoundScan, country was one of the few genres to see an increase in album sales last year — it was up 4.2 percent, compared with losses of 17.6 percent for Latin and 11.4 percent for rap; half of the top 10 albums last year were country, with Ms. Swift’s “Red” No. 2 for the year, behind Adele’s “21.”

Country has also proved strong on the radio. According to Arbitron, a ratings service recently bought by Nielsen, country is the most popular radio format in the United States, with nearly 2,893 stations and a 14.2 share among listeners aged 12 and up, based on data from last fall that was released in May. (News and talk radio, with 3,984 stations, had an 11.4 share.)

“Country is enjoying a big moment,” Brian Philips, the president of CMT, said in a statement. “Clear Channel and CMT will capture it, celebrate it and spread the excitement across America to hundreds of millions.”

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TV Notes
Best tube bets this weekend
The top draws on broadcast and cable and in sports
By Louisa Ada Seltzer, Media Life Magazine - Nov. 27, 2013


Best bet on broadcast
: NBC, “Saturday Night Live Thanksgiving” 9 p.m.
Reliving some of the most memorable Thanksgiving-themed sketches in the show’s history.

Best bet on cable: Esquire Network, “The Getaway” 9 p.m. Season finale. “Saturday Night Live’s” Seth Meyers and his brother, Josh, visit Amsterdam.

Top sporting event: ESPN, “College Basketball,” 10 p.m. Championship game of the Maui Invitational between No. 8 Syracuse and No. 18 Baylor.


Best bet on broadcast
: ABC, “Lady Gaga & The Muppets’ Holiday Spectacular,” 9:30 p.m.
New holiday special in which the Muppets sing duets with Lady Gaga, Elton John, RuPaul and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Best bet on cable: Science, “Punkin Chunkin 2013,” 8 p.m. First half of a two-part special covering this year’s competition, in which teams of engineers attempt to launch pumpkins the farthest.

Top sporting event: Fox, “NFL Football,” 12:30 p.m. The Green Bay Packers try to keep their playoff hopes alive versus division rival Detroit.


Best bet on broadcast
: CBS, “Garth Brooks, Live From Las Vegas,” 9 p.m.
Live concert special featuring the country star in his final performance at the Wynn.

Best bet on cable: Nickelodeon, “Jinxed,” 7 p.m. Original movie in which a teenage girl and her little brother try to reverse her family’s bad luck.

Top sporting event: Fox Sports 1, “College Football,” 7 p.m. The annual “Civil War” rivalry game between No. 13 Oregon and Oregon State, which dates back to 1894.


Best bet on broadcast
: CBS, “College Football,” 3:30 p.m.
No. 1 Alabama, gunning for its fourth straight national title, travels to No. 4 Auburn in one of rivalry weekend’s best matchups.

Best bet on cable: Lifetime, “Dear Secret Santa,” 8 p.m. For those who don’t want to spend their weekend watching pigskin, there’s a Lifetime original movie starring Tatyana Ali, best known for playing Ashley on “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.” (No, Will Smith won’t be appearing in this.)

Top sporting event: ESPN, “College Football,” 7:45 p.m. In a game with Bowl Championship Series implications, No. 21 Texas A&M faces No. 5 Missouri.


Best bet on broadcast
: CBS, “The Amazing Race,” 8 p.m.
In the season’s penultimate episode, the teams eat snake in Indonesia. Better than eating crow, right?

Best bet on cable: AMC, “The Walking Dead,” 9 p.m. Mid-season finale. Yeah, this fourth-season fall ender is all anyone’s going to be talking about for the next few days. Use your DVR judiciously.

Top sporting event: NBC, “Sunday Night Football,” 8:20 p.m. This game between the 4-7 New York Giants and 3-8 Washington Redskins looked a lot more interesting 12 weeks ago.


* * * *

Cable Overnights (18-49)
‘MNF’ slides but still tops cable ratings
By Media Life Magazine Staff - Nov. 27, 2013

Though it was down from last week, ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” still dominated the cable ratings on Monday night.

The game drew 13.16 million total viewers, according to Nielsen overnights, off 17 percent from last week’s contest, which averaged a season-high 15.77 million viewers.

Monday’s decline was undoubtedly tied to the quality of squads competing. The San Francisco 49ers (7-4) dispatched the struggling Washington Redskins (3-8) with ease, a week after the 8-3 Carolina Panthers and 8-3 New England Patriots faced off in a game with playoff implications.

“MNF” posted fewer viewers than ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” which topped the night with 14.6 million.

But it was the highest-rated show of the evening on broadcast or cable in adults 18-49, posting a 4.9 rating.

VH1’s “Love and Hip Hop” was the highest-rated non-sports show of the night in the demo, posting a 1.7.

* * * *

The night’s top cable programs:

1. ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” (8:27 p.m.) 4.9; Tie-2. ESPN’s “SportsCenter” (11:32 p.m.) and VH1′s “Love and Hip Hop” (8 p.m.) 1.7.

Total Viewers: 1. ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” (8:27 p.m.) 13.16 million; 2. USA’s “WWE Raw” (8 p.m.) 4.32 million; 3. USA’s “WWE Raw” (9 p.m.) 4.29 million.

post #90937 of 93656
Originally Posted by Fastslappy View Post

IIRC the Pats vs Bronco on Sunday was the highest ever for Sunday nite football on NBC

It was their highest rated november game ever.

In a wierd ratings thing last weeks chiefs/broncos game actually had more viewers 26,947,000 than broncos/pats 26,483,000 but had a smaller rating 16.6 vs 17.0.

The highest rated/most watched SNF ever was last year cowboys (of course biggrin.gif) /redskins game with an 18.3 rating / 30,281,000 viewers.
post #90938 of 93656
Originally Posted by dad1153 View Post

TV Notes
Best tube bets this weekend
The top draws on broadcast and cable and in sports
By Louisa Ada Seltzer, Media Life Magazine - Nov. 27, 2013

* * * *

Cable Overnights (18-49)
‘MNF’ slides but still tops cable ratings
By Media Life Magazine Staff - Nov. 27, 2013

The game drew 13.16 million total viewers, according to Nielsen overnights, off 17 percent from last week’s contest, which averaged a season-high 15.77 million viewers.

Thats wrong.

15,772,000 isnt a MNF season high its actually 3rd.

1. 16,524,000 eagles/redskins week 1
2. 16,102,000 bears/packers week 9

The #1 show last night was Rudolph beating the DWTS finale the voice & shield !!

You would think everyone would have it on blu/dvd by now but i guess Clarice still has that drawing power too. smile.gif
Edited by dcowboy7 - 11/27/13 at 9:16am
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TUESDAY'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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Critic's Notes/TV Sports
College Athletes: The Key Ingredient in TV’s Bountiful Thanksgiving Food Chain
By Rich Lowry, Variety.com - Nov. 27, 2013

Much has been written this year about low-wage workers being compelled to work on Thanksgiving day, as major retail employers expand Black Friday holiday-selling hours. But this work-on-the-holiday reality has already been true for a while regarding another class of under-compensated laborers: College athletes.

The Thanksgiving weekend brings a dizzying assortment of college basketball tournaments and football games, a prelude to the latter’s bowl season, which now begins in mid-December and extends well into January. How quaint it is to think back on the day when everyone consumed their fill of football on New Year’s Day and then got back to other pastimes.

While the analogy isn’t perfect — and yes, some of these kids will eventually become millionaires — the exploitation of college athletes has become a major topic of conversation, as detailed in the recent documentary “Schooled: The Price of College Sports,” which makes the case that universities and TV networks have created a multibillion-dollar business fueled by the free labor of young men, most of whom will never have a professional career.

Former UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin (pictured), who did make it to the NFL, also noted the onerous restrictions placed on athletes, all part of the NCAA’s arcane rules designed to protect and preserve the ideal of amateurism. (“Schooled” was adapted from an exhaustive magazine piece by Taylor Branch that, if you have a couple of days, is well worth reading.)

Moreover, in the case of football, a lot of those guys face the prospect of debilitating injuries, as a separate doc, “Frontline’s” “League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis,” outlined.

New York Times columnist Joe Nocera has been especially aggressive about calling out college sports for its hypocrisy, writing last June in regard to legal action instituted to compel the NCAA to compensate athletes, “the day is coming when the players will be paid. The only question is when.” (Lest anyone say “But these kids get free books and tuition,” true, but that’s a relative pittance based on the revenue the major collegiate sports bring in — a haul padded by escalating TV rights deals as well as the launch of regional networks dedicated to specific conferences.)

For now, though, the system remains as it has been for decades. Meanwhile, ESPN and other outlets hungrily clamor for every game they can get their hands on — in the Disney-owned sports titan’s case, even determining the schedule and dictating who plays when and where. It’s all because sports have become essentially the perfect food for television — a commodity people prefer to watch live, in an age where delayed viewing and DVRs are seriously threatening the old models.

It’s easy, of course, to blame greedy schools and networks for the current inequities, but let’s face it, everyone who plops on the couch and watches basketball or football over the long weekend (yours truly included) is complicit in supporting the system as presently constituted. Notably, ESPN’s hoops coverage this season got off to a strong start.

Perhaps that’s why college athletics are so well positioned to weather the criticism. Because at this point, the only thing more traditional about Thanksgiving than family and a portion from that juicy Butterball is the big helping of football and basketball that follows.

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Technology Notes
Sony PlayStation 4 has Black Friday advantage
By Mike Snider, USA Today - Nov. 27, 2013

Headed into the heart of the holiday shopping season, Sony appears to have a lead with its PlayStation 4 on more wish lists than Microsoft's Xbox One, a new Nielsen survey suggests.

Three out of ten active gamers (30%) definitely plan to purchase the PS4, while 22% are on the hunt for the Xbox One. About 10% aim to buy a Wii U, according to Nielsen's Video Game Tracking survey of 1,200 male and female active gamers aged 7-54.

That finding parallels a similar one recently from research firm Parks Associates. More than one-third (36%) of those shopping for a console plan to purchase a PS4, compared to 27% for Xbox One, its survey of 2,500 heads of broadband households found.

A similar survey from consumer experiences firm SDL found that PlayStation 4, in stores for almost two weeks, had a 54% product commitment score, compared to Xbox One's 48%, based on an analysis of online communication about the consoles. The Xbox One hit stores last week.

In its survey, Nielsen also looked at the video games most consumers wanted to buy. On both the PS4 and the Xbox One, Call of Duty: Ghosts was the most-wanted title. The game also appeared among the top 10 most-wanted for the Wii U, but the most desired Wii U game was Super Mario 3D World. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag made the most-wanted list on all three consoles, too.

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Nielsen Overnights (18-49)
A little less twinkle for ABC’s ‘Stars’ finale
Two-hour ender draws a 2.4 in 18-49s, down 20 percent
By Toni Fitzgerald, Media Life Magazine - Nov. 27, 2013

ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” posted its lowest-ever rating for a season finale last night.

But even a diminished “Stars” still managed to lift the network to its best Tuesday among adults 18-49 since premiere week.

“Stars” averaged a 2.4 18-49 rating from 9 to 11 p.m., according to Nielsen overnights, down 20 percent from a 3.0 last fall. It was also off 11 percent from last spring’s ender, which drew a 2.7.

That was a big improvement, however, on what ABC usually draws in the Tuesday timeslot. It marked the network’s best rating in the slot since the spring finale. It was also “Stars’” best performance since its season premiere in September.

The show averaged 15.4 million total viewers as well.

ABC’s “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” led off the night with a 2.5 in the demo, growing for the second straight week. It also delivered its second-biggest audience ever, 9.3 million total viewers.

The combo of “Stars” and “S.H.I.E.L.D.” helped lift ABC to second on the night, just behind CBS, which aired “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” at 8 p.m.

“Rudolph” won its timeslot with a 3.0, up 3 percent from last year’s 2.9. It was the night’s highest-rated show, just edging NBC’s “The Voice” (2.9 at 9 p.m.).

Fox saw gains for its 9 p.m. comedies last night, with “New Girl” up 12 percent to a 1.9 while lead-out “The Mindy Project” grew 17 percent to a 1.4.

The CW’s Tuesday schedule continued to see improvements. “The Originals” tied a series high among 18-49s with a 1.1 at 8 p.m., while lead-out “Supernatural” drew its second-biggest audience of the season among total viewers, 2.39 million viewers.

The network was up 150 percent compared to the same night last year in 18-49s.

CBS led the night among 18-49s with a 2.5 average overnight rating and a 7 share. ABC was second at 2.4/7, NBC third at 2.3/7, Fox fourth at 1.5/4, Univision fifth at 1.3/4, CW sixth at 1.1/3 and Telemundo seventh at 0.6/2.

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

At 8 p.m. CBS started the night in the lead with a 3.0 for “Rudolph,” followed by ABC with a 2.5 for “S.H.I.E.L.D.” NBC was third with a 2.0 for “The Biggest Loser,” Univision fourth with a 1.5 for “Corazon Indomable,” Fox fifth with a 1.3 for “Dads” (1.2) and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (1.5), CW sixth with a 1.1 for “The Originals,” and Telemundo seventh with a 0.5 for “Marido en Alquiler.”

NBC moved to first at 9 p.m. with a 2.9 for “Voice,” while CBS slipped to second with a 2.4 for “NCIS: Los Angeles.” ABC was third with a 2.3 for the first hour of “Stars,” Fox fourth with a 1.6 for “Girl” (1.9) and “Mindy” (1.4), Univision fifth with a 1.3 for “Lo Que La Vida Me Robo,” CW sixth with a 1.0 for “Supernatural” and Telemundo seventh with a 0.7 for “La Reina del Sur.”

ABC was first at 10 p.m. with a 2.5 for “Stars,” with CBS and NBC tied for second at 2.1, CBS for “Person of Interest” and NBC for “Chicago Fire.” Univision was fourth with a 1.1 for “Mentir para Vivir” and Telemundo fifth with a 0.5 for “Santa Diabla.”

Among households, ABC was first for the night with an 8.0 average overnight rating and a 13 share. CBS was second at 6.8/11, NBC third at 4.8/8, Fox fourth at 2.0/3, Univision fifth at 1.7/3, CW sixth at 1.4/2 and Telemundo seventh at 0.7/1.

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TV Notes
Nigella Lawson drug allegations sour Season 2 launch of 'The Taste'
By Scott Collins, Los Angeles Times' 'Show Tracker' Blog - Nov. 27, 2013

Nigella Lawson judges cooking on ABC's reality competition "The Taste," but lately the British lifestyle expert's private life is cooking up serious trouble that may threaten her role on the show.

Lawson's ex-husband Charles Saatchi accused her in a letter made public during a British court case this week of being "off her head" due to habitual abuse of cocaine and prescription drugs. Calling his ex-wife "Higella," he said Lawson also gave drugs to her 19-year-old daughter Cosima.

In an email to Lawson, Saatchi wrote that she "poisoned your child with drugs and trashed her life. Classy!"

Lawson, who has not been charged with any crime, could not be reached for comment through one of her representatives on Wednesday.

In any case, this is an interesting development for "The Taste," which is scheduled to return for Season 2 on Jan. 2. Lawson is one of four judges, including ubiquitous travel and food commentator Anthony Bourdain.

Despite low ratings during Season 1, ABC is expanding "The Taste" to two hours in the key 8 p.m. Thursday slot, facing off against strong competitors such as CBS' "The Big Bang Theory" and Fox's "American Idol."

An ABC spokeswoman declined to comment. But a source close to the production says that Season 2 will go ahead as planned because the episodes have already been filmed.

This could prove a double-edged sword for ABC, however, if the scandal grows in the coming weeks.

The allegations come just months after Lawson's private life exploded with sensationalistic media coverage. In a bizarre, much-discussed incident over the summer, Saatchi was photographed with his hand around a frightened-looking Lawson's neck at a London restaurant. Lawson was widely viewed as the victim in that encounter and the couple divorced.

Now two of Lawson's former assistants are being tried on fraud charges in connection with the handling of her financial affairs. The assistants, who are sisters, say that Lawson gave them free rein to spend as long as they kept her drug use secret -- a claim that Saatchi appears to not doubt.

"I believe every word [they] have said," Saatchi wrote.

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TV Notes
BBC America Picks Up Second Season Of ‘Atlantis’
By Nellie Andreeva, Deadline.com - Nov. 27, 2013

BBC America has picked up the second season of British fantasy-adventure series Atlantis. The BBC, which originally commissioned the show inspired by Greek mythology, has already renewed it for a second season. For BBC America, which came aboard as co-producer on Atlantis in July, the pickup comes on the heels of the show’s November 23 premiere, which delivered the network’s highest-rated series premiere ever for Supernatural Saturday with 838,000 total viewers.

Atlantis is an Urban Myth Films production for BBC Cymru Wales. The series follows the adventures of Jason (Jack Donnelly), Hercules (Mark Addy) and Pythagoras (Robert Emms) who battle against some of the most famous names of Greek legend, often in unexpected guises.

Edited by dad1153 - 11/28/13 at 4:14am
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Actor Tony Musante Dies at 77
By Mike Barnes, The Holywood Reporter - Nov. 27, 2013

Tony Musante, who took down drug dealers in his portrayal of a real-life New Jersey detective in the 1970s ABC series Toma, died Tuesday at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York following surgery. He was 77.

Often playing a tough guy on either side of the law, Musante also sparkled as one of two menacing hoodlums (Martin Sheen was the other) who terrorize innocent people on a New York subway car in the 1967 thriller The Incident. Musante had originated the role in a made-for-NBC drama four years earlier.

A dark-haired Italian-American born in Bridgeport, Conn., Musante starred in several films made in Italy. He played a Mexican revolutionary in the spaghetti Western A Professional Gun (1968), an American writer in Dario Argento's The Bird With the Crystal Plumage (1970) and a man with a terminal illness who reunites with the love of his life in The Anonymous Venetian (1971).

Musante played a vicious hit man opposite George C. Scott in The Last Run (1971), a heel in Robert Aldrich's The Grissom Gang (1971), Eric Roberts' mob-connected uncle in The Pope of Greenwich Village (1984) and another mobster on HBO's prison-set Oz for a season in 1997.

He was nominated for an Emmy Award for his 1975 guest-starring role on an episode of NBC's Medical Story and starred as the Army officer who engineered the My Lai massacre in the 1975 ABC telefilm Judgment: The Court Martial of Lieutenant William Calley, co-directed by Stanley Kramer.

Musante starred opposite Susan Strasberg as Det. David Toma in Toma, which ran for a season in 1973-74. The real Toma worked out of crime-ridden Newark and was a master of disguise. Some criticized the series -- created by Roy Huggins (TV's Maverick, The Fugitive, The Rockford Files) -- for being too violent.

Musante did not want to commit to another full season and quit after Toma was renewed. The violence of the show was toned down, and the series was retooled as the much-friendlier Baretta, starring Robert Blake in the title role.

Musante also appeared in the films The Detective (1968), The Yards (2000) and We Own the Night (2007) -- the latter pair directed by James Gray -- and on TV in such series as The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Fugitive, Marcus Welby, M.D., The Rockford Files and Pompeii.

The actor started out on off-Broadway stages and on TV in the late 1950s. Musante made his Broadway debut in 1975 as a gay burglar in P.S. Your Cat Is Dead! and received a New York Drama Desk nomination. He later starred with Meryl Streep in a 1976 production of 27 Wagons Full of Cotton.

In February, he donated his personal-papers collection to the archives of Oberlin College. He graduated from the Ohio school in 1958.

Survivors include his wife of 51 years, Jane.

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TV Sports
Super Bowl First: A U.S. Telecast With Spanish Announcers
By Richard Sandomir, The New York Times - Nov. 27, 2013

On Feb. 2, when Fox Sports carries Super Bowl XLVIII from MetLife Stadium, so will Fox Deportes, the Spanish-language network that is also part of 21st Century Fox. The Super Bowl has never before been televised in Spanish in the United States.

The two-year deal with the N.F.L.allows Fox Deportes to carry other Fox games, starting with Thursday’s Thanksgiving Day game between the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions, followed by all Fox’s postseason games, culminating with the Super Bowl. That schedule will be followed in the 2014 season and will include preseason games. Financial terms were not disclosed.

“Clearly, the Hispanic market has, and continues to be, a major priority for us,” said Peter O’Reilly, the vice president for fan strategy and marketing for the N.F.L. “We have a large and growing Hispanic fan base, and we’re seeing growth among the more Spanish-dominant segment.”

Fox Deportes will add a weekly 30-minute N.F.L. program and pregame shows.

Research done during the past off-season demonstrated a desire among Hispanic fans to watch games with Spanish-language announcers and graphics rather than broadcasts with Spanish audio.

The games under the Fox Deportes contract will be called by John Laguna and Francisco X. Rivera, who have experience calling N.F.L. games in Spanish.

The league has a variety of other Spanish-language deals, including one announced during the season that put Super Bowl XLVIII on ESPN Deportes Radio. Those rights are rotated every other year with Univision radio.

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Nielsen Notes/TV Sports
NFL in Ratings League of Its Own As More Games Top 25 Million Viewers
By Rick Kissell, Variety.com - Nov. 27, 2013

It’s been another monster ratings fall for the National Football League, as 15 games have already drawn 25 million viewers or more — nearly double the number (eight) for all of last season.

In Nielsen’s ratings that incorpoate live viewing and same-day DVR playback, the NFL has accounted for the top 24 most-watched telecasts since Labor Day. The only non-NFL program in the top 25 is CBS drama vet “NCIS,” whose season premiere in late September drew 20.02 million same-night viewers.

NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” is off to the franchise’s best start in 12 years, and is once again the season’s dominant primetime program. Its two November games featuring the Peyton Manning-led Denver Broncos (against the Chiefs and Patriots) each topped 26 million to stand as the most popular primetime November NFL games in 17 years.

ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” is up year-over-year too and figures to draw two of its biggest crowds yet for its attractive early-December matchups (Saints-Seahawks and Cowboys-Bears).

The Broncos have become the league’s biggest draw, appearing in six of the fall’s 10 most-watched games, according to Nielsen.

Heading into Thanksgiving’s annual triple-header of action, here were the games that drew the largest audiences this season: Top 10 NFL Games of the Season

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

8PM - A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (Special)
(R - Nov. 16, 2001)
9PM - Modern Family
(R - Jan. 16)
9:30PM - Lady Gaga & the Muppets' Holiday Spectacular (90 min.)
* * * *
11:35PM - Jimmy Kimmel Live! (Elizabeth Banks; Larry King; Daughtry performs)
(R - Nov. 19)
12:37AM - Nightline

8PM - The Big Bang Theory
(R - Dec. 13)
8:31PM - The Crazy Ones
(R - Oct. 17)
9:01PM - The Crazy Ones
(R - Oct. 3)
9:31PM - The Crazy Ones
(R - Oct. 10)
10:01PM - Elementary
(R - Apr. 25)
* * * *
11:35PM - Late Show with David Letterman (Zoologist Jack Hanna; Kunal Nayyar)
(R - Oct. 10)
12:37AM - Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (Robin Williams)
(R - Oct. 16)

8PM - NFL Pregame Show (LIVE)
8:30PM - NFL Football: Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens (LIVE)
* * * *
12:05AM - The Tonight Show With Jay Leno (Jay Mohr; Christina Aguilera performs)
1:06AM - Late Night With Jimmy Fallon (Rashida Jones; singer Carrie Underwood; Ariana Grande performs with The Roots)
2:06AM - Last Call With Carson Daly (Playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa; Pierce the Veil performs)
(R - Oct. 31)

8PM - The X-Factor (LIVE)
9PM - Glee

(check your local listing for starting time/programming)
8PM - The 'This Old House' Hour (R - Oct. 3)
9PM - POV - Listening Is an Act of Love: A StoryCorps Special
9:30PM - Morristown: Where America Survived
(R - Oct. 16, 2009)
10PM - Antiques Roadshow: San Diego
(R - Jan. 31, 2011)

8PM - Corazon Indomable
9PM - Lo Que Ma Vida Me Robo
10PM - Mentir Para Vivir

8PM - Movie: You Again (2010)

7PM - Movie: El Padrecito (1964)
9PM - Movie: El Bolero de Raquel (1956)

11PM - Conan (Louis C.K.; Thompson Square performs)
(R - Sep. 19)
Midnight - The Pete Holmes Show (Conan O'Brien)

11PM - Chelsea Lately (Sam Claflin; comic Kerri Kenney-Silver; comic Jo Koy; comic Whitney Cummings)

Check Local Listings - Arsenio (Eddie Murphy; Flo Rida)
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Critic's Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - Nov. 28, 2013

NBC, 9:00 a.m. ET

This morning, New York city officials will determine whether the sustained winds and wind gusts in the city are sufficiently severe to ground the Macy’s balloons this year – in which case the 2013 parade telecast will really blow. The cutoff numbers are 23 m.p.h. sustained and 34 m.p.g. for gusts – anything above that, and the airborne part of the parade is grounded. After all that work, expense and planning? Good grief, Charlie Brown.

NBC, 8:30 p.m. ET

NBC doesn’t even bother to change the name of its showcase pro football series when it televises a special edition on Thursday. But how special is it, really? The game has “playoff implications,” yes, but it’s a prime-time contest between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens, both of which have identical losing records of 5-6. Bring the stuffing: enjoy the turkey.

PBS, 9:30 p.m. ET

POV has done this before, and at the time, I strongly urged they do it again – so I’m glad to see this latest StoryCorps special. StoryCorps, of course, is an exisiting, long-running feature on public radio, an intimate oral history experiment that is one of the very best ideas in its history. For television, these existing audio recordings are augmented with basic, simple animation – much like Ricky Gervais turned his podcast conversations into HBO’s The Ricky Gervais Show – and presented, this time, as a Thanksgiving Day treat. Few things you’ll watch on TV today will tend to bring the family closer. Check local listings.

Sundance, 9:00 p.m. ET
Part 5.
This is anything but standard Thanksgiving night fare. But if you’ve been watching, you might want to keep up, because this is a pivotal episode in this creepy, moody, haunting miniseries. But don’t worry: If you don’t want to sacrifice tonight’s viewing time, Sundance is mounting a catch-up marathon of The Returned this Saturday.

ABC, 9:30 p.m. ET

Two years ago, Lady Gaga presented an ABC Thanksgiving special that had her hanging out with her mother, sharing cooking tips with a chef, and, yes, singing. For this second special, she teams with the Muppets, with a plot line that is lifted straight from the classic syndicated The Muppet Show: It’s a TV variety show that shows the attempt to mount a variety show, with backstage as well as onstage antics throughout. And in addition to the Muppets – all of them, according to ABC – this Holiday Spectacular also makes room for Elton John (who appeared on the original Muppet Show), Kristen Bell and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

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WARNING: Spoilers for "The Returned" in this article.

Critic's Notes
The Dead Return. They Need Hobbies.
Following Intrigues in ‘The Returned’
By Mike Hale, The New York Times - Nov. 28, 2013

The word “zombie” is thrown around a lot in reference to “The Returned,” the spooky French series whose first season has hit the halfway point on Sundance Channel. It’s even been called the French “Walking Dead.” But it’s not really a zombie show. Only one character eats flesh, and he started doing it while he was still alive. When an undead girl says, “Zombies have to stick together,” her smile tells you that she considers herself anything but.

The returnees — there appear to be five or six of them so far, though it’s not entirely clear who’s dead and who’s alive — reappear in a French mountain town whose forests and crags, along with its lakeside roadhouse vaguely recall “Twin Peaks.” It’s an appropriate vibe for a show that incorporates several murder mysteries; add droning music by Mogwai and a fondness for static tableaus and slow, dramatic pans, and you have a show that’s unusually moody and deliberate, by American standards, anyway.

Having died as few as four and as many as 35 years ago, in ways that are gradually revealed to us, the dead return seemingly as good as new, with no wounds, decomposition or, at first, memories of how they died. They’re ghosts, but they are very much a part of the physical world, able to dispense savage violence or, this being a French television show, engage in copious, fully unclothed sex. (The show is based, extremely loosely, on a 2004 film with the same French title, “Les Revenants.”)

Taken together, the artisanal qualities of the production, its European frankness and the reserved, mostly good performances (by a cast unknown in the United States) give “The Returned” a kind of hushed tastefulness that many will equate with excellence.

It’s worth noting, though, that between “The Returned” and “The Walking Dead,” it’s the American show — with its unsparing bleakness, its modern-western narrative, its recent decision to spend two entire episodes filling in the back story of a supporting character — that is more unconventional. The French show is just another puzzle picture, predicated on the withholding of information, in which the answers to a mystery are parceled out in an intricate set of overlapping stories involving a large ensemble. (One of the challenges during the early episodes is keeping track of the more than 15 significant characters and their byzantine connections, though that’s also something that will appeal to the wonk in many of us.)

Satisfaction, in these cases (from M. Night Shyamalan, say, to this year’s “Broadchurch”), depends on the artfulness of the unraveling and how interesting the answers are once they’ve arrived. “The Returned” has no worries on the first score. If you fall into its languorous rhythms, you’ll be rewarded by a story that builds tension with clockwork precision and expertly maintains a mood of clammy dread.

On the second score, the verdict isn’t so clear. As the living react (with less surprise than you might expect) to the return of their loved ones — whose ranks include a silent boy, a tousle-haired musician who died on his wedding day, a serial killer and a teenage girl now four years younger than her twin sister — there are glimmers of ideas about unfinished business and the debts that people on both sides of the divide owe to one another.

But by the end of the eight-episode season (a second has been ordered), these glimmers remain vague. An exchange between two of the returnees is representative of the show’s glib profundity:

“No one can hurt us now.”

“But can we hurt other people?”

“They don’t need us for that.”

There’s no denying the power of atmosphere and clever plotting, however, and in Episode 5 on Thursday, the show’s narrative threads start to reveal themselves more clearly. If you’ve been watching already, and are wondering about those arresting images of animals suspended underwater, you’ll get some answers, along with a better sense of the importance of the dam that holds back the reservoir above the town. (If you haven’t been watching, Sundance will offer marathons of previous episodes on Sundays in December; they’re also available from Amazon Instant Video.)

The most consistently engaging dead person we see in “The Returned” is Camille, the confused 15-year-old who knows that for some reason she’s intensely jealous of her twin, now 19 years old. Played by an arresting young actress named Yara Pilartz, she delivers the closest thing to a thesis statement in the show: “Love is stronger than death? What a load of bull.”

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Technology/Business Notes
Xbox One Is Still Stuck in Cable’s Orbit
By Marc Graser, Variety.com - Nov. 28, 2013

The “one” in the name Xbox One is a little misleading when it comes to watching live TV through Microsoft’s new videogame console.

Though the device is being touted as an all-entertainment hub, accessing channels on it still requires a settop box from a pay-TV provider.

The HDMI cord still required to connect the two boxes is the compromise Microsoft had to make in order to take its baby step toward revolutionizing how consumers interact with content.

Through Microsoft’s OneGuide, the Xbox One cleanly and cleverly organizes series from broadcast and cable networks, as well as the streaming content provided via entertainment apps like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon and Machinima. Like the new Windows, the OneGuide is a piece of software that lays on top of another — in this case, the often frustratingly slow and confusing onscreen listings of TV shows offered by most pay-TV providers.

OneGuide is smart and it works. But what it doesn’t do also stands out: The Xbox One can’t access shows stored on a DVR, nor can it tell the other set-top box to record them.

That’s still coming, Microsoft engineers and its software partners say. But for now, the Xbox team wanted to eliminate one pesky issue: the need to change inputs on a remote control or TV set in order to switch from a game to a TV show. Microsoft’s Jose Pinero says that inconvenience is “one of the ultimate enemies of gamers.” And while the assessment may be a bit extreme, having to change inputs is a nuisance.

So Xbox One now enables a gamer to play Electronic Arts’ “Madden NFL” franchise while watching ABC’s “Monday Night Football” at the same time. It also lets a viewer switch from a game to a show in an instant by saying, for instance, “Xbox, Watch NBC” (music to that network’s ears).

That should have a ratings-obsessed Hollywood cheering on the sidelines — as well as marketers, who have long lost the attention of the lucrative male market to games.

For those who expected something more, Microsoft never promised to replace the common set-top box. That was a hopeful notion dreamt up by others. But it’s not a crazy idea, either — one that the pay-TV community should strongly consider as it continues to lose subscribers and wonder what it’s doing wrong.

What that community has done right is to begrudgingly allow Xbox One to repackage its programs for its paying customers in a better way. Now the company needs to take the next step and hand over the job of building hardware to Microsoft as well.

Pay-TV providers have long lamented having to build boxes that wind up becoming expensive doorstops within a year or two, costing companies a lot of money.

But they’re also worried they might lose more subscribers to digital platforms. Here’s a reminder for them: They already are, especially younger consumers looking to binge-watch old seasons of “Breaking Bad.”

The industry needs to realize that Microsoft is making an effort to play nice the way rival Sony isn’t. In fact, Sony is also considering ways to create a competitor to cable and satellite services by developing its own Internet-delivered TV service.

While PS4 has targeted the hardcore gamer from the start, Microsoft has sought to make Xbox One appeal to everyone from the start.

Xbox One already is changing the game, with its ability to let players record, edit and share their experiences and even broadcast live gameplay through the console.

Now it’s pay-TV’s turn to innovate and cut its own cord. As long as the other black box in the living room is around, the revolution will remain an evolution, and Xbox One — at least when it comes to watching live TV — will be box No. 2.

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TV/Business Notes
Straight to Series: The Networks’ Big-Money Bet to Skip Pilots
By Josef Adalian, Vulture.com (New York Magazine) - Nov. 27, 2013

For years now, network TV has developed new shows in the same way: Every season, each broadcaster commissions a couple dozen pilots for a few million dollars apiece, then picks between one-third to one-half of them to go to series. But since it got into original programming in 2011, Netflix has streamlined the process, commissioning full first seasons of shows such as House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black without ever seeing a pilot. It's not the first to skip this once-sacrosanct step: Networks have occasionally agreed to go directly to series in order to land high-profile projects, from the massive 44-episode commitment NBC made to Steven Spielberg's Amazing Stories back in 1985 to CBS's more recent pilot-free order of Spielberg's Under the Dome. But this year, what was once a rarity has become far more commonplace. Fox is leading the way, handing out series commitments to more than a half-dozen 2014 projects, including a high-profile comedy from Tina Fey, the fantasy adventure Hieroglyph, and the Batman-inspired Gotham. ABC, CBS and NBC have all also ordered at least one early series sans pilot. "It's become the big thing this season," says Bela Bajaria, head of NBC-owned production studio Universal Television. While both competitive and financial pressures are at the root of the move, some small-screen execs see skipping pilots as a means to a larger end: shaking up the sclerotic system of series development that's been in place at the networks for decades.

That's certainly the rationale of Fox network chief Kevin Reilly, who sounds more like the CEO of an Internet start-up than a broadcast dinosaur when discussing the rationale behind his recent slew of series orders. "I'm trying to set a bomb off," he says calmly, explaining that he's done with the decades-old development schedule, where writers pitch scripts in late summer, pilots are made between January and April, and series get ordered in early May, right before upfronts. "I don't want the one-size-fits-all business anymore, period. It's outdated, and it doesn't work anymore for television," Reilly argues. "These series orders are a way to create a different rhythm in our business."

There are creative advantages to the no-pilot approach. In the old model, writers design a pilot, and then wait for months to worry about what comes next. When they finally get the green light, they immediately need to staff up a writers room and then spend the season scrambling to churn out scripts that stay just ahead of the production schedule. Reilly says they’re "like Lucy at the chocolate factory, with the conveyor belt going faster and faster, and they can't keep up with it." Skipping a pilot and ordering multiple scripts means both showrunners and execs "can put the pieces together, and the plan for the show together, much earlier," says CBS Television Studios president David Stapf, whose studio co-produces Dome and the upcoming Halle Berry straight-to-series project Extant. "You're ahead of the game." Writers with extra time can discover emerging problems and then go back and retool earlier scripts to preempt them before they’re shot. Universal’s Bajaria says long-range planning was key to the success of her studio's Carlton Cuse–Kerry Ehrin thriller Bates Motel, which was sold to A&E without a pilot: "We had six episodes written before we even started filming." The producers of Gracepoint, Fox’s pilot-free adaptation of BBC America's Broadchurch that's planned for next season, have already cast several of their leads, are working on multiple scripts, and, after a January production start, will likely have multiple episodes filmed by the time Fox unveils the shows to advertisers at its upfront presentation next May.

A major reason networks resisted upfront series commitments in the past was that they were seen as much bigger financial gambles. With a pilot, networks only have to pay for one episode of TV; if it turns out the cast has no chemistry or the idea behind a show doesn't work, they can move on, having spent just a few million dollars. But now there are new ways to counter the financial risk of a series order: for Under the Dome and the upcoming Extant, CBS all but eliminated its monetary risk by working out a deal with Amazon that gave the Internet service early access to the show in exchange for a hefty financial commitment. "The unique [financial] modeling … is what allowed the network and studio to go straight to series," Stapf says. But even where there's no such deal in place, Reilly argues that it's bogus to think of series orders as exponentially riskier than the old pilot process. "Pilots have always been a false sense of security," he says. "We think it's hedging our bet, because it's the least amount [of money] you can commit on [a project]. And yet it's been massively inefficient with a really bad batting average." (As mentioned above, networks typically green-light between one-third to one-half of pilots to series.) "It's led us to shotgunning things on the air and – massive failure," Reilly adds. "Is [going straight to series] possibly going to be any worse than what we're doing now? I don't think so. In the long term, it's actually going to be more efficient.”

Reilly's logic echoes that of Netflix programming chief Ted Sarandos, who so far has opted against making any pilots. Earlier this year, he told Vulture that jumping straight to series represents "much lower risk" than "playing the odds game, where we make twenty pilots and make two [series] and one sticks. That's a good business? I don't think it is. I'd much rather end up with twenty hours of programming that people can watch." He also argued that stepping up with a big commitment to a project would help Netflix attract better ideas: "By going straight to series, the people who have a great story to tell will bring it to us first." Industry insiders concede that Netflix has indeed become a key player in the competition for high-profile projects. And with some other newer cable players making big upfront series orders – WGN America, Starz – networks have had to up their game to stay competitive. "It has a boomerang effect on the talent, writers and actors," one veteran network suit says. An executive from the studio side concurs: "What you're hearing a lot of this season is, 'If we go to Netflix, we'll get ten episodes,'" the exec says. "You hear it on almost every single pitch. Agents and managers – they're all using it." (Not that the argument is always effective: "Netflix can only do so many shows," the studio exec laughs.)

Fox's Reilly doesn't give Netflix quite as much credit for the move as some execs do, and he correctly notes that he started handing out series orders (Terra Nova) long before Netflix got in the game. And yet, he admits the Internet programmer is helping change the rules. "I'm not following those guys, but they are giving me an assist," he says. The straight-to-series model "is more out there, and it's beginning to get everyone out of lockstep. And when there's success, it really helps." So far, the track record for no-pilot projects is mixed. Under the Dome was one of the year's biggest hits, and Bates Motel also did well and will be back for a second season. Netflix doesn't say how many people watch its shows, but it has ordered second seasons of every one of the series it's developed. On the other hand, the aforementioned Terra Nova was an expensive, modest-ratings performer that was canceled after one season. Over at NBC, network chief Robert Greenblatt's decision to hand Michael J. Fox a 22-episode series sight unseen did nothing but give the Peacock yet another low-rated Thursday comedy.

Those failures, plus concerns about upfront costs, help explain why straight-to-series orders are still the exception, and not the rule. Some executives also believe that many creators benefit from the old process, since it lets them essentially produce a first draft of an idea. "You can learn a lot from pilots," says Bajaria, who believes that series orders are "quite a ways away from displacing pilot season." One new player on the scene is actually doubling down on the idea of pilots: Amazon's Prime Video service puts first episodes of its shows online and solicits viewer feedback before deciding whether to move forward with them. Some broadcast network execs, including Reilly, are also increasingly turning to so-called "off cycle" pilots, a middle ground between the old system and straight-to-series orders: A pilot is still made, but — as cable networks have done for years — it's developed and green-lit whenever it's ready, not when the traditional TV calendar says it's time to do so. Off-cycle pilots offer some of the same production advantages as an early series order (they can be cast outside the frenzy of pilot season, writers have more time to work on scripts) without forcing the network to make as much of an upfront financial investment. Even though he's handed out more series commitments than any other exec, Reilly is fond of off-cycle pilots, too, and says he's not wedded to any one particular way of forcing change. "If there's a pilot to be ordered out of cycle, great. If there's a series order that needs to be done, great," he says. "It's all part of a puzzle." What's most important, the Fox chief argues, is that networks insist on radical changes to the development cycle. Otherwise, "The system [will] suck everything right back to the same old way of doing things."

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Critic's Notes
8 things we learned from fall TV season
By Gary Levin, USA Today - Nov. 28, 2013

The November sweeps are over, viewing habits have settled, and the major TV networks are breathing sighs of relief: In contrast to last fall, each has at least one promising newcomer. But cable shows are stealing viewers (The Walking Dead) and critical praise (Masters of Sex). Until midseason reinforcements arrive, here are eight things we learned this fall:

The big broadcast networks aren't dying. All but ABC have more viewers this season than they did at this point last year. NBC is up 12% to rank a strong second behind CBS (and leads among young adults), though that picture will change come January when The Voice and Sunday Night Football are gone.

DVRs are an even bigger force. Growth in ownership of the recording devices has slowed to a crawl; they're now in 48% of U.S. homes. But usage has escalated sharply: Just 59% of all prime-time viewing by young adults on the major networks is done live, down from 71% just three years ago. Delayed viewing up to seven days after a show airs routinely adds 30% to 80% to top shows' ratings. But networks still can't profit from all those extra eyeballs: They get paid only for those who watch commercials within three days, though some are angling to extend that window.

Lead-ins still matter. Despite that growing DVR usage, which enables viewers to set their own schedules, many new hits still achieved success by dint of their timeslot: CBS's biggest new series, The Millers, airs behind TV's top comedy, The Big Bang Theory; the biggest new show, NBC's The Blacklist, follows The Voice.Chicago Fire is up 39% thanks to its new home behind the singing competition's Tuesday results show.

Comedy isn't funny. Though it's been a top priority, launching more comedies (there are 24 live-action sitcoms on the Big 4 networks) largely hasn't worked. NBC hit historic lows last Thursday, a former "must-see" night it once dominated; CBS' once-winning Monday schedule is now a distant third; and two newcomers were axed after just two episodes. Among all of them, only CBS' The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother are up over last season, while Two and a Half Men, and Fox's New Girl and The Mindy Project sank more than 20%.

Scandal is scorching. ABC's sudsy D.C. drama on Thursdays takes the returning-series prize: It's spiked 52% in its third season and has nearly tied lead-in Grey's Anatomy as ABC's No. 2 show among younger viewers, behind Modern Family.

But zombies kill. AMC's The Walking Dead, in the midst of its short eight-episode fall season, has for a second year dominated all of television among those younger viewers on Sundays, and managed more than 18 million overall.

These new shows will last the season: CBS' Mom, The Millers and The Crazy Ones; NBC's The Blacklist and The Michael J. Fox Show; ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Goldbergs and Trophy Wife; CW's The Tomorrow People, The Originals and Reign; and Fox's Brooklyn Nine-Nine. (Sleepy Hollow, a 13-episode series, has already been renewed for next fall.)

These won't: CBS' We Are Men and Hostages; ABC's Lucky 7, Betrayal, Super Fun Night, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland and Back in the Game; NBC's Welcome to the Family, Ironside, Sean Saves the World and Dracula; and Fox's Dads. All are either already gone or will end shorter runs by Valentine's Day.

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Critic's Notes
Lubinsky goes classical for PBS pledge special
By Rob Owen, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Nov. 29, 2013

For his latest PBS pledge special, Pine-based producer T.J. Lubinsky offers up "My Music: Classical Rewind" (5 p.m. Saturday, 10:30 a.m. Sunday, WQED-TV).

It's a departure for Mr. Lubinsky, who is best known for presenting doo-wop and folk music specials, although he's quick to point out that doo-wop accounts for only 20 percent of the pledge specials he's produced for PBS since 1998.

"This is not intended to be a 'Great Performances' show, they're the best at what they do, but it's designed to bring new people in the door who have no clue what classical music really is," Mr. Lubinsky said. "I've heard the music all my life -- in cartoons, in movies, in commercials -- it's always been there but I never knew what this piece was called, who was the composer and I certainly didn't feel comfortable trying to pronounce their names. It's almost like you're intimidated by it in a way. ... I wanted to take the intimidation out of classical music."

Music from the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries from Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Vivaldi will be featured in a video jukebox style that sets the tunes to video of rivers, nature, art of the composers, and shots of what inspired them and the places they came from.

Hosted by Martin Goldsmith (former host of public radio's "Performance Today"), "Classical Rewind" features introductions by musicians -- including Itzhak Perlman, Joshua Bell, Hilary Hahn and Stewart Copeland of The Police -- who explain what each classical piece means to them. Some of the interviews were taped at Mr. Lubinsky's Gibsonia studio when the musicians came to perform in Pittsburgh.

Contrary to a description of the show in WQED's online listings ("Classical masterpieces are accompanied by dancing girls"), Mr. Lubinsky said that only applies to the Can-can. Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" and Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" will be featured along with Bach's "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor," introduced with a vintage clip of the late Jonathan Frid, most famous for playing Barnabas Collins on TV's "Dark Shadows."

"I wanted to make something that is reaching for the common person," Mr. Lubinsky said of "Classical Rewind," "the person who is not in opera houses."

A test broadcast of the program in San Francisco raised $32,000 when it was only expected to pull in $12,000.

If "Classical Rewind" proves successful nationwide, Mr. Lubinsky may try an opera-themed show in the future. But he's not forsaking pop music memory shows, which continue to push forward into the 1970s and, perhaps, beyond.

"We're trying to figure out how to get the '80s into PBS," he said. "I want to do something with '80s talent."


Lifetime renewed "Witches of East End" for a 13-episode second season to air in 2014.

As expected, A&E ordered a third season of "Longmire" with plans to air 10 episodes in 2014.

"Instant Mom" received a second season order from Nick at Nite and NickMom.

MTV canceled late-night talk show "Nikki & Sara Live."

Investigation Discovery renewed "Deadly Affairs" for a third season to air next summer and E! will bring back WWE reality show "Total Divas" for a second season.

BBC America renewed its new fantasy series "Atlantis" for a second season

Channel surfing

HBO's "Treme" returns for its final five episodes at 9 p.m. Sunday. ... NBC's "Saturday Night Live" closes out 2013 with Paul Rudd hosting Dec. 7 with One Direction as musical guest. John Goodman hosts Dec. 14 with Kings of Leon as musical guest. Jimmy Fallon hosts Dec. 21 with Justin Timberlake as musical guest. ... Reruns of the previous day's CBS daytime soap "The Bold and the Beautiful" will air weekdays at 6:30 p.m. on TVGN (formerly TV Guide Network) beginning Dec. 2. ... TLC spins off "Cake Boss" with "Bakery Boss" (9 p.m. Monday), essentially a "Kitchen Nightmares" for bakeries as Buddy Valastro helps struggling bakers get their businesses on track. ... Reruns of the canceled Hallmark Channel talk show "Marie" will air on ReelzChannel at 10 a.m. beginning Jan. 6, and the network has the option to acquire additional episodes. ... "Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor" set records for BBC America viewership on Saturday, drawing 3.6 million viewers combined to its daytime premiere and prime-time encore.

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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
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Nielsen Overnights (18-49)
CBS Sweeps Quiet Thanksgiving Eve
By Nellie Andreeva, Deadline.com - Nov. 28, 2013

Television hardly was a priority for Americans on Thanksgiving eve, with usage levels taking a drop. Only two networks offered their regular lineups in originals — CBS and Fox (though all episodes were labeled as “special” so they won’t count towards the series’ season averages). CBS easily swept every hour of primetime with Survivor (2.2, down 12% from last week), Criminal Minds (2.4/7, down 14%) and CSI (2.0/6, down 5%). Fox’s X Factor (1.2) matched its low with a regularly scheduled episode posted by the redo show following the voting snafu earlier this month. NBC aired a special about the making of its upcoming Sound Of Music live special (1.0) and an SNL Thanksgiving highlights reel (1.6). The CW aired the 1987 movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles (0.5), which actually outperformed three of its series in 18-49, Hart Of Dixie, Beauty & The Beast and Nikita.

Last night also marked the official end of the November sweep, won in 18-49 by NBC for a second consecutive time, a first for the network in 10 years. CBS was tops in total viewers. The Big Four networks were down vs. last November in 18-49 but will likely get close to a flat year-to-year performance when Live+7 data comes in with the exception of Fox, which was hit by the double whammy of poor ratings performance by The X Factor and Glee and having World Series games included in its sweep averages last year. The CW had a strong sweep with small gains — up 1% year to year in its target adults 18-34 demographic (0.77 vs. 0.76), up 9% in adults 18-49 (0.82 vs. 0.75), and up 4% in total viewers (1.92 million vs. 1.84M).

Here is the data for the Big 4 in 18-49 and viewers:

NBC…2.6 (-7%) 8.232 million (+4%)

CBS…2.2 (-4%) 10.334 million (flat)

ABC…2.0 (-9%) 7.623 million (-4%)

Fox…1.7 (-26%) 4.854 million (-25%)

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

8PM - Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Special)
(R - Dec. 18, 1966)
8:30PM - Shrek The Halls (Special)
(R - Nov. 28, 2007)
9PM - Shark Tank
(R - Dec. 4, 2012)
10:01PM - 20/20
* * * *
11:35PM - Jimmy Kimmel Live! (Tracy Morgan; Chris Pratt; Pusha T performs; unnecessary censorship)
(R - Nov. 21)
12:37AM - Nightline

8PM - Hoops & Yoyo Ruin Christmas (Special)
(R - Nov. 25, 2011)
8:30PM - The Elf in The Shelf: An Elf's Story (Special)
(R - Nov. 25, 2011)
9PM - Garth Brooks, Live From Las Vegas (120 min., LIVE)
* * * *
11:35PM - Late Show with David Letterman (Kelly Ripa; Cobie Smulders; Gary Clark Jr. performs)
(R - Nov. 7)
12:37AM - Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (Kat Dennings; video game developer Markus Persson)
(R - Nov. 7)

8PM - Dateline NBC
9PM - Grimm
10PM - Dracula
* * * *
11:34PM - The Tonight Show With Jay Leno (Anthony Hopkins; Sting performs)
(R - Nov. 4)
12:36AM - Late Night With Jimmy Fallon (Harrison Ford; cookbook author Padma Lakshmi; Big Sean and Kid Cudi perform with The Roots)
(R - Nov. 21)
1:36AM - Last Call with Carson Daly (Screenwriter Mark Protosevich; journalist David Finkel; Jonathan Wilson performs)
(R - Nov. 20)

8PM - Bones
(R - Oct. 21)
9PM - Raising Hope (60 min.)

(check your local listing for starting time/programming)
8PM - Washington Week with Gwen Ifill
8:30PM - Charlie Rose: The Week
9PM - Great Performances - Barbra Streisand: Back To Brooklyn (3 hrs.)

8PM - Corazon Indomable
9PM - Lo Que la Vida Me Robó
10PM - Mentir Para Vivir

8PM - Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer (Special)
(R - Dec. 15, 2000)
9PM - Nikita

8PM - Marido en Alquiler
9PM - La Reina del Sur
10PM - Santa Diabla

11PM - Chelsea Lately (Writers John Heilemann & Mark Halperin; comic Dan Levy; comic Claire Titelman; comic Brad Wollack)

Check Local Listings - Arsenio (Anthony Anderson; Loni Love; Doug E. Fresh)
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Critic's Notes
TV Picks: 'Ghost Ghirls,' Streisand, 'Treme,' 'Rick and Morty'
By Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times - Nov. 28, 2013

"Ghost Ghirls" (Yahoo Screen, always). Executive producer Jack Black is the muscle attached to this light and delightful Web comedy, created by Amanda Lund, Maria Blasucci and Jeremy Konner (from "Drunk History"), about a pair of scattered, self-involved, childish, competitive ghost hunters/whisperers/busters -- best friends since childhood, when they shared a "lemonade and talk to your dead relatives" stand.

Lund, as Heidi, is the more glamorous one; Blasucci, as Angelica, the less glamorous one. ("You're being so dramatic," Heidi tells Angelica at one point, "which makes me very upset because normally I'm the one who's dramatic.") "Which one of us do you like more if you had to date us?" Angelica asks Jake Johnson, whose house they have just rid of ghost Jason Ritter. "Say who's prettier, we'll give you a 5% discount."

The series, which debuted in September, was at one point being developed as a full-on sitcom for Syfy; it came to life instead as a series of a dozen 10-minute episodes, all of them now posted, and surely better, purer and weirder than anything Syfy would have made of it. The shorter, cartoon length suits it (and the Web, of course) well and frees the characters from any but the most rudimentary psychology; they have the depth and vividness of Bugs and Daffy. Lund and Blasucci are excellent; if they seem like improv comics now and again, that is, after all, the sound of modern humor.

Notwithstanding a certain having-a-comedy-party looseness, the series steers a steady course. There is a surprising lot of plot in each episode, and a lot of variety among them; haunted places include a baseball diamond, a middle school, a brothel and a woodland spa. In the two-part finale, Black, Val Kilmer and Dave Grohl play a deceased '70s Southern-rock band, haunting a recording studio, fighting too much with one another to finish their last song. Other guests include Bob Odenkirk, Jason Schwartzman, Larisa Oleynik, Natasha Leggero, Colin Hanks, Molly Shannon, Brett Gelman and Kate Micucci. Allan McLeod plays put-upon assistant Rudy. I watched them all straight through, for fun.

"Treme" (HBO, Sundays). This is a happy surprise: a five-episode fourth season of "Treme," David Simon and Eric Overmyer's story of life, death, music and food in the city of New Orleans, back from seeming cancellation. The end of the third season had felt conclusive enough: not especially definitive, in the spirit of the show -- which rolls along like the Mississippi, or any river of your choice, changing and unchanging -- but leaving its main characters in a moment of peace or possibility or renewed resolve. But, naturally enough, we are moving onward, into an extended coda, and a finish hopefully no more neatly conclusive than the finish we already seemed to have.

The new season, all of its episodes written by Simon, Overmyer and/or George Pelecanos, begins on Election Day 2008; "A Change Is Going to Come" is its musical theme. "Treme" is about recombination and rebirth, about making things -- music, food, money, a safe place -- out of whatever's at hand; it has the complicated, joy-out-of-sadness tone of a New Orleans funeral parade. The milieu may be exotic -- the Crescent City really is a world of its own -- but it's the most lifelike show around; its protagonists are decent, their challenges familiar, their solutions (or lack of one) believable. They're deep, the way people are, without being disturbed -- only human. In my more perfect universe, this would be the cable drama everybody talks about and wants to imitate.

"Great Performances: Barbra Streisand: Back to Brooklyn" (PBS, Friday). Brooklyn has changed somewhat since Barbra Streisand grew up there, back in the center of the 20th century -- the hipsters were all out west in Manhattan -- and so, one would think, has she. Nevertheless, the conceit of this filmed concert, from the borough's big new Barclays Center, is that she's come home, the same simple girl as ever she was. (Maybe so; she certainly lets her accent out for a romp between songs, and with "Sam, You Made the Pants Too Long," within the song itself.) In spite of the hugeness of the venue, she both fills it -- her voice remains a big, thrilling thing -- and makes it homey; she is chatty, in a way that, though it may be scripted down to the last word, seems genuine, whether answering questions from the audience or interviewing her guests: Il Volo (three cute Italians boys, you probably knew); good-looking young trumpeter Chris Botti, who brings the pop-jazz; and son Jason Gould, with whom she duets, a little creepily, on "How Deep is the Ocean." (He can sing, though.)

She's spangly in black in the first half of the concert; in the second, she sports a chiffony, empire-cut pink gown, such as she favored in her early days. Streisand has a long history with television, from her Jack Paar era "Tonight Show" debut in 1961 to her own specials (which routinely birthed companion albums) and concert events such as this one (already available on DVD). Her material doesn't always live up to her talent, and her personality is so strong that not every song is a comfortable fit: The pop of her own generation -- she's just a few months older than Paul McCartney -- never suited her like what she sang on Broadway or borrowed from the past. Still, she's a genius wherever she goes. (I'm a fan, OK?) She stays in the moment, takes the measure and meaning of every note and syllable, and has not been swallowed by her own vibrato. She was 70 when this concert was recorded last October, but you can't tell by listening (or, for that matter, looking).

"Rick and Morty" (Adult Swim, Mondays). I'm not quite sure yet how I feel about this animated Adult Swim sci-fi family comedy, created by Dan Harmon ("Community," not "Community," "Community" again) and Justin Roiland ("House of Cosbys," and he also played Christopher Cross on "Yacht Rock" for Harmon's Channel 101). Morty is a kid at the bottom of the food chain; Rick is his grandfather, a drunk and dissolute mad scientist with spit or puke or something always on his chin and easy access to other worlds, dimensions and dream planes. He is full of good bad advice, or bad good advice, for his grandson, whom he drags from his crushing daily life into a world of insane terror. (It's a classic magic-grandpa, scary-buddy story, plus vomit.) Nothing wrong with that. Still, sex jokes involving underage characters, even made for an over-age audience, feel wrong to me, and an episode in which the family dog is "scientifically" rigged to follow commands, then struggles to talk, then talks, then takes over, was the stuff of bad dreams. (There was another episode actually about bad dreams -- itself the stuff of bad dreams.) That is no doubt intentional; this is the channel of "Superjail!" and "Metalocalypse" and "Eagleheart," after all. Nevertheless, I am fascinated (I think that's the right word) by Roiland's performance as Rick -- he also plays Morty -- a kind of cross between Hunter Thompson and Christopher Lloyd's Doc Brown with maybe a little Shecky Greene or Triumph the Insult Comic Dog thrown in, randomly peppered with weird, up-from-the-gut groans and hacking noises. In its speed and urgency and intimacy, it's a new sound, unlike anything else on television.

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Critic's Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - Nov. 29, 2013

Spike, 2:00 p.m. ET

Well, it’s a mini-marathon, really: a sequential showing of what are now the first three movies in the Star Wars cinematic narrative. (In other words, these are the three prequels to the story begun with George Lucas’ first Star Wars film in the mid-Seventies. The action begins at 2 p.m. ET with 1999’s Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. And features a markedly young Natalie Portman as Padmé, a role she would repeat in the next two films as well. 2002’s Episode II – Attack of the Clones follows at 5:30 p.m. ET, and today’s trilogy of Star Wars films concludes at 9 p.m. ET with 2005’s Episode III – Revenge of the Sith.

ABC, 8:00 p.m. ET

Here’s how I, as a TV critic Grinch, review tonight’s telecast of this 1966 holiday classic: It’s shown on the wrong #&$^*! holiday. This is the day after Thanksgiving, and it’s far too early for me to watch, much less recommend, a Christmas special, when the calendar still reads November, and when I haven’t even had my first meal of turkey leftovers. Ebenezer Scrooge would say “Humbug.” Today, so do I. If you want to record tonight’s ABC telecast for later viewing, be my guest. Just don’t watch it now, or soon. Life is too short. And the holiday “season” already is too long.

TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

Another Preston Sturges comedy masterpiece, this one, from 1941, gave Henry Fonda one of the funniest straight-man roles of his career, and absolutely gave Barbra Stanwyck one of the best and sexiest and most outrageous of hers. She plays a con woman who encounters newly minted millionaire Fonda on a cruise ship, and, after perceiving he insulted her, sets out on an elaborate, and delicious, plan for revenge.

PBS, 9:00 p.m. ET

Barbra Streisand was 69 when she filmed this 2012 concert at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, and demonstrates how to hold a large crowd (19,000) without expending Mick Jagger-like arena energy. She does it with her voice, and a few guests (including her son, Jason Gould, singing solo and with his mother) – and with some very funny vintage film clips. Not of her, but of old fans from Brooklyn. Songs include “The Way We Were,” “My Funny Valentine,” and “Funny Girl.” Check local listings.

The CW, 9:00 p.m. ET

This show, now in is final season, isn’t really good enough to warrant a Best Bets nod. But it’s a very slow TV night on a Thanksgiving weekend, and Nikita is aiming to shake things up during this final season – and tonight’s plot has the villainous Amanda making doubles of various VIPS. I always wonder about this particular sci-fi plot, and this is what I always wonder: Once you perfect the technology to create perfect physical duplicates on anyone you choose, why don’t you use it to make copies of gorgeous male and female movie and TV stars through the ages, and open the world’s most expensive a) dating services, b) movie production companies, and/or c) whorehouses?


* * * *

Critic's Notes
Whose 'Who'? - A Brit Scholar Proudly Embraces 'Doctor Who'
By Kim Akass, TVWorthWatching.com - Nov. 29, 2013

Last month represented the culmination of over a year’s worth of organization. The ‘Doctor Who: Walking in Eternity conference’ ostensibly kicked off the academic round of 50 years of Doctor Who celebrations, which culminated in the anniversary special that ran on November 23.

I originally had the bright idea of holding this conference as a new member of staff at the University of Hertfordshire in the Creative Arts Department. Within a month or two of starting, one of my colleagues (Howard Berry) held a 48th anniversary symposium, bringing together various personnel that had worked on the program, including a Dalek, Mat Irvine and K9 and Kevin Jon Davies (Director of Thirty Years in the TARDIS), in a celebration of the show that had initially scared children into hiding behind the sofa. Me included.

That day got me thinking … I knew that there was already a great deal of scholarship focusing on the Doctor Who phenomenon. Indeed, the Reading Contemporary TV series had commissioned an edited collection on Doctor Who, and Dr Lorna Jowett had given a rip-roaring paper at the symposium focusing on the companions in the series. Why not hold a 50th anniversary conference, bringing together as many scholars as possible to ruminate, investigate and celebrate fifty years of The Doctor?

Leaving aside the logistical nightmares involved in organizing a three-day international conference, I always knew that Doctor Who was special. I.B. Tauris was in the midst of launching its ‘Who Watching’ website, gathering together all of the books it had published under one roof (or url); Matt Hills (Triumph of a Time Lord) was editing a collection for the Reading Contemporary TV series that would bring together ‘Who’ scholars in a celebration of 50 years of the Doctor - New Dimensions of Doctor Who; and James Chapman was updating his classic study Inside The Tardis: The Worlds of Doctor Who. There was certainly a lot of interest in the series.

The Call for Papers attracted an overwhelming number of Who scholars. Although I knew that a series that had migrated to the US would attract an international audience, I was not quite prepared for the amount of people writing on the subject.

From subjects as diverse as the music in the series, its science-fiction credentials, the Time Lord himself (and his many manifestations), the companions, the TARDIS and the monsters, gender in the series, the US influence (both back and forth), the history of Doctor Who, its placing within the [British] Public Service Broadcasting ethos, through to close textual readings of particular episodes, the array of papers was awe-inspiring. And so was the level of engagement, the energy and commitment of Walking in Eternity’s participants, with delegates coming from as far away as Australia, New Zealand, North America and Europe. Not only giving papers, but just coming along ‘for the ride,’ to be present at such a large gathering of Who experts and fans, scholars, academics and enthusiasts.

This blog is not a conference report. One, already written by Ross Garner (Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies) can be found here. Another, written by Darren Elliott-Smith from the University of Hertfordshire, will soon appear on the CST website. Instead, my focus here is on what a humbling and enriching experience I found the three days that I shared with Who scholars.

I am regularly daunted by the sheer amount of hours it takes to study television. Many series are made up of nearly 100 hours of action. Narratives span years, if not decades. The ending of series often refer back to story arcs begun a decade before in the pilot. There are inter-textual references, self-reflexive moments, other TV series are referred to and watched. Who could forget this moment from HBO's The Sopranos, for example: [CLICK LINK TO SEE VIDEO]

Historical moments are witnessed through the eyes of characters (Mad Men has made this into a trademark: we have watched both Kennedy assassinations and the death of Marilyn Monroe through the eyes of its characters, and barely a week goes by without the use of archive footage within the series). Whole epochs pass by. 9/11 indelibly marked Sex and the City, The Sopranos and The West Wing, each series dealt with the tragedy in its own way (even if it was to gloss over the event), before moving onto embrace the post-9/11 landscape as seen through the eyes of its characters.

And I am only now talking about a small portion of television that I have attempted to write about over the past decade or so. Just over ten years of television scholarship that not only reveals much about the way US TV has changed since the end of the last century, but how we talk about and study it - the explosion of television channels, viewing habits, digitized delivery and audience expectations among the many ways of studying and enjoying television into the 21st century.

Our celebration of Doctor Who embraced this multi-disciplinary approach. There were scholars from every subject specialism imaginable. Neuro-scientists, cultural theorists, sociologists, Film and English scholars, journalists, media theorists, as well as pure television scholars – if there is such a thing – with most of us having come from other disciplines in the first place (much like film scholars came from other disciplines in the early days of Film Studies). And let us not forget the astro-physicists who later confessed that they had 'bunked into' our conference as some of the panels looked so much more interesting than their own.

Despite reservations at the last panel, with Matt Hills among others worrying about the dilution of television studies as a discipline through a ‘Rag, Tag and Bobtail’ approach, it was this merging of minds and specialties that made the Doctor Who conference so special. While some television studies scholars laud a single approach, elevating one style of scholarship over another, the sheer diversity of approaches at ‘Walking in Eternity’ unlocked the text as never before and proves that there is much to be gained by opening up the field in this way. Textual analysis sat alongside discussions on the use of space and place within the series, historical readings jostled with industrial approaches, cosplay and gaming happily co-existed with DVD production papers. And all opened up the series to innovative readings that, while acknowledging the televisual nature of Doctor Who and its history as a BBC product did not close down meaning to a simple, one-dimensional approach but embraced multifarious ways of reading a 50-year-old text.

Over the course of three-days we never forgot that the series began in 1963, shot in black and white, with wobbly sets and risible monsters. After all, it can only be truly understood when considered, as John L. Sullivan (Muhlenberg College) did so eloquently in his paper ‘Transporting Television in Space and Time: The export of Doctor Who to the United States in the 1970s and 1980s,’ as a BBC children’s programme, subject to the vagaries of Public Service Broadcasting.

My point is that Who scholarship has only really just begun, a point made by Matt Hills in the closing panel of the conference: Doctor Who may be 50 years old, but the scholarship around it probably spans only 10. Since March 2005 and under the helm of Russell T. Davies, the ‘new Who’ has transmogrified into a stylish, compelling drama, attractive to both adults and children, with another doctor (Peter Capaldi) entering the fray in the next few months. Consider coming to this series late in the day. While I bemoan the fact that I am still playing catch up with Breaking Bad, which finished its run before I even got to the end of season 4, new Who fans are faced with 33 years of back episodes to watch.

Eight doctors, goodness knows how many companions (if you know how many, please feel free to tell us in the comment box at the end), countless monsters and myriad planets and crises to attend to and solve. In the first tranche of Doctor Who alone, the series has aired alongside five prime ministers (Harold Macmillan, Alec Douglas-Home, Harold Wilson, Edward Heath, James Callaghan and Margaret Thatcher). Indeed, a fine paper was given by Richard Wallace (University of Warwick) - ‘The Sound of Empires Toppling’: Politics, Public Service Broadcasting and Doctor Who – which focused on how (whether) Thatcher’s years impacted on the series, with some wonderful examples of how Sheila Hancock’s villainess was influenced by the Iron Lady.

I feel weak at the thought of coming new to this canon. And yet, over the course of three days last week in Hatfield, new scholars came to the table with their own personal take on the series, both old and new. A daunting task in itself.

I would like to think that everybody took something away from the experience. Me? I learned a lot. Firstly, while everyone was talking about their first Doctor, I seemed to be the only person whose first doctor was the first Doctor. Secondly, I realized that I am not so much a Doctor Who fan (Steven Moffatt has certainly seen to that over the past year, with his queer-baiting and misogyny proving too much for me to stomach), but I have literally grown up with the Doctor. Fandom does not adequately describe my relationship to Doctor Who. I remember the Tom Baker years with affection (and yes, Brigid Cherry, I too knitted a scarf).

I watched the Jon Pertwee years not least because Katy Manning was just so damn cool. I have watched the series as a child with my father (William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker), with my son (Sylvester McCoy), and my daughter (Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and Matt Smith), and will no doubt watch Peter Capaldi’s doctor regenerate with my adult and adolescent friends and family.

Put simply, growing up in the UK since the late Fifties, it has been hard not to have felt the impact of Doctor Who -- and it is in that vein that I am glad that all of our delegates celebrated a TV series that has survived where others have not.

A British one to boot.

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Originally Posted by dad1153 View Post

TV/Business Notes
Straight to Series: The Networks’ Big-Money Bet to Skip Pilots
By Josef Adalian, Vulture.com (New York Magazine) - Nov. 27, 2013

For years now, network TV has developed new shows in the same way: Every season, each broadcaster commissions a couple dozen pilots for a few million dollars apiece, then picks between one-third to one-half of them to go to series. But since it got into original programming in 2011, Netflix has streamlined the process, commissioning full first seasons of shows such as House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black without ever seeing a pilot. It's not the first to skip this once-sacrosanct step: Networks have occasionally agreed to go directly to series in order to land high-profile projects, from the massive 44-episode commitment NBC made to Steven Spielberg's Amazing Stories back in 1985 to CBS's more recent pilot-free order of Spielberg's Under the Dome. But this year, what was once a rarity has become far more commonplace. Fox is leading the way, handing out series commitments to more than a half-dozen 2014 projects, including a high-profile comedy from Tina Fey, the fantasy adventure Hieroglyph, and the Batman-inspired Gotham. ABC, CBS and NBC have all also ordered at least one early series sans pilot. "It's become the big thing this season," says Bela Bajaria, head of NBC-owned production studio Universal Television. While both competitive and financial pressures are at the root of the move, some small-screen execs see skipping pilots as a means to a larger end: shaking up the sclerotic system of series development that's been in place at the networks for decades.

Is it just me or is this like the third season in a row that we've seen a "the networks are skipping pilots and going straight to series" article?

Next thing you know, summer will come around and there will be a "the networks are shaking up TV by producing new shows year round" article.
Edited by NetworkTV - 11/29/13 at 3:37pm
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