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Hot Off The Press: The Latest TV News and Information - Page 3042

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Nielsen Notes/TV Sports
ABC Viewers Tilt Female for a Network Light on Sports
By Bill Carter, The New York Times - Dec. 18, 2013

The first initial in the ABC television network stands for “American,” but it might well stand for “asterisk.”

For ABC, every important ratings measure in prime time is qualified by what amounts to a footnote: “not counting sports.”

Among the four big broadcasters, ABC has competed this fall with no help from the N.F.L. and virtually no help from sports programming at all.

What does it mean for a network to try to survive on a largely sports-free diet? Mainly, it means building a lifeline to women. Television viewing is widely dominated by women — every broadcast network but Fox has a majority female audience, as do the vast majority of cable networks. The scale is unusually tipped at ABC, where much of its sports programming has moved to ESPN, which shares the same parent, the Walt Disney Company.

About 62 percent of the ABC audience is female. (CBS is the next most female-skewed at 57 percent.) More strikingly, the top five most popular shows among women are on ABC, as well as seven of the 10 most popular. All of those shows have an audience that is more than 70 percent female. (No. 1 is “Grey’s Anatomy” with an audience just under 76 percent female.)

Last season, ABC finished a clear first among women in the category it sells to advertisers, viewers from the ages of 18 to 49 — and dead last in that category when men were counted. Sports — mainly professional football — is the most significant factor in the difference, though a lineup of shows distinctly aimed toward women, including soaps like “Scandal,” “Nashville” and “Revenge,” plays a big part.

Paul Lee, ABC’s top entertainment executive, has consistently said that ABC should be judged under a different standard — one that excludes sports. “More Americans in the 18-49 category are watching ABC than any other network,” Mr. Lee said, adding “if you take sports out.”

He emphasized that in the most important category for finance in the television, a measure called C3 (which stands for commercials viewed within three days of broadcast), ABC has a small lead on NBC and CBS for the 18-49 group, a 2.1 rating to their 2.0 (again, minus sports). By the more standard calculation, ABC is tied this season with Fox in the 18-49 category, with a 2.5 rating, behind NBC’s 3.2 rating and CBS’s 2.7.

Mr. Lee takes a measured approach in evaluating whether the absence of sports puts ABC at a disadvantage. He acknowledges that Walt Disney controls much of sports television in the nation through ESPN, including “Monday Night Football” and the big college bowl games. College football games on Saturday on ABC have provided some minor bounce.

“The reality is the company has the No. 1 sports brand,” Mr. Lee said. He stressed that ABC was still “male inclusive” in its approach and with hits like “Modern Family” has proved that not having sports “has not impeded our ability to have big culture-defining hits.”

Advertisers do not appear to be overly worried about ABC’s gender imbalance. Andy Donchin, the director of media for the buying firm Aegis Media said, “We’re not buying ABC in a vacuum. If you throw in their sister network ESPN, you can probably get a nice balance.”

He noted the affluence of ABC’s female audience. “They have a good upscale story, and that matters to us,” Mr. Donchin said.

Mr. Lee cited statistics showing that ABC led its rivals in categories like viewers with four years of college, professionals, and $100,000 and up annual income. And he argued that the network might even benefit from a definition as the network without big sports. “To some degree, it frees us up,” Mr. Lee said. “You could argue that we have used it to our advantage.”

It is a judicious point for an executive to make, but it would seem to set up hurdles for the network if it is seeking to even out the gender imbalance in its audience. For example, without a weekly male-centric sports franchise like N.F.L. games, it is inevitably more of a challenge to promote new shows aimed at men.

Mr. Lee, however, praised ESPN for generously helping ABC to promote its new series and noted that ABC had no significant problem bringing viewers in to new shows. He pointed to the new series “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” which was clearly intended to attract a bigger complement of men. ABC introduced that series to impressive numbers in September, though it has fallen off steadily since then.

The network also has seen a falloff in initial ratings for shows, which still receive heavy scrutiny in the industry. These are the first-night ratings reported the day after a show has its debut.

In those numbers, ABC is down about 10 percent this season, a factor that contributes to a perception that the network is not doing well. But Mr. Lee said that evaluation was unfair and outdated. After seven days of delayed viewing, ABC is dead even with where it was last season.

“If you look at ABC through the 1980s lens of how we do in the overnight ratings, it is easy to misunderstand our performance,” Mr. Lee said. “Television has turned into the Florida recount. You don’t know who has won until you wait three to seven days.”

Given the increasing number of viewers who watch shows on a delayed basis, a much fairer analysis is how a show looks after a week, Mr. Lee said. And many ABC shows, which include many serialized dramas, do show a tendency to jump significantly in the ratings after a week’s wait.

Mr. Lee noted that over the last decade, procedural police shows were the gold standard of television, because they rated consistently higher than soaps and had stronger value selling repeats to cable and in syndication. Now, he noted, serialized shows are coming into their own, because they can often charge more to advertisers on first run (because of more of an urgency to view them) and have increasing value for streaming sites like Netflix and Hulu.

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TV Notes
Lifetime Adapting Brian Stelter's 'Top of the Morning' as TV Movie
By Lacey Rose, The Hollywood Reporter's 'Live Feed' Blog - Dec. 17, 2013

Brian Stelter’s Top of the Morning is getting the Lifetime treatment.

The female-skewing cable network is in early development on an original TV movie based on the morning news tome from the former New York Times writer. Liz Gateley and Tony DiSanto will executive produce the telepic through their Diga Vision. The company currently is in negotiations with writers for the project.

The buzz-worthy book was published in April 2013, and met with mixed reviews. As part of the reporting process, Stelter, who recently moved to CNN as host of Reliable Sources, spent much of his time consumed by morning news coverage, with a heavy focus on Ann Curry’s short-lived stint as co-host of Today and the high-profile rivalry between Today and now top-rated Good Morning America.

Gateley and DiSanto decided an adaptation would be of appeal upon returning from the annual A&E producers offsite earlier this year. “We were looking at the success of Vikings and The Bible [on History], and knowing that Nancy Dubuc had taken over Lifetime not that long ago we thought what could be their big factual movie that’s big in pop culture now," says Gateley, who was reading the numerous GMA/Today news stories as well as Stelter's book at the time. The pair struck a deal with Stelter and brought Morning to Lifetime.

The producers say they have given little thought to casting, but hope that the film can have the same kind of cultural resonance as HBO’s hit telepic Game Change, also set in the recent past. What DiSanto and Gateley are adamant about is their respect for the morning show process as well as the product. “We're friends and colleagues with a lot of people involved in this world and our intention to sensationalize or slam anyone or place blame anywhere. It's more to tell a fair and illuminating story,” says DiSanto, with Gateley noting that Today is not only a personal favorite but also part of her daily routine.

Added Stelter in a statement provided to THR: "I’m thrilled Lifetime saw this story as an opportunity and personally can’t wait to see who is cast."

For Diga, the Morning adaptation marks a reunion at Lifetime, where the former MTV execs produced unscripted series My Life is a Lifetime Movie. Other projects from the three-year-old pop culture-focused production company include MTV’s Teen Wolf, Ke$ha: My Crazy Beautiful Life, History’s I Love the 1880s and an upcoming scripted adaptation of horror pic Scream at MTV.

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TV Review
NBC's 'Michael Bublé’s Christmas Special'
The singer could use a little help with his hosting, but his latest seasonal show is fun
By David Hinckley, New York Daily News - Dec. 18, 2013

Michael Bublé ’s third annual Christmas special on NBC starts with Bublé summoning the ghost of Elvis Presley and ends like something out of a documentary on the Benedictine monks.

In between, his guests include Mariah Carey and Mary J. Blige.

Call it cheerful and eclectic.

Each guest sings one solo and one duet with Bublé. Like a good host and a smart singing partner, he backs off enough to let Blige and Carey have most of the spotlight during the duets, which are “All I Want for Christmas Is You” with Carey and “The Christmas Song” with Blige.

“The Christmas Song” gets a slow reading, in contrast to Blige’s upbeat “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

Bublé starts the show in a back hallway at the studio, doing a spirited “Blue Christmas” with a couple of his guitar players. His numbers during the show include “I’ll be Home for Christmas” and “Santa Baby,” both truncated for TV.

He wraps it up with “Silent Night,” surrounded by candles and backed by a children’s choir.

Bublé isn’t the most polished television host, and it doesn’t help that his running comedy bit, with Cookie Monster, feels forced.

The nominal theme of the gag is that Bublé’s wife — model Luisana Lopilato, though she isn’t mentioned by name — has baked cookies for Carey and Blige, and Michael is trying to persuade Cookie Monster not to eat them all.

The best line is a voice-over intoning, “Can supermodels actually bake?”

We don’t get an answer. And most of us are unlikely to find out.

Network/Time: NBC, Wednesday at 10 p.m.
Rating: ★★★ (out of five)

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The Buble Christmas Duets cd with his "celebrity" guests was great: biggrin.gif

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The scale is unusually tipped at ABC, where much of its sports programming was stolen by ESPN, which shares the same parent, the Walt Disney Company.

Fixed. ABC affiliates are fuming mad over it. They will never get to air another Super Bowl, National Championship game or Rose Bowl ever again.
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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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Nielsen Overnights (18-49)
Slight dip for NBC’s ‘The Voice’ finale
Season-five finale is off 9 percent from its spring finale
By Toni Fitzgerald, Media Life Magazine - Dec. 18, 2013

The season finale of NBC’s “The Voice” led the network to a comfortable first-place finish among viewers 18-49 on Tuesday night.

The two-hour season ender averaged a 3.9 rating among 18-49s, according to Nielsen overnights, No. 1 for the night and up 26 percent from a 3.1 last week. It was also the best rating for any Big Four program on a Tuesday since Oct. 22.

That said, “The Voice” was down 9 percent from the 4.3 overnight rating the season-four finale averaged on June 18 and it was down 20 percent from the 4.9 rating for last fall’s third season finale.

Still, the show was easily the night’s top program, beating its closest competitor by 39 percent (CBS’s “NCIS” with a 2.8).

It also pushed NBC to first place for the night in the demo with a 3.3 average overnight rating and a 10 share. CBS was second at 2.4/7, Univision third at 1.1/3, Fox and ABC tied for fourth at 0.8/2, Telemundo was sixth at 0.6/2 and CW seventh at 0.3/1.

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

CBS started the night in the lead with its 2.8 at 8 p.m. for “NCIS,” followed by NBC with a 2.0 for “The Biggest Loser.”

Univision was third with a 1.2 for “Por Siempre Mi Amor,” Fox fourth with a 0.9 for reruns of “Dads” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” ABC fifth with a 0.8 for a repeat of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” Telemundo sixth with a 0.5 for “Marido en Alquiler” and CW seventh with a 0.5 for a repeat of “The Originals.”

NBC took the lead at 9 p.m. with a 3.7 for the first hour of “The Voice,” while CBS slipped to second with a 2.4 for “NCIS: Los Angeles.”

Univision was third with a 1.2 for “La Que La Vida Me Robo,” ABC fourth with a 0.9 for reruns of “The Goldbergs” and “Trophy Wife,” Fox and Telemundo tied for fifth at 0.7, Fox for repeats of “New Girl” and “The Mindy Project” and Telemundo for “La Reina del Sur,” and CW was seventh with a 0.4 for a repeat of “Supernatural.”

At 10 p.m. NBC was first with a 4.2 for more “Voice,” with CBS second with a 1.9 for “Person of Interest.” Univision was third with a 1.0 for “Mentir Para Vivir,” ABC fourth with a 0.7 for “Primetime: What Would You Do” and Telemundo fifth with a 0.6 for “Santa Diabla.”

CBS finished first for the night among households with a 9.8 average overnight rating and a 16 share. NBC was second at 7.1/11, ABC third at 1.9/3, Univision fourth at 1.5/2, Fox fifth at 1.2/2, Telemundo sixth at 0.8/1 and CW seventh at 0.6/1.

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TV Notes
NBC greenlights 'Bible' sequel series 'A.D.'
By Patrick Kevin Day, Los Angeles Times' 'Show Tracker' Blog - Dec. 17, 2013

"The Bible" was a hit for History this year, so it only makes sense that more would be coming. On Tuesday, NBC announced the sequel -- "A.D." -- is making the leap from cable to broadcast. It will air on NBC sometime in the spring of 2015.

The 12-hour miniseries, executive produced by "The Apprentice" creator Mark Burnett, Roma Downey and Richard Bedser, is expected to take up the story of the New Testament after the crucifixion of Jesus.

NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke said in a statement, "Everyone's lives were completely altered in an instant and the immediate aftermath of Christ's death had an impact on his disciples, his mother Mary, and key political and religious leaders of the time. In the first episode alone you see the last moments of the Crucifixion, Judas taking his own life after betraying Christ, Peter denying Jesus three times, and then the miracle of the Resurrection."

British playwright and screenwriter Simon Block will write the series. A director and star have not yet been set.

"The Bible" premiered its 10-episode run in March and grabbed 13.1 million viewers. The series averaged 13.2 million viewers per episode when live-plus-7 figures are factored in. The series was the third most-watched cable series or miniseries of the year.

Burnett and Downey are also working on a feature film spinoff, titled "Son of God," which will chronicle the life of Jesus. It will be released in theaters in February of next year.

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TV Notes
‘Duck Dynasty’ Star’s Suspension For Anti-Gay Comments Draws Reaction
By The Deadline.com Team - Dec. 18, 2013

A+E Networks said that Phil Robertson has been put on an indefinite hiatus from his hit reality series for anti-gay remarks he made in the January issue of GQ magazine, which became available today. This comes as Season 5 of the series is set to debut January 15. We’re hearing that the show isn’t shooting right now, and there are episodes in the can that Robertson will be in. But he will not be a part of the production when filming resumes. “We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty”, the network group said in a statement just now. ”His personal views in no way reflect those of A+E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely.”

This move is no small potatoes for A&E Network — the series’ Season 4 debut remains the No. 1-rated nonfiction series telecast in cable history with 11.8 million viewers. For A&E was its best-ever series telecast in adults 18-49 (6.3 million viewers) and adults 18-34 (3 million). It has spawned a couple of Christmas specials (the one last week drew 8.9 million viewers) and just landed its first major awards nomination this month, a PGA Awards nom for best reality series. The Louisiana family also secured big salary increases just before that record Season 4 premiere, with the clan reportedly earning more than $200,000 an episode — roughly 4.5 times more than their previous salaries – divvied up among the nine adults and 11 kids on the show. Those negotiations with the WME-repped family and series producer Gurney Prods caused a delay in the start of the season.

In today’s GQ article profiling the family behind the reality hit, Robertson — who in the story described his family as “Bible-thumpers who just happened to end up on television” — sounded off on among other things homosexuality, calling it a sin. “It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.” Later, when asked what is sinful, he replied: “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.”

The comments quickly drew the ire of gay-rights groups like GLAAD. ”Phil and his family claim to be Christian, but Phil’s lies about an entire community fly in the face of what true Christians believe,” said GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz. “He clearly knows nothing about gay people or the majority of Louisianans – and Americans – who support legal recognition for loving and committed gay and lesbian couples. Phil’s decision to push vile and extreme stereotypes is a stain on A&E and his sponsors who now need to reexamine their ties to someone with such public disdain for LGBT people and families.” The group said it reached out to A&E to see whether the network stood by Robertson’s statements.

UPDATED: Here comes the backlash to the Duck Dynasty star’s anti-gay remarks published in GQ today. The Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT civil rights group in the U.S., is demanding an apology from Phil Robertson and for A+E Networks to denounce his comments. “These remarks go beyond being outlandishly inaccurate and offensive,” the group said in a long and detailed statement. “They are dangerous and revisionist, appealing to those in our society who wish to repeat patterns of discrimination. We urge A+E to immediately denounce and repudiate Robertson’s comments. Furthermore, we call on you to see that Phil Robertson apologizes for his vitriolic comments. Surely a brand like A+E does not want to be associated with such racist and homophobic remarks. Meanwhile, GLAAD, which had slammed Robertson’s remarks as “vile” earlier in the day, praised A&E for its swift action to suspend its star. “What’s clear is that such hateful anti-gay comments are unacceptable to fans, viewers, and networks alike,” the organization said in a statement. “By taking quick action and removing Robertson from future filming, A&E has sent a strong message that discrimination is neither a Christian nor an American value.”

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Washington Notes/TV Sports
FCC Votes To Eliminate Sports Blackout Rule
Leagues can still make them part of negotiated agreements, however
By John Eggerton, Broadcasting & Cable - Dec. 18, 2013

The FCC has voted unanimously for a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would eliminate the sports blackout rules.

The rules, adopted 40 years ago, prohibit cable and satellite providers from carrying the game if it is blacked out on over-the-air TV due to insufficient ticket sales.

The move comes as changes in the marketplace have raised questions about whether it is in the public interest to maintain the blackout, particularly at the current price of a ticket and the state of the economy, which was former acting chairwoman Mignon Clyburn's argument for teeing up the item for a vote during her busy tenure.

The elimination of the rule does not mean that sports leagues and broadcasters—or cable operators or satellite operators—can't strike private agreements that include such blackouts.

But a bill was introduced last month, the Furthering Access and Networks for Sports Act, or FANS Act, that would remove the antitrust exemption for any sports league that does not prohibit or limit sports blackouts in their video contracts, including during retransmission consent impasses. The item has been on circulation for about six weeks, but according to an FCC source, it has now been approved by all the commissioners.

In October 2011, the Sports Fan Coalition asked the FCC to lift the ban saying it would be a "pro-fan, pro-consumer, deregulatory action serving the public interest by expanding the availability of sports to the public without adding any regulatory compliance costs to the private sector."

Media Access Project and Public Knowledge joined the coalition petition.

Broadcasters oppose excising the rule. "Sports blackouts are exceedingly rare, and NAB dislikes these disruptions as much as our viewers," said the National Association of Broadcasters in a statement, "However, we're concerned that today's proposal may hasten the migration of sports to pay-TV platforms, and will disadvantage the growing number of people who rely on free, over-the-air television as their primary source for sports. Allowing importation of sports programming on pay-TV platforms while denying that same programming to broadcast-only homes would erode the economic underpinning that sustains local broadcasting and our service to community."

The NFL agrees and has argued that getting rid of the rule would "undermine the retransmission-consent regime and give cable and satellite operators excessive leverage in retransmission-consent negotiations."

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TV Sports/Business Notes
Wall Street Sees Hollywood as a Gateway to Sports and Entertainment
By Michael J. De La Merced and Rachel Abrams, The New York Times' 'Deal Book' Blog - Dec. 18, 2013

Two years ago, Egon Durban, a senior private equity executive, floated an idea with the co-chief executives of the William Morris Endeavor talent agency: Had they considered making a run at IMG, a 53-year-old peer with complementary businesses?

A year later, Mr. Durban’s firm, Silver Lake Partners, bought a 31 percent stake in William Morris Endeavor, and a merger of the two agencies was still at the top of his mind.

On Wednesday, Silver Lake and William Morris Endeavor made good on that aim, buying IMG for about $2.4 billion and disrupting the longstanding balance of power in Hollywood.

But the deal also reflects a shift in how Wall Street has paired up with Hollywood, especially the traditionally clubby world of agencies. While previous generations of financiers have viewed the talent business as a vanity project, newer deals show that investors are set on remaking the industry, expanding its size and scope.

Three years ago, Creative Artists Agency, the traditional powerhouse in the industry, sold a 35 percent stake to TPG Capital after talking with a number of prospective backers. As part of the deal, the two sides collaborated on efforts to invest in sports and digital entertainment.

Last year, William Morris Endeavor followed with its tie-up with Silver Lake. The union seemed unusual to some: The investment firm is known best for its technology deals like the takeovers of Skype and Dell. But Mr. Durban believed that the agency and its constellation of clients — a roster that includes Denzel Washington, Ben Affleck and Steven Spielberg — could serve as an important gateway to digital content.

While many have questioned whether simply being large would help an agency, William Morris Endeavor and Silver Lake have argued that scale, coupled with a push into advertising, Internet media and other technologies, was invaluable.

From the beginning, Silver Lake was determined to invest heavily in its new partner, which it saw as an ideal vehicle to buy into advertising, sports and other entertainment businesses, according to people briefed on the matter. Mr. Durban has praised William Morris Endeavor’s co-chief executives, Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell, particularly in their moves to reshape Hollywood’s agency pecking order. But he has also aggressively pushed them to make acquisitions.

Adding IMG, whose strengths lie in representing sports talent, promoting fashion shows and managing musical talent like Justin Timberlake and Taylor Swift, would funnel more content through William Morris Endeavor.

“It’s a beachfront property asset,” said one person close to the transaction, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

Such an approach sometimes ran counter to how investors have treated talent agencies. Rizvi Traverse, a Michigan-based private equity firm, bought a stake in International Creative Management in 2005. But executives at the agency felt squeezed by Rizvi’s focus on the bottom line, creating tension between the two companies, according to people briefed on the situation.

Ultimately, I.C.M. executives bought out both Rizvi and Jeffrey Berg, the agency’s chairman and the man who brought in the private equity firm in the first place.

The monthslong auction of IMG — spurred by the death of its owner, the leveraged buyout mogul Theodore J. Forstmann — drew in a slew of private equity firms. Among them wereKohlberg Kravis Roberts, the Blackstone Group and Bain Capital, as well as sovereign wealth funds eager to own such a trophy.

But the buyout firms that made it to the final round had allied themselves with other agencies: Silver Lake with William Morris Endeavor; CVC Capital with Peter Chernin, a former top executive at the News Corporation; and I.C.M., this time allied with the Carlyle Group.

Despite the attractiveness of IMG, a number of suitors scoffed at paying anywhere near the more than $2.5 billion that bankers had sought. Several thought the agency’s business was performing worse than expected.

And one executive at a rival agency, who was not authorized to speak publicly about a competitor, said IMG’s core sports business had suffered setbacks. Colleges were pushing back on longstanding pricing models, while star athletes like Tiger Woodsand Roger Federer had left.

CVC and Carlyle each ultimately bid less than $2 billion, people briefed on the auction have said. But Silver Lake was undeterred, with Mr. Durban repeatedly arguing that the firm’s investment proposition was built on making acquisitions. And for William Morris Endeavor, no other takeover target could provide the kind of size, scope and scale that IMG would.

Now that the two have prevailed, William Morris Endeavor and Silver Lake will get to work bringing their newest acquisition into the fold. For now, IMG will be run separately, though it will be eventually be merged in some fashion.

Rival Hollywood and Wall Street executives have speculated that a merger could provide William Morris Endeavor with the heft it needs to eventually go public. But Silver Lake invested in the agency with a time horizon of more than five years and is not yet thinking about an exit strategy, according to a person briefed on the firm’s plans.

Ken Belson contributed reporting.

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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 Christmas (Special)
(R - Dec. 7, 2010)
9PM - The Year (Special, 120 min.)
* * * *
11:35PM - Jimmy Kimmel Live! (Will Ferrell; Adam Scott; Ron Burgundy and Christopher Cross perform)
12:37AM - Nightline

8PM - The Big Bang Theory
(R - Sep. 26)
8:31PM - The Millers
(R - Oct. 17)
9:01PM - The Crazy Ones
(R - Oct. 24)
9:31PM - Two and a Half Men
(R - Apr. 4)
10:01PM - Elementary
(R - May 2)
* * * *
11:35PM - Late Show with David Letterman (Steve Carell; The Saint Johns perform)
12:37AM - Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (Cuba Gooding Jr.; Emily Wickersham)

8PM - The Sing-Off
9PM - Saturday Night Live: SNL Christmas (Special, 120 min.)
(R - Dec. 5)
* * * *
11:34AM - The Tonight Show With Jay Leno (Sylvester Stallone; filmmaker Judd Apatow; Libera performs)
12:36AM - Late Night With Jimmy Fallon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt; writer Stephen Merchant; The Avett Brothers perform)
(R - Sep. 24)
1:36AM - Last Call With Carson Daly (Erin Foley; "Dear Mr. Watterson''; Two Door Cinema Club performs)
(R - Nov. 14)

8PM - The X-Factor (Season Finale, 120 min., LIVE)

(check your local listing for starting time/programming)
8PM - The 'This Old House' Hour (R - Oct. 24)
9PM - Christmas at Luther: Tidings of Comfort and Joy
(R - Dec. 23, 2012)
10PM - Antiques Roadshow: Junk in the Trunk
(R - Nov. 7, 2011)

8PM - Por Siempre Mi Amor
9PM - Lo Que La Vida Me Robo
10PM - Mentir Para Vivir

8PM - The Vampire Diaries
(R - Nov. 14)
9PM - Reign
(R - Oct. 17)

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

11PM - The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Jonah Hill)
11:31PM - The Colbert Report (Ben Stiller)

11PM - Conan (Christina Applegate; Skylar Astin; Young The Giant)

11PM - Chelsea Lately (Singer Sara Bareilles; comic Ian Karmel; comic Heather McDonald; comic April Richardson)

Check Local Listings - Arsenio (Megan Good; Clay Aiken; TNT; Chance the Rapper)
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Critic's Notes
Best of 2013: TV
By Rob Owen, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Dec. 19, 2013

If there's one theme to this year's Top 10 list of best TV shows, it's that TV drama continues to eat comedy's lunch.

While many of the shows in the Top 10 have comedic elements and moments, only one show is produced in half-hour segments (HBO's "Getting On").

So what happened to the comedies? They just weren't up to snuff. "Modern Family" still has its moments, but it's not able to turn out as many consistently funny episodes as it was early in its run. "The Middle" and "The Big Bang Theory" still garner laughs, but they're also growing a bit long in the tooth; you can see the writers struggle to come up with plots that aren't a rehash of an earlier episode.

Add to that a dearth of new quality comedies this fall, and it's not surprising to find a TV Top 10 dominated by drama.

1. "Southland" (TNT): Canceled this year for the second time, "Southland" had a great ride. TNT saved "Southland" from extinction after NBC dumped it in 2009, producing an additional three seasons of new episodes. With a large, somewhat unwieldy cast in its NBC incarnation, the show's smaller budget on TNT resulted in a tighter focus and smarter, more character-driven stories anchored by strong performances from the core cast of Michael Cudlitz, Regina King, Ben McKenzie and Shawn Hatosy.

2. "Breaking Bad" (AMC): An argument can be made that this thrill ride of a series resolved too neatly with one last big win for scheming Walter White (Bryan Cranston). But it sure was the anti-"Sopranos." "Breaking Bad" gave viewers a satisfying send-off to a series that made so few missteps that future TV writers will study it for the near-perfect plotting that is its legacy.

3. "The Americans" (FX): An addictive 1980s-set soap about Russian spies living as suburban American yuppies, this FX series starring Keri Russell ("Felicity") and Matthew Rhys ("Brothers & Sisters") melded elements of thrillers and family drama in its first season, an entertaining and often nail-biting mix. Producers also took a seemingly unbelievable plot element -- the Russian spies have an FBI agent as a neighbor! -- and made it work without playing the FBI agent (Noah Emmerich) as a clueless sap.

4. "Mad Men" (AMC): Don Draper (Jon Hamm) got caught with his pants down (by his daughter!) and finally hit rock bottom after a season full of missed meetings and absenteeism at the office (Worst. Employee. Ever.). Pete (Vincent Kartheiser) got bested by new hire Bob Benson (James Wolk) in entertaining fashion. Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) got dumped by married Ted (Kevin Rahm). Unpredictable and surprising as always, "Mad Men" still offers a potent mix of psychological character drama punctuated by moments of comedy.

5. "The Good Wife" (CBS): Most prime-time dramas start to show signs of aging after their fourth season, but not "The Good Wife," whose producers decided to take a page from the cable drama playbook by shaking up its characters to excellent effect this fall. Alicia (Julianna Margulies) bolted from Lockhart/Gardner to start a rival firm, infuriating her former lover, Will Gardner (Josh Charles), setting up an ongoing game of backbiting between the two. This style of drama tinged with dark comedy gave "The Good Wife" a fresh start.

6. "Orange Is the New Black" (Netflix): While "House of Cards" and the "Arrested Development" revival got more advance buzz, "OITNB" quietly snuck in and stole their thunder by becoming the streaming service's most critically acclaimed series. (And maybe its most watched? We don't know because Netflix won't release viewing data.) Although ostensibly the story of privileged yuppie Piper (Taylor Schilling), who goes to prison for drug smuggling, "OITNB" managed to spread its stories over more than a dozen inmate characters from diverse ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. Yes, there's an element of "Oz" to this show -- the character development-informing flashbacks, especially -- but "OITNB" is lighter with more room for comedy and pathos.

7. "Game of Thrones" (HBO): From dragon attacks to the Red Wedding, the third season of HBO's fantasy-drama-soap amped up its dramatic quotient, sending multiple characters to the great beyond and introducing the best fantasy realm Dowager Countess (Diana Rigg as Olenna Tyrell) since Maggie Smith's earthbound "Downton Abbey" character.

8. "Getting On" (HBO): Dr. Jenna James (Laurie Metcalf) and nurses Dawn Forchette (Alex Borstein) and Didi Ortley (Niecy Nash) ride herd over a hospital's long-term care facility for the elderly, and none of them come out looking very good. But their often sad, pathetic workaday lives generate moments of pitch-black comedy. In its six episodes "Getting On" gave a pretty good sense of the lives of its three lead characters. More would be welcome, but it's not essential.

9. "Downton Abbey" (PBS): Taken as a whole, the third season of the British drama was a marked improvement over season two until, of course, the abrupt demise of joyriding Matthew (Dan Stevens) in the season finale. The only thing worse? How obvious producers made his pending death by telegraphing something bad was coming by having everyone, especially Mary (Michelle Dockery), so happy and settled in the moments just before the death-by-car final scene.

10. "Bunheads" (ABC Family): For shame, ABC Family, for canceling this delightful, if never fully formed, series from the creator of "Gilmore Girls." Sweet and funny with dollops of drama, "Bunheads" proved a winning showcase for Broadway star Sutton Foster and "Gilmore" vet Kelly Bishop. It ended much too soon.

Honorable mention (in alphabetical order): "American Horror Story: Coven" (FX), "Arrested Development" (Netflix), "Bates Motel" (A&E), "The Big Bang Theory" (CBS), "Broadchurch" (BBC America), "Call the Midwife" (PBS), "The Goldbergs" (ABC), "House of Cards" (Netflix), "Justified" (FX), "Last Tango in Halifax" (PBS), "The Middle" (ABC), "Mob City" (TNT), "Modern Family" (ABC), "Nashville" (ABC), "The Neighbors" (ABC), "New Girl" (Fox), "The Newsroom" (HBO), "Orphan Black" (BBC America), "Parks and Recreation" (NBC), "Please Like Me" (Pivot), "Rectify" (Sundance), "The Returned" (Sundance), "Scandal" (ABC), "Time of Death" (Showtime), "Vikings" (History), "The Walking Dead" (AMC).

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Critic's Notes
It Was a Good Year for Women on TV
By Margaret Lyons, Vulture.com (New York Magazine) - Dec. 17, 2013

Maybe someday there will be as many roles for women as there are for men. I dream of that day. I'd especially love to watch more shows about complex, interesting female characters — and I'd be particularly overjoyed if those shows weren't fundamentally about romance or child-rearing. (Nothing wrong with either, but that hardly represents the totality of lived female experiences. Variety is the spice of life!) I'd like to think that day is fast approaching, and this year in television gives me hope: 2013 brought us enough shows, characters, and buzz that I can look around and say "more like this, please." There is still major, major ground to gain, and smashing the patriarchy takes a long time. But maybe we're making some progress.

Orange Is the New Black was all anyone could talk about this summer. The show is engrossing, the performances are terrific, its stories are almost all about women — but what's really striking about the show, and what one hopes its legacy might be, is the range of women on the series. Women of different races and ethnicities, straight and gay, femme and butch, trans, cis, young, old, poor, rich, empowered and disempowered in different ways.

Luckily, Orange was not the only show this year that was specifically female-driven. Orphan Black also will always primarily be about its female protagonist — well, all its protagonists, who slowly discover they are clones of one another. There is no white knight, nor is there the typical science dorky guy who pops in to explain everything. (One of the clones, Cosima, is plenty sciencey.) American Horror Story: Coven is so female-centric it sometimes feels revolutionary. (Bonus points for female characters of different ages, ethnicities, and intellectual capabilities.) Top of the Lake had plenty of significant male supporting characters, but that was Elisabeth Moss's miniseries from top to bottom. (Holly Hunter had her moments, too.) Girls, obviously, is primarily stories about women, but Enlightened (R.I.P.) and Veep, too, are definitively female-driven.

Another boon this year? It's not just the quality of shows about women, it's that many of these shows were created by women, too. OITNB comes from Weeds' Jenji Kohan, but easily the biggest TV story of the year is the rise of Scandal. Kerry Washington is the face of exciting network television, and Scandal surrounds her with a dazzling Lady Macbeth, a budding torture expert, and a terrorist mother — and those are just some of the women.

Elsewhere in Shondaland, Grey's Anatomy is currently wading through the most interesting examination of feminist working-mom politics TV has ever done. Cristina Yang and her BFF Meredith Grey started out on the same path to be world-class surgeons. Along the way, though, Meredith got married and had two children; Cristina married and divorced, had an abortion and remains childless. Cristina accused Meredith of slowing down; Meredith accused Cristina of being selfish, and they fought and fought. (Cristina drew a distinction between Meredith and the show's other working moms, like Bailey, who didn't "let up.") It's emotionally rich and wholly true to the characters, but even more satisfying is knowing this is a conversation that could only happen between two female characters.

We've seen interesting shifts on shows that are not primarily about women, too — specifically Mad Men and Breaking Bad, two shows with deeply maligned blonde wives. In 2013, though, Betty and Skyler were cast in a new light. Betty seemed to find herself and was able to out-Don Don, sleeping with him and then happily ditching him to rejoin her (loving, devoted) husband.
Skyler's recontextualization on Breaking Bad was a little different. Actress Anna Gunn wrote an op-ed about the Skyler haters, suggesting that misogyny was a major factor in the vitriol directed at her character. This is certainly so, but it's not the whole picture: The truth is that in early seasons of Breaking Bad, Skyler was annoying, and she was a buzzkill, and it seemed like were were supposed to dislike her so that we might find more joy and intrigue in Walt, who is a terrible person. As the show wore on, though, the depths of Walt's depravity became unbearable, and we as viewers couldn't help but see things through Skyler's eyes — of course making her not just more sympathetic but more human. By this year's final eight episodes, Skyler became the nexus of tragedy on the series, the only person who could really say that she didn't sign up for any of this. (Hey, Hank signed up to be a DEA agent; he knew what the risks were.) Through changes in the story and changes from the characters themselves, Betty and Skyler each gave viewers new perspectives — new female perspectives — on their stories and on the other characters.

The interracial lesbian foster moms on The Fosters; the weird sister dynamic between Tina and Louise on Bob's Burgers; Mindy Kaling on The Mindy Project; Alicia, Diane, Kalinda, and Robyn on The Good Wife; Bullet on The Killing; Anna Farris and Allison Janney on Mom; Stephanie Beatriz's Rosa on Brooklyn Nine-Nine; Abbie on Sleepy Hollow; everyone on Getting On — everywhere I looked this year, there were interesting women with unusual stories and unusual styles, ideas, and perspectives. I hope there are more next year, especially more stories by and about women of color, queer women, and women with a wider range of body types and physical abilities. One show, one character — that's not enough. AMC, FX, Showtime, BBC — they all have plenty of shows with male leads, some shows with male and female leads, but a real dearth of shows that have female, and only female, leads. Hell, I'd be thrilled to see even a USA show whose episodes pass the Bechdel test.

But until then, I'll just rewatch Orange Is the New Black.

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Critic's Notes
The Zombies in My DVR
By Jonathan Storm, TVWorthWatching.com - Dec. 18, 2013

The Walking Dead is not lurching across my TV because too many zombie series are clogging the apparatus. Not shows about zombies, but ones that are zombies -- lying, undead, waiting to rise up at my command.

Things look grim for many of them. This time of year, when dozens of new series have been rolling out, real estate in the TiVo cemetery is running out. And, as Lord and Master of the Zombies, the pressure on me is intense.

Do I finally let go of the well-reviewed, four-part PBS documentary America in Prime Time, now more than two years old? Or do I just say, sorry Andy and Andre, your new Brooklyn Nine-Nine should maybe be called Brooklyn Sixty-Three, and it's time to hit the "delete group" command, the TiVo equivalent of Michonne’s katana blade that chops off zombie heads and leaves them done forever?

It used to be that everybody watched TV shows when they were being broadcast, and that was it. Then came VCRs and then DVRs, an acronym that poor TiVo, the pioneer, could not stave off. We blow our noses on Kleenex, and nobody orders cola, but TiVo is just one small window on the larger land of video recording.

It's my window, though, if a little dated in the world of on-demand and Netflix. No way I'm paying Netflix or Amazon for TV when Comcast is already getting $200 a month to bring most of it home to me, and all those programs are already way too much to worry about. Sadly, that was the same logic I used to employ in the face of BBC America. Who needs all this new stuff, even if it is great, when I've got enough to worry about with homegrown TV? Now, the Beeb is one of my major providers, and with Netflix dangling a few last episodes of The Killing in my face, I'll probably succumb to it too, which will only make things worse in my box of zombies.

The TiVo problem is my conundrum. But the problem of what to watch and what to leave behind is universal and, sadly, unsolvable.

There is zero logic, but immense hope, in the entire situation. TiVo keeps track of its contents. The straight box holds about 15 hours of HD TV. An add-on hard drive, about the size of a paperback book, miraculously multiplies that capacity tenfold. The machine reports that I currently have 184 HD recordings ready to go. If I dutifully watched television eight hours a day, five days a week, it would take a month to get through it all. But I only watch about three hours a day, if that. Am I really going to get to those 19 episodes of Hell on Wheels, the current undead record holder in the box?

And then there are the shows that come along every week that are family viewing for my wife and me: Survivor, The Good Wife, C.S.I., Blue Bloods, Saturday Night Live, one new show, The Blacklist, and Person of Interest, which seems to be waning in our interest, as it has built up a backlog of three episodes while Kathy and I have turned our attention to Fox's amiable The Finder, canceled more than a year and a half ago, but still with four episodes to go in my graveyard of undead darlings.

Yes, as a couple, we are solidly in the ancient CBS demographic, enjoying easy-to-watch TV that gets paused every two minutes while we talk to each other, so we're lucky to get through two shows a night, and, yes, we seem to have a soft spot for quirky characters living in rural Florida. Occupying the second largest chunk of zombie real estate, 17 episodes of A&E’s The Glades, another often humorous detective confection requiring no heavy lifting, await us. It was cancelled more recently.

Just because a network decides a show is unworthy doesn’t mean it gets chopped from the TiVo. There is gratification in knowing (or at least thinking) that I am more discerning than the general public, and most certainly than so many lame-brained TV executives, and that jewels rejected by them may still glow up on my screen.

On the other hand, series that were supposed to be shared viewing but have lost luster in the eyes of my wife stand a good chance of getting axed from the TiVo if they get chopped by their network. Nine episodes of Copper were recently cleared, and Kathy is quite happy that she will never get to see the further machinations of that horrid little Annie Riley, child prostitute with a heart of stone.

The TiVo backlog also causes a more sinister problem. Great pay-cable shows like Homeland and Boardwalk Empire get no black-box real estate because they're available for years on-demand, and even straight cable shows like The Walking Dead, with shorter catch-up on-demand promise, but promise nonetheless, get brushed aside.

So instead of gluing onto TV that really is worth watching, I wind up knocking two or three episodes of Revenge or Revolution off the backlog. Sure, I'm hooked on the glories of Emily VanCamp and Tracy Spiridakos, but the real thrill comes from letting the zombies loose.

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TV/Business Notes
Hulu to reach $1 billion in revenue in 2013
By Dawn C. Chmielewski, Los Angeles Times' 'Company Town' Blog - Dec. 18, 2013

Internet television service Hulu will bring in $1 billion in revenue this year, as it added subscribers and expanded its advertising base.
Hulu did not disclose whether the service is profitable.

The streaming service said its 2013 revenue will be up from $695 million in 2012. The number of its subscribers has reached 5 million, with about half of those who pay $8 a month for Hulu Plus watching shows exclusively on their portable devices.

Hulu Plus is available on more than 400 million Internet-connected devices in the U.S., including next-generation video game consoles, smartphones, tablets, smart TVs and dedicated streaming set-top boxes from Roku and Apple TV.

The six-year-old venture -- owned by Walt Disney Co., 21st Century Fox and NBCUniversal parent Comcast Corp. -- has emerged from a period of uncertainty that saw a change in management and plans for a sale withdrawn.

Under its new chief executive, Mike Hopkins, Hulu is pursuing partnerships with cable and satellite distributors.

Hopkins, in a blog post, said Hulu added content on its free, ad-supported Hulu site and Hulu Plus. It now boasts more than 86,000 television episodes, including current season shows from five of the six largest broadcasters.

Its content deal with BBC Worldwide North America brought such internationally acclaimed shows as "Doctor Who," "Top Gear" and "Sherlock" to the service.

Hulu also launched 20 original programs, including "The Awesomes," "Behind the Mask" and "The Wrong Mans" -- which Hopkins said were among the top 10 most-watched shows on Hulu when new episodes became available. The service, which is competing for viewers with streaming rivals Netflix and Amazon, said it plans to double the number of original programs "over the next few years."

The number of advertisers expanded to more than 1,000 brands -- up 15% over 2012. Viewers streamed more than 1 billion videos in each quarter, and remained with the service for about 50 minutes a session in the fourth quarter.

Hulu Japan is on track to more than double the number of its subscribers from the start of the year.

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Critic's Notes
Staring at the End, in Several Senses
By Neil Genzlinger, The New York Times

It was a year dominated by the naked and the dead.

Not that someone made a television mini-series out of the 1948 Norman Mailer novel, though that would have been an improvement over a number of shows offered in 2013. It was a naked-and-dead year because actual nakedness and actual deadness seemed to be in unusually abundant supply, at least in certain parts of the TV spectrum. Let’s take a look back:

THE NAKED It doesn’t take much to start a stampede in the world of reality shows — put one pawnshop owner or gator wrangler or tattoo artist on TV, and suddenly they’re everywhere. And so it was with nudes. In 2013, several basic-cable channels tried to exploit the unquenchable human desire to look at other people’s private parts with shows featuring nude bodies and the word “naked” in the title.

In April the Discovery Channel unveiled, as it were, “Naked Castaway,” a survival show about a guy deposited on a deserted island with a camera but no clothes. Inevitably,“Naked and Afraid” came along two months later on the same channel, starring a naked man, a naked woman and a jungle.

TLC checked in with “Buying Naked,” about a Florida real estate agent who specializes in selling homes to nudists. It was a two-part special, but with TLC, whose other shows include “Say Yes to the Dress” and several involving cake-baking, clothing-optional television could be a whole new universe: “Say Yes to the Lack of a Dress” or “Naked Cupcake Boss.”

Syfy, meanwhile, hatched “Naked Vegas,” about a business that specializes in full-body painting. In a recent episode, the Las Vegas company was hired to provide human art for an event involving Joe Benitez, the steampunk comic-book artist. The featured artwork consisted of three nude women whose backsides were painted so that, if they stood just so, they looked vaguely like an onrushing locomotive. Or such was the intent. A belching smokestack helped the illusion along, sort of.

All of these “naked” shows have been a disappointment for anyone tuning in to see the most enticing parts of a naked body. Apparently they were created primarily to provide full employment for crew members whose job it is to strategically place potted plants or to digitally blur out nipples and genitals. Yet buttocks, which once appeared on basic cable less often than Bigfoot, have been allowed to see the light of day routinely. We will not here debate whether that constitutes progress or another reason not to watch television, because that would leave us no room to discuss the other collective star of the year:

THE DEAD Death has always been a prominent feature of television — crime shows, melodramas, the evening news — but it asserted itself in new, attention-getting ways in 2013, some frivolous, some serious.

For instance, there was a bit of animated death-related one-upmanship in the fall. The brains behind “The Simpsons” announced that a major character would be killed off next season, generating a considerable amount of chatter and guesswork among critics and fans. But in November, “Family Guy,” another long-running animated hit, hijacked the subject by having Brian, that show’s popular talking dog, struck and killed by a car. The Internet went crazy, a petition drive demanding that the character be brought back was begun, and in general “Family Guy” received a level of attention that good but established shows rarely enjoy. It might have been a stunt — indications in the last week have been that Brian is coming back — but if so, it was a successful one.

Brian was not alone in migrating to or at least visiting the Great Television Beyond in 2013. Walt from “Breaking Bad” is there, thanks to a much-talked-about series finale in September, as are numerous other characters from that show. So is Detective Carter from “Person of Interest.” Declan from “Revenge” too, and Matthew from “Downton Abbey.” High-body-count series like “Game of Thrones” and “Boardwalk Empire” added their share to the rolls, too.

But a more serious kind of death — the nonfiction kind — also received TV’s attention. Showtime, for instance, has just concluded a sobering six-episode documentary called“Time of Death” that chronicled the deaths of eight people with terminal illnesses. Mike Hale, reviewing the series in The New York Times, called it an argument against binge viewing. “Some recovery time between episodes is probably a good idea,” he said.

And one particular death overshadowed pretty much everything else in 2013 even though it occurred long ago. In November television went into overdrive to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. There were general remembrances like PBS’s four-hour “American Experience” and, on the Smithsonian Channel, “The Day Kennedy Died.” There were programs that examined a particular aspect of the event, like “Capturing Oswald” on the Military Channel and “JFK: One P.M. Central Standard Time,” about news coverage of the assassination, on PBS.

There were dubious offerings, like the History channel’s “JFK Assassination: The Definitive Guide,” which was not about what happened, but about what people thinkhappened. There were conspiracy-theory programs like “JFK: The Smoking Gun” on Reelz. “Killing Kennedy,” the best seller by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, got a feature treatment from the National Geographic Channel.

In short, everybody felt a need to note the anniversary, even TLC, a channel not known for restraint or depth. It broadcast the relatively upstanding “Letters to Jackie: Remembering President Kennedy,” a tribute that drew on some of the thousands of letters sent to Jacqueline Kennedy.

That same channel had a less somber way of looking at death: “Best Funeral Ever,” which had its premiere 10 days after the assassination anniversary. It’s about unusual funerals. One episode showed the send-off for a woman who had loved bowling. Her family shoved her coffin down a lane at a bowling alley, so she could record one final strike.

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Critic's Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - Dec. 16, 2013

ABC, 8:00 p.m. ET

Every December in my TV History and Appreciation class at Rowan University, my fellow professors and I assign the students a paper in which they have to interview some friend or family member at least 25 years their senior, and describe their most memorable TV viewing experience growing up. Many students write with amazement of the food and family rituals surrounding a favorite TV show, or viewing night, and more than a few wistfully remark that they wish they could experience a similar TV tradition today, and carry it on. They can. Just tune to this 1965 Peanuts special, the best Christmas TV show ever made, and still one of the best things to watch with a family of all ages. I know, it’s out on DVD. But make a snack, gather the troops, and enjoy it together, as it happens. Maybe in the future, the youngest among you will write a college paper about it…

TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

Today in 1843, exactly 170 years ago, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol was published – and tonight, TCM is gathering together a very timely compilation of film adaptations of the British author’s most famous story. The evening begins with a musical version, a film released in 1970, starring Albert Finney as Ebenezer Scrooge.

NBC, 9:00 p.m. ET

Two words: Schweddy balls. And while you’re revisiting that classic Alec Baldwin sketch, a perfect parody of public radio (if I do say so myself), think about this: Two years ago, Ben & Jerry’s unveiled a limited-edition “Schweddy Balls” ice cream flavor. Its primary ingredients? Vanilla ice cream, rum, and fudge-covered rum and milk chocolate malt balls.

Sundance, 9:00 p.m. ET
: I’ve held the secret long enough, surely. For tonight’s gripping conclusion of this spooky imported miniseries, there’s an escalation in the number of dead who have found their way back – and an apparently imminent confrontation between the dead and the living. For a full review, see Eric Gould’s Cold Light Reader.

TCM, 1:00 a.m. ET

Part of TCM’s all-night salute to A Christmas Carol, this late-night offering is one of the earliest. Released in 1938, it stars Reginald Owen as Ebenezer, and certainly goes for a darker approach whenever a spirit visits the old miser. Watch, in particular for Marley’s ghost, because he’s played by a young Leo G. Carroll – who, later in his career, would revisit the concept of spirit visitations as the haunted hero of TV’s Topper.

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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)
New low for part one of ‘Factor’ finale
Fox singing show averages a 1.3 in 18-49s
By Toni Fitzgerald, Media Life Magazine - Dec. 19, 2013

Fox’s “The X Factor” posted its lowest part one finale rating yet last night.

“Factor” drew a 1.3 adults 18-49 rating from 8 to 10 p.m., according to Nielsen overnights, down from a 2.8 for the same show last year.

In fact, “Factor” declined a tenth from last week’s penultimate performance show. Little wonder people are buzzing over whether the third-year show will be back next season.

Its ratings fell sharply during the second half of the season, after its schedule was shifted during Fox’s coverage of the Major League Baseball playoffs.

“Factor” wasn’t even the highest-rated singing competition in its timeslot. NBC’s limited-run reality show “The Sing-Off” finished first in their shared 8 to 10 block with a 1.6.

Elsewhere last night, ABC’s “Barbara Walters Presents: The 10 Most Fascinating People of the Year” posted a 2.1 from 9:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Walters will retire next year, so this was her last special. It finished as the night’s No. 1 show in the demo, flat to last year’s.

Walters chose Hilary Clinton, the once and perhaps future presidential candidate, as the most fascinating person of the year.

Paced by the Walters special, ABC led the night among 18-49s with a 1.8 average overnight rating and a 6 share. NBC was second at 1.5/5, Fox third at 1.3/4, Univision fourth at 1.1/3, CBS fifth at 1.0/3, CW sixth at 0.6/2 and Telemundo seventh at 0.5/2.

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

At 8 p.m. NBC was first with a 1.7 for “Sing-Off,” followed by ABC with a 1.4 for repeats of “The Middle” and “The Goldbergs.” Fox was third with a 1.3 for “The X Factor,” Univision fourth with a 1.1 for “Por Siempre Mi Amor,” CBS fifth with a 0.6 for “A Home For the Holidays,” CW sixth with a 0.5 for “iHeartRadio Jingle Ball 2013″ and Telemundo seventh with a 0.4 for “Marido en Alquiler.”

ABC took the lead at 9 p.m. with a 1.8 for a repeat of “Modern Family”( 1.8) and the start of the Walters special (1.9), while NBC slipped to second with a 1.6 for more “Sing-Off.” Fox was third with a 1.4 for another hour of “Factor,” CBS fourth with a 1.3 for a repeat of “Criminal Minds,” Univision fifth with a 1.1 for “La Que La Vida Me Robo,” and CW and Telemundo tied for sixth at 0.6, CW for the end of its music special and Telemundo for “La Reina del Sur.”

At 10 p.m. ABC extended its lead with a 2.3 for more Walters, with NBC second with a 1.3 for “Michael Buble’s 3rd Annual Christmas Special.” CBS was third with a 1.1 for a “CSI” rerun, Univision fourth with a 1.0 for “Mentir para Vivir” and Telemundo fifth with a 0.5 for “Santa Diabla.”

ABC was also first for the night among households with a 4.9 average overnight rating and an 8 share. CBS was second at 3.9/7, Fox third at 3.2/5, NBC fourth at 3.1/5, Univision fifth at 1.6/3, CW sixth at 0.9/1 and Telemundo seventh at 0.7/1.


* * * *

TV Notes
And now, one final look back at 2013
ABC's '20/20: The Year' recounts the top stories
By Louisa Ada Seltzer, Media Life Magazine - Dec. 19, 2013

There’s something about the end of the calendar year that makes us want to look back on all that we’ve accomplished.

Or, as is often the case for pop culture, all that we’ve endured.

From twerking to nonstop coverage of the Jodi Arias case on cable news, ABC’s “20/20: The Year” recounts it all in a two-hour special airing tonight at 9 p.m.

Some of the major stories were sad ones.

There were tragedies, including the Boston Marathon bombings, and media spectacles, including the trials of Arias and George Zimmerman. Arias was convicted of murdering her ex-boyfriend, while Zimmerman was acquitted of killing unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin.

Some fell between happy and sad. Three women endured horrific torture being held captive in a Cleveland home for years, but their rescue after 15 years of hell provided some touching and heartwarming moments.

Some stories were uplifting. The birth of Prince George sparked joy throughout the world, and the ascension of Pope Francis has proven that a leader can be both decisive and humble.

Some were just plain baffling. With apologies to Miley Cyrus, her twerking confused more people than it titillated.

“Year” will probably draw merely so-so numbers. While it’s airing against minimal competition, including the season finale of Fox’s “The X Factor,” these types of specials usually draw low numbers.

It’s airing in a week where ABC has aired largely repeats, which means not a lot of audience to promote the show to. A 2.0 adults 18-49 Nielsen rating or above would be a happy surprise for ABC.

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TV Notes
Demi Lovato quits 'X Factor'
By Ann Oldenburg, USA Today - Dec. 19, 2013

Our favorite blue-haired TV judge, Demi Lovato, has decided the time is right to quit X Factor.

She wants to be a music artist again. And Simon Cowell's A-OK with that.

"I always knew she wasn't coming back because she's touring, so I knew that," series creator Cowell said Wednesday night, reports Billboard.

Lovato shared her plans for the coming year, saying, "I started the show being a singer and a musician, and so I'm going to go back to that. It's been really great, but I'm so excited for 2014. I'm going to dedicate it completely and entirely to music — touring and making a new album. Possibly releasing one."

Lovato is set to begin her Neon Lights tour, to support her latest album Demi, on Feb. 9 in Vancouver.

Cowell said earlier this week that changes are in store for the show, possibly including his role on it. A new X Factor champ for this season will be crowned Thursday night.

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TV Notes
Fox’s ‘MasterChef Junior’ Picked Up For Second Season
By Nellie Andreeva, Deadline.com - Dec. 19, 2013

Fox today made it official, ordering a second installment of Gordon Ramsay‘s cooking competition series MasterChef Junior. “MasterChef Junior is one of the few shows on television that the entire family can truly enjoy together, and I can’t wait to see what Gordon, Joe, Graham and the next round of rambunctious, ridiculously talented junior chefs cook up in Season Two,” said Fox chairman Kevin Reilly.

MasterChef Jr., produced by Shine America, had a solid first season this fall, averaging 5.1 million total viewers and ranking No. 1 in its Friday 8 PM time period among Adults 18-49, Adults 18-34 and Teens. MasterChef Jr. improved Fox’s performance in the hour versus last year by +58% among Adults 18-49 and averaged a +50% lift from its Live + Same Day to its Live +7 Adults 18-49 rating – the largest percentage gain of any unscripted series on the Big 4 networks.

MasterChef Jr. features aspiring chefs between the ages of eight and 13 competing in food challenges. On the judging panel, host Ramsay is joined by restaurateur and winemaker Joe Bastianich and chef Graham Elliot.

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'Duck Dynasty': Why Phil Robertson's Suspension Won't Work
By Allison Keene, The Hollywood Reporter's 'Live Feed' Blog - Dec. 19, 2013

Reality television's worst nightmare is reality actually becoming real. For viewers of the A&E ratings juggernaut Duck Dynasty, there's never been an illusion about the show being set up more as a sitcom than a docuseries. Still, one of its greatest appeals is that, despite its heavily-prompted format, something about the Robertson clan felt believably folksy. They represented, like so many of these gold-seeking pawn broker Alaskan ice-road trucker alligator wranglers, an entertaining and appealing version of middle American life, for all Americans.

But there can be a difference between the appearance of folksy -- or the carefully crafted PR of folksy -- and the actual folk. While, again, there's never been any illusion about the Robertson's beliefs (their adherence to their Christian faith is surely a big appeal for many), it's another thing when people are faced with the brass tax of it. But those beliefs in general don't seem to have been too problematic in their presentation, or the ratings would never have been so high.

The issue therefore doesn't necessarily seem to be that Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson said what he did (it shouldn't be a shock that people think this way or say these things), but more about the who and the where. He was talking to a reporter from GQ, and not a friend down the way. Comments perhaps usually reserved for other ears were cut loose for the world, on a platform that amplified them and shocked because, "that's not who we thought you were." Robertson went unscripted.

Robertson's comments crossed a line by making a lot of people uncomfortable for a lot of different reasons. A&E is surely particularly uncomfortable, because the reality broke free from its constraints. The "realness" of the show, however personally defined by viewers beforehand, has just now taken on a very different look.

The result has been a hiatus for Robertson, though not the show, which seems like a confused knee-jerk reaction that ultimately will probably mean very little, after the next few scandals make this one recede from public consciousness. Meanwhile, articles are being lobbied left and right, politically, in the never-ending circuit of, "No, YOU'RE the bigot!" The same lines are being drawn as they always are, about what can and should be said, by whom, and how.

A&E's problem though -- and for all purveyors of reality programming -- is that if an actor or a musician or a filmmaker do or say something controversial, there can be a separation, for those who choose to make one, between the art and the artist. In the case of reality television, there's not supposed to be that delineation. This person is "playing" themselves. That means the appeal becomes personal, not general. It's like suddenly finding out a close friend is a racist. Who even is this person I thought I knew? It's a similar connection viewers have to charismatic characters on TV, and those feelings become safe because the reality is controlled. What you see is supposed to be what you get. Only sometimes it isn't, which is where the problems start.

There are plenty of people who will defend Robertson and continue to watch Duck Dynasty, just like there will be plenty of people who will condemn him and not tune in, and that's really all ok. The real issue that seems to have upset everyone the most, though, is that Robertson's comments shattered the illusion that we all get along. Despite the crazy idea that it was the industry of duck calls that brought us all here in the first place, the fact is, Duck Dynasty represented common ground for very different populations. That's over. And that's not something easily confronted or reconciled.

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Critic's Notes
TV Biz Needs These Gifts That Will Keep On Giving
By Cynthia Littleton, Variety.com - Dec. 19, 2013

When it comes to gift-giving during the holiday season, there are presents you dream of (see: “A Christmas Story”), presents that are nice surprises (thoughtful items that prove family and friends really “get” you) and presents that are entirely sensible (socks, underwear, replacement printer cartridges).

As another eventful year draws to a close, the television business can use a combination of all three types of offerings to help ensure that peace and prosperity reign in 2014. After making a list, checking it twice, and without judging who’s been naughty or nice, here are five things I’d like to bestow on the networks, studios, creatives and other creatures who help make the pictures fly through the air (or the wires).

No. 1: A better Nielsen yardstick
The thing that keeps CEOs up at night is the feeling money is left on the table because ratings measurement systems haven’t kept up with the many ways people now watch TV programs. Nielsen has been working toward delivering omnibus ratings for live, DVR, VOD and streaming viewing for years, but there are still many obstacles to getting numbers networks and advertisers can agree on as currency. The best research minds in the industry formed a coalition a few years ago to study the problem (and prod Nielsen to move faster). Let’s hope 2014 is the year the biz cracks the code.

No. 2: A peace treaty between nets and studios for handling VOD and SVOD rights
A lot of wrangling is going on in the dealmaking over who gets to control the post-premiere digital rights in various platforms, and for how long. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, of course, as different congloms have taken different approaches, with some favoring only TV Everywhere authentication services, while others are cracking open the door to SVOD upstarts. There’s concern in the creative community that deal points for what happens after a show is produced may get in the way of landing a project at the optimum network.

No. 3: A moratorium on remakes of old shows
For the sake of encouraging writers everywhere to dig deep and be original, let’s take a breather on hoary concepts hauled out of studio vaults. Yes, those remakes can be cost-effective because the basic IP is already paid for, but let this fall’s experience with “Ironside” be a lesson. Do we really need a fresh spin on “Murder, She Wrote,” “Charmed,” “Tales From the Dark Side” or “Have Gun Will Travel?” Say it ain’t so, Paladin.

No. 4: Tailwinds for the slew of “event series” in the pipeline for next year and beyond
NBC’s success with “The Sound of Music Live” proved America will show up for a big event if it hits the right notes, and CBS’ “Under the Dome” demonstrated there’s a clear appetite for summer popcorn fare. But here’s hoping the TV biz won’t suffer the same blockbuster overload as the major film studios endured this past summer. FX, Fox, ABC and NBC will be among the first out of the gate next year with “Fargo,” “24: Live Another Day,” CIA thriller “The Assets” and “Rosemary’s Baby,” respectively.

No. 5: A comedy series that is both funny and fetching to a wide audience
The 2013-14 campaign has yielded some well-received laffers — ABC’s “The Goldbergs” and “Trophy Wife,” CBS’ “Mom,” Fox’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” — though none have caught fire yet from a ratings standpoint. But “The Big Bang Theory” and “Modern Family” weren’t built in a day either, so hopefully the worthiest will have the time to find their footing. (“Brooklyn” is likely to gain yardage after its post-Super Bowl airing in February.) As Charles Dickens observed in “A Christmas Carol”: “There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.”

Happy holidays to one and all.

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Critic's Notes
I Want It Steamy, and I Want It Now
Alessandra Stanley Sizes Up 2013 TV Fare
By Alessandra Stanley, The New York Times

This was the year that prose turned purple, binge viewing trumped appointment television, and “Scandal” took the place of “Breaking Bad” as the hot drama everyone wanted to talk about. Television is still in a golden age, but the best of 2013 looked a little brassy, more Aaron Spelling than Aaron Sorkin.

Netflix offered a version of “Scandal” in ‘House of Cards,’ a Washington soap opera for the downloading elite that was more sleek and sophisticated on the surface but was really just as juicy and lowbrow as Shonda Rhimes’s drama on ABC.

And in its third season, ‘Scandal’ kept a straight face through a nuclear proliferation of preposterous plot twists. The government misdeeds in this amped-up melodrama are so dire and so bountiful they could fill a “Twelve Days of Christmas” carol (seven assassins stabbing, six senators sexting, five golden stings). The writing is just as extreme: characters declaim in identical overwrought rants.

ABC, not surprisingly, doubled down on schlock and awe. The second season of ‘Revenge,’ which is set in the Hamptons and is supposedly based on the Dumas novel “The Count of Monte Cristo,” mostly seemed infused by Montecristo cigars. ‘Nashville,’ a variation on “Dynasty” set in the world of country-western music, also made some noise.

On the other hand, there was a deadly silence surrounding the network’s more solemn, slow-moving drama, ‘Betrayal.’ That show took marital infidelity much more seriously and was a big bore. ABC has decided to replace it in January with “Killer Women,” a procedural about a sexy Texas Ranger (and former pageant winner) who hunts down women wanted for murder.

The profusion of flashy escapist shows all but drowned out more sober and high-minded options. Although the audience grew some, viewers didn’t embrace the virtue and verbal virtuosity of ‘The Newsroom’ on HBO, even after Mr. Sorkin fine-tuned his characters for the second season.

There wasn’t much more patience for artsy, self-serious crime dramas like ‘Low Winter Sun,’ on AMC, ‘Ray Donovan’ on Showtime or, on Sundance, Jane Campion’s slow-moving thriller ‘Top of the Lake.’ Cable and Internet networks are slower to admit defeat than the broadcast networks. ‘The Killing,’ which staggered through a third season on AMC, should have gotten axed but instead has won a fourth season and yet another chance on Netflix. Yet another adaptation of a cult Scandinavian drama, the turgid FX show ‘The Bridge,’ was renewed for a second season.

Film noir paled to ashen gray and was shown up by ‘Orange Is the New Black.’ This Netflix original series became the new de rigueur crime-doesn’t-pay show, even though it is not nearly as grim and complex as ‘Breaking Bad,’ which ended its five-season run on AMC in one last apocalyptic blood bath. “Orange Is the New Black” is a frisky semi-comical drama about a pretty, blond, middle-class woman who is put behind bars and consorts with less genteel inmates — “Clueless” goes correctional.

In its fifth season, ‘The Good Wife’ picked up fresh steam, mostly by favoring office politics over gubernatorial campaigns: Alicia (Julianna Margulies) defected from Lockhart/Gardner to form her own firm, taking some prized clients with her and leaving behind an angry and vengeful former lover, Will (Josh Charles). This show started out as a fictionalized reinterpretation of the Eliot Spitzer scandal but has found its own course as a legal drama spiced with lots of sex and heavy breathing.

The “Scandal”-ization of prime time extended even to ‘Homeland.’ The Showtime espionage thriller, starring Claire Danes as Carrie, a bipolar C.I.A. officer, is so somber and forbidding that it kept Carrie’s lover, Brody (Damian Lewis), off-screen and out of her way for much of the season. Yet for all the repression and restraint, even that series turned a little sudsy at times. The show found plenty of time for family melodrama, particularly in the teenage sulking of Brody’s daughter.

Mostly, the real holdouts were in the fantasy and horror fields. ‘Game of Thrones’ on HBO didn’t melt into happy-ever-after clinches or clichés, and neither did ‘American Horror Story’ on FX.

Pop-culture physics requires an equal and opposite reaction to any forceful new trend. And this year, the strongest antidote to “Scandal” was the fourth season of ‘The Walking Dead.’ On that harrowing, dystopian AMC series, tormented humans scramble to survive and it’s the insentient zombies who enjoy the pleasures of the flesh.

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Originally Posted by dad1153 View Post

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)

9PM - Saturday Night Live: SNL Christmas (Special, 120 min.) (R - Dec. 5)

Theyve had so many christmas shows why not do another show with stuff that wasnt in the other show instead of just rerunning the same show from 2 wks ago ?
post #91257 of 93656
Originally Posted by dcowboy7 View Post

Theyve had so many christmas shows why not do another show with stuff that wasnt in the other show instead of just rerunning the same show from 2 wks ago ?
Because it's easier than cutting a whole new set of residuals checks. smile.gif
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Business/Legal Notes
Time Warner Cable Slapped With $1.9 Million Penalty for Violating Pricing Rule
FTC says company failed to provide proper notice for more than two years
By Katy Bachman, AdWeek.com - Dec. 19, 2013

Time Warner Cable will pay a $1.9 million civil penalty to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it violated the risk-based pricing rule.

The FTC rule requires creditor companies to give notice to consumers who are provided less favorable credit terms because of their credit reports.

According to the FTC's complaint, Time Warner Cable failed to provide proper credit notice between January 2011 and March 2013. As part of the settlement, the cable company must provide in each risk-based pricing notice, other statements explaining details about credit reports, credit terms, and consumers' rights.

"Consumers have the right to know if they are paying more for something because of information in their credit report," said Jessica Rich, the FTC's director of the bureau of consumer protection. "Getting this notice gives you a right to a free copy of your report, so you can make sure everything is correct. Some of Time Warner Cable's customers were missing out on this important right."

"We are pleased to have resolved this matter so that we can focus all of our efforts on providing outstanding services to our customers," Eric Mangan, a TWC spokesman said in a statement.

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TV Notes
Katie Couric’s talk show ending
By Media Life Magazine Staff - Dec. 19, 2013

“Katie,” the syndicated talk show hosted by Katie Couric, never quite lived up to the high expectations it launched with just over a year ago.

Though it has posted decent ratings, it wasn’t a breakout hit, and local affiliates were unhappy with the high fees associated with the show.

Apparently the show didn’t live up to Couric’s hopes, either. She will leave the air next spring after just two seasons.

“While production will continue on ‘Katie’ through June 2014, we’ve mutually agreed that there will not be a third season of the show,” said a statement released last night by Couric and Disney-ABC, which produces and distributes “Katie.”

The show had seen signs of trouble almost from the beginning. A few months into its run, launch producer Jeff Zucker left to head up CNN Worldwide.

This fall Couric exited her deal with ABC News in order to join Yahoo. At the time, she said the show would continue, but there was speculation that was only until the two sides could come to some sort of exit deal.

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TV Notes
‘Hannibal’ Returns to NBC on Feb. 28
By Variety.com Staff - Dec. 19, 2013

More pieces of NBC’s post-Olympics midseason schedule are falling into place. The Peacock has set the second-season premiere of “Hannibal” for Feb. 28 in the Friday 10 p.m. slot following “Grimm.”

In its initial outing last spring, the Bryan Fuller-steered prequel to the “Silence of the Lambs” franchise delivered weak ratings but generated enough online and critical buzz to convince NBC to give it a second 13-episode order.

“Bryan and his team are running on all creative cylinders once again and have delivered episodes full of intrigue, scares and surprises,” said NBC Entertainment prexy Jennifer Salke. “The show continues to astound us with its incredible aesthetic beauty and its amazingly talented cast.”

Series from Gaumont Intl. TV stars Mads Mikkelsen as Hannibal Lecter and Hugh Dancy as criminal profiler Will Graham.

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