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Hot Off The Press: The Latest TV News and Information - Page 3069

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TV Notes
NBC Cancels 'Sean Saves the World'
By Lesley Goldberg and Michael O'Connell, The Hollywood Reporter's 'Live Feed' Blog - Jan. 28, 2014

NBC has canceled freshman comedy Sean Saves the World.

The network initially ordered 13 episodes of the comedy that starred Sean Hayes as a gay single father and picked up five additional installments. Of the 18 episodes ordered, 14 have been filmed and 12 have aired. NBC might air the remaining two episodes after its coverage of the Winter Olympics, but the four other episodes will not be produced, as production on the Universal Television comedy has been shut down, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.

Sean Saves the World had an uphill ratings battle from the start. Unlike Thursday neighbor The Michael J. Fox Show, which NBC committed to airing a full 22 episodes, Sean Saves the World was middling out of the gate with a 1.4 rating among adults 18-49 and 4.4 million viewers for its October premiere. The numbers never improved. A recent move to 9:30 p.m. didn't increase ratings, with the latest episode averaging just a 0.7 in the key demo and a series-low 2.6 million.

Season to date, Sean Saves the World is averaging a 1.4 rating with adults 18-49 in live-plus-7 returns. The modest 27 percent jump from its live airings (1.1 adults) shows that time-shifted viewers were never that attracted. The still-modest Michael J. Fox Show, by comparison, at least jumps 50 percent in DVR use to average a 1.8 rating in the demo.

For Hayes, however, his Hazy Mills production still has a relationship with NBC, with Grimm continuing to be a sturdy performer on Fridays and unscripted entry Hollywood Game Night returning to the schedule for a winter run after a solid summer bow.

This marks NBC's second comedy cancellation of the 2013-14 season. Sean Saves the World joins Welcome to the Family, which was yanked after only a handful of low-rated episodes.

As for NBC's midseason fare, the network will bow comedies About a Boy and Growing Up Fisher in the coming weeks, using the Olympics to promote the series.

The decision to end Sean Saves the World comes the same day that NBC ordered gay-themed Ellen DeGeneres-produced comedy One Big Happy to pilot. The network, under openly gay entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt, has struggled with gay-themed fare in recent years. Last season, NBC canceled Ryan Murphy's The New Normal after one season. It was part of a wave of cancellations that saw several LGBT characters disappear from both broadcast and cable networks.

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TV/Business Notes
Walls Of Vertical Integration Fall Down As Orders For Projects From Rival Networks’ In-House Studios Skyrocket
By Nellie Andreeva, Deadline.com - Jan. 28, 2014

It was 1999, the height of the cold war among the broadcast networks. Following the 1995 elimination of the fin-syn rules, which allowed networks to begin producing their own series, ABC, CBS and NBC started building up their in-house production arms with one mandate – to churn out product the nets would own. Cross-pollinating was considered almost heretic. Then in 1999, an ABC-based company, Jerry Bruckheimer TV, didn’t fold after getting a “no” from the network on its CSI pitch, instead setting the forensic drama at rival CBS. But vertical integration got in the way, with ABC deciding it wouldn’t be prudent to subsidize a rival by deficit financing the newly picked-up series — a $1 billion blunder for Disney as CSI went on to become a global hit. The last-minute pullout by ABC that left CBS scrambling put extra chill on the networks’ willingness to buy from the in-house production company of another network. (Fox sibling 20th Century Fox TV had long established itself as a major studio selling to everyone.)

Fast forward to 2014 when a whopping 10 projects from ABC Studios (5), Universal TV (3) and CBS TV Studios (2) have received series or pilot orders at rival broadcast networks so far, with pickups still underway. Here is how we got here. The ice among the broadcasters started to thaw a little in the mid-2000s. ABC’s in-house studio landed another hit on CBS with drama Criminal Minds, which it stayed with, and NBC’s production arm fielded a couple of short-lived series including Worst Week for CBS and Sons And Daughters for ABC. During the 2011 pilot season, there were two pilots from ABC’s, CBS’ or NBC’s production arms at CBS-Television-Studios-Turquoise-Background-paramount-pictures-corporation-19259077-720-540rival networks: Weekends At Bellevue at Fox from Universal TV’s predecessor Universal Media Studios, and Ringer at CBS from ABC Studios. (Fox and UMS had an existing relationship via Fox’s hit drama House, sold by then-independent Universal Television just before its merger with NBC, while ABC Studios pulled out when Ringer moved to CBS sibling the CW.) Later that year, the new NBC regime under chairman Bob Greenblatt reverted to the Universal TV moniker that had been synonymous with independence and announced it would begin supplying all networks, a strategy that has been spearheaded by Uni TV EVP Bela Bajaria. The following season, the studio landed two pilots at outside broadcast networks – The Mindy Project at Fox and the Louis CK/Spike Feresten comedy at CBS, with the former going to series — while ABC Studios had off-cycle NBC drama pilot Beautiful People. Last year, there were three cross-network pilots: Fox comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine from Uni TV, CBS drama Intelligence from ABC Studios, and NBC drama Hatfields & McCoys also from ABC Studios. Impressively, 2 out of 3, Brooklyn and Intelligence, got series orders.

This past summer, ABC Studios and CBS TV Studios too made a company decision to open up development to non-affiliated broadcast networks, something ABC Studios had done sporadically but CBS TV Studios had never attempted. What’s more, while in the past Uni TV, ABC Studios and CBS Studios would only shop projects rejected by their own networks, the studios started taking their hottest properties out on the open market — like was the case with Uni TV’s Brooklyn last season and the Matt Hubbard/Tina Fey comedy this season, both ultimately going to Fox. Sometimes, the studios would even develop projects strictly for outside networks. The result is a boom of series and pilot orders to projects from another network’s in-house studio this year. With CBS still in the early stages of pilot pickups, we already have 10 such projects greenlighted, more than triple the number of pickups last season. What’s more, this year’s orders include two straight to series: ABC’s 13-episode untitled David O. Russell/Susannah Grant drama, produced by CBS TV Studios, and Fox’s 6-episode order to Uni TV’s comedy Mulaney (Like The Mindy Project, that project was originally developed for NBC). Additionally, the Hubbard/Fey pilot, ABC Studios drama Red Band Society and the CBS TV Studios-produced comedy pilot Sober Companion, all at Fox, are being geared toward series under the network’s new development model, which means that last season’s tally of two new broadcast series from a rival net’s production arm will likely easily be topped this year for a new record. Uni TV is posting a studio best with three green lights, for Mulaney, Hubbard/Fey and drama pilot Exposed at ABC, and is eying multiple new series for the first time. And, in its first season selling to outside broadcast networks under president David Stapf, CBS Studios is looking to go 2-fo-2, with both of its projects on track to series.

Also in its maiden cycle as dedicated supplier to competing networks, ABC Studios has amassed five pilot orders so far, drama Red Band Society and comedies Fifth Wheel, The Pro starring Rob Lowe, and Mason Twins at NBC and Save The Date at CBS. The studio has a couple of other half-hour projects with big commitments, so the tally could go up. This marks a major breakthrough for ABC Studios which, as far as anyone can remember, had not landed a comedy pilot at another broadcast network before. This was the result of an effort by new ABC Studios boss Patrick Moran in his first season at the helm of the studio, and ABC Studios’ head of comedy Amy Hartwick. Both Moran and Hartwick come from 20th TV, which, while aligned with Fox, supplies all major broadcast networks, and the duo adopted a similar model. The strategy change is helping ABC Studios, Universal TV and CBS Studios to expand and grow their business independently from their sister networks as well as become more attractive for big-name talent who tend to gravitate to studios that sell to everyone.

Shows from independent studios like Sony TV and Warner Bros TV and 20th TV (at nets other than Fox), once considered the stepchildren of the networks that never get the same love as owned series when it comes to time slot assignments and renewals, have risen to the top of the totem poll, with a drama from Sony TV, The Blacklist, leading the scripted pack at NBC; a comedy from Warner Bros TV, The Big Bang Theory, leading the charge at CBS (and all of broadcast TV); and 20th TV-produced comedy Modern Family topping the ABC ratings. Universal TV, ABC Studios and CBS TV Studios may soon join them in generating a mega-hit for a non-sibling broadcast network (all three are also actively producing for cable). Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been a poster child for border-crossing product, recently landing two Golden Globes for Fox, which gave the freshman a prize very rarely bestowed on an unaffiliated show: an airing after the Super Bowl on Sunday where it will be paired with 20th TV-produced New Girl.

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TV Notes
NBC to air Emmy Awards on Monday (yes, Monday) Aug. 25
By Meredith Blake and Joe Flint, Los Angeles Times' 'Show Tracker' Blog - Jan. 28, 2014

NBC announced Tuesday that it will broadcast the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards live from the Nokia Theatre in L.A. on Aug. 25, a month earlier than usual and on a Monday rather than a Sunday.

The move to late August — the Emmys typically are broadcast just before the TV season officially starts in the third week of September — was expected in order to avoid a scheduling conflict with "Sunday Night Football," which usually begins airing in early September. Such a change is not unprecedented: The last two times the network aired the Emmys, in 2006 and 2010, it did so in August.

However, the switch to Monday night is more unusual, given that most of the big-name awards shows, including the Oscars, Grammys and Golden Globes, are broadcast on Sundays when the number of available viewers is typically larger. According to NBC, the last time the Emmys were broadcast on a Monday night was in 1976.

So why the switch?

If NBC had moved the Emmy Awards to Sunday, Aug. 24, the show would go head-to-head with MTV’s popular Video Music Awards. NBC may also be leaving the evening free in case of a preseason NFL game.

As for the possibility of moving the Emmys to a Monday in September, that would mean breaking with a long-standing industry tradition that the Emmy Awards take place the weekend following the Creative Emmy Awards, which are already locked into Aug. 16.

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TV Notes
Stan Lee's still a marvel at age 91
By Brian Truitt, USA Today - Jan. 29, 2014

Hey true believers, there's about to be a lot of Stan Lee on your TV sets.

"As it should be!" exclaims the 91-year-old comic-book legend and co-creator of everyone from Spider-Man and the Avengers to the X-Men and the Fantastic Four in the early 1960s.

His latest superhero group arrives on The Hub Network Saturday night with Stan Lee's Mighty 7 (8 ET/5 PT), an animated movie in which Lee voices himself, an iconic comic creator who stumbles upon seven superpowered crash-landed aliens — including Strong Arm (Armie Hammer), Silver Skylark (Teri Hatcher) and Lazer Lord (Christian Slater) — and teaches them to be heroes while hiding them from the U.S. military and villainous outer-space invaders.

And then on Feb. 4, audiences can see Lee in live action when he pops up on ABC's Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which centers around the Marvel Comics superspy organization the longtime writer created with the late artist Jack Kirby in 1965.

"Every kid loves fairy tales — stories about witches and giants and magicians and monsters and dragons. And superhero stories are like fairy tales for grownups," Lee says.

"They have the same wild themes, the same colorful characters that are bigger than life, and these things will always be popular."

S.H.I.E.L.D. started on the comic-book page, and so did Mighty 7, which began as a 2012 miniseries released by Archie Comics and Lee's own POW! Entertainment.

Because reality TV shows have become so popular, Lee had the idea for what he calls "reality superheroes" in which a group of disparate individuals — with two galactic law-enforcement agents and five convicts — live together and learn to work as a team with Lee's guidance.

Plus, he quips, "why not have some recognizable people in the adventure? And who's more recognizable than me? Everybody I know knows me — all six people!"

That might be an understatement. Some actors in the Mighty 7 voice cast were just as excited to be working with a guy who in some circles is just as famous as Iron Man or Thor.

"Like everyone I know, I love Stan," says Sean Astin (The Lord of the Rings), who voices telekinetic hero Kid Kinergy. "I didn't care what character they had
in mind for me. I simply showed up and said, 'What does he want me to do?'

"It was a kick in the pants. I hope we get to do more."

A trilogy of Mighty 7 movies is planned, with the possibility of a regular series in there if it proves popular enough. In the meantime, Lee gets to stretch his acting chops with regular cameos in the Marvel movies, including Captain America: The Winter Soldier in April.

"There's nothing more fun than doing cameos," he says. "You get there, you do it, you get the hell out of there in a few minutes, and you're on the screen forever."

But his S.H.I.E.L.D. turn is a little more than a cameo, according to the former Marvel editor-in-chief and president. In the Feb. 4 episode where Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) and his team are on an undercover mission on a train, Lee gets to not only hang out with "two beautiful girls" but also make a speech, he says.

"I have a chance to show the many faces of Stan Lee, how emotional and expressive I can be. And then I wander off into the distance."

In his off-screen life, Lee is working on a couple new international comic creations — a Chinese hero named The Annihilator and the Indian do-gooder Chakra — plus developing a live-action rock-opera musical in Macao.

Continuing to create characters keeps him as enthusiastic about his work life as he was back in the 1960s' "Marvel Bullpen."

"Writing stories is what I do, and I don't think you forget it as you get a little older," Lee says. "I've got so many plots in my head now, my biggest problem is when I sit down to write something, I say, 'Gee, I hope I haven't written this before.' It's hard to remember what I've done.

"But it's not like work — it's fun. Just making up stories, what could be nicer than that?"

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TV Notes
On The Air Tonight
WEDNESDAY 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 - The Middle
(R - Nov. 13)
8:30PM - Suburgatory
9PM - Modern Family
(R - Sep. 25)
9:31PM - Super Fun Night
10PM - Nashville
* * * *
11:35PM - Jimmy Kimmel Live! (Andy Garcia; chef Norman Van Aken; Broken Bells performs)
12:37AM - Nightline

8PM - Super Bowl's Greatest Commercials 2014
9PM - Criminal Minds
(R - Sep. 25)
10PM - CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
(R - Sep. 25)
* * * *
11:35PM - Late Show with David Letterman (NFL player Drew Brees; NBA commissioner David Stern presents the Top Ten List; B.J. Novak; Against Me! performs)
12:37AM - Late Show with Craig Ferguson (Kevin Bacon; Karla Souza)

8PM - Revolution
9PM - Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
10:01PM - Chicago PD
* * * *
11:34PM - The Tonight Show With Jay Leno (Bill Maher; Whitney Cummings; Jennifer Nettles performs)
12:36AM - Late Night With Jimmy Fallon (Jennifer Connelly; Miles Teller; activist/TV host Ronan Farrow; comic Sheng Wang)
1:36AM - Last Call with Carson Daly (David Koechner; Chvrches perform; Welcome to Night Vale)

8PM - American Idol (120 min.)

(check your local listing for starting time/programming)
8PM - Nature: The Funkiest Monkeys
9PM - NOVA: Ghosts of Murdered Kings
10PM - Hawking

8PM - Por Siempre Mi Amor
9PM - Lo Que La Vida Me Robó
10PM - Qué Pobres Tan Ricos

8PM - Arrow
9PM - The Tomorrow People

8PM - La Impostora
9PM - La Reina del Sur
10PM - Santa Diabla

11PM - The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Johnny Knowxville)
11:31PM - The Colbert Report (Sports figure Cris Carter)
12:01AM - @ Midnight (Randy Sklar; Jason Sklar; Nick Swardson)

11PM - Conan (Don Cheadle; comedian Bill Burr; band Hard Working Americans)

11PM - Chelsea Lately (Emma Roberts; writer Chris Franjola; comedian Sarah Colonna; Dustin Ybarra)

Check Local Listings - Arsenio (Paula Abdul; Monica Potter; Les Twins; Vernon Davis)
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TV Review
'Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond': His Wild Side
By Diane Werts, Newsday - Jan. 27, 2014

THE SHOW "Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond"

WHEN | WHERE Four weekly hours start Wednesday night at 10 on BBC America

James Bond author Ian Fleming had a wild life, and a wild imagination. Which was which?

Why worry? Dark-hued Dominic Cooper (PBS' "Sense & Sensibility") robustly embodies the spy creator-to-be (1908-1964) as a striking but self-obsessed twerp of privilege, jealous of his author-warrior older brother, resentful of his controlling widowed mother, playing callous cad to too many ladies of London. His Fleming has "one foot in the cradle, the other hurtling towards the grave." But then World War II transforms him from London's worst stockbroker to dirty-tricks visionary whose "healthy disregard for authority" helps him chart "the future of military espionage."

Fleming launches his naval intelligence career before the first hour ends, by which time he's bedding a cycle-riding babe in leather and being warned, "I'll have your guts for a necktie." Wednesday's episode also has an underwater spear-gun chase and a bombing raid where exploding windows rain down on the lip-locked lad and his most illicit paramour (Lara Pulver, from "Sherlock," as an equally betwixt baroness).

Coming up: spy school surprises, unnervingly rough sex, last-second getaways, fabulist storytelling, even crafty gadgets. Would we expect any less of the spy who loved her? The bloke with the license to kill? ("Fleming" winks so often at big-screen Bond, it'd make a mad drinking game.)

MY SAY I've never been much of a Bond girl, but I could be persuaded by this slick yet complex sketch of a lost soul whose vengeful daydreams strangely serve as his un-undoing. He's "a hero, a lover, a brute," whose colorful adventures tend toward the callous. Just the ticket for the movies. Not so much for real life. That's sharply explored by director Mat Whitecross ("The Road to Guantánamo"), fellow documentary-schooled scripter John Brownlow and co-writer Don Macpherson. Their saga is so vividly shaded, even minor characters resonate.

"Fleming's" propulsively delivered four hours end just as the war does, leaving ahead their lead's narrative writing and rocky marriage. Could Season 2 be on the way? Does James Bond announce his name twice?

BOTTOM LINE It's kinky. It's cunning. It's Bond.


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TV/Business Notes
TV Stations in Los Angeles to Share a Channel to Free Up Spectrum
By Edward Wyatt, The New York Times - Jan. 29, 2014

WASHINGTON — Two broadcast television stations in Los Angeles will become the first participants in a pilot test of the government’s plans to eventually free up and auction off more airwaves for use in wireless broadband, officials said on Tuesday.

The stations, KLCS, a public broadcaster, and KJLA, a small multilingual programmer, will participate in a channel-sharing experiment that is being devised with the trade association for wireless phone carriers. The wireless companies are eager to get broadcasters to give up airwaves so they can buy them and use them for high-speed wireless Internet connections.

The experiment is intended to show the extent to which broadcast channels can be squeezed together on the electromagnetic spectrum without degrading the quality of their signals. If the experiment goes as planned, no changes will be visible to consumers, who will continue to tune in to the same channels on their television sets.

But the eventual result could be quite significant for consumers — less wireless phone congestion and better connections for smartphones to fast wireless Internet service.

Government officials, though not involved in this trial, are likely to be watching the results closely. If successful, the trial will go a long way toward proving the viability of the plans of the Federal Communications Commission for what it calls an incentive auction of airwaves. In those auctions, television stations that give up some or all of their space on the broadcast spectrum will receive money from the auction sales.

“Channel-sharing represents a unique option for broadcasters that wish to continue to broadcast over-the-air programming, while also taking advantage of the incentive auction’s once-in-a-lifetime financial opportunity,” said Justin Cole, an F.C.C. spokesman. “We welcome this pilot project proposal, and look forward to reviewing it closely.”

The federal agency has fervently pitched the incentive auction to broadcasters, promoting the fact that station owners could receive a big check from auction proceeds for giving up their spectrum rights entirely or moving to another spot on the dial.

Each television station is allotted six megahertz of spectrum. But since the conversion to digital broadcasting from analog, stations have been able to use their allotment more efficiently. That has allowed them to broadcast multiple signals in a single channel band. For example, KJLA broadcasts 10 different signals, eight of them in Vietnamese, one in Mandarin and one in English and Spanish.

The broadcasting industry’s lobbying group has voiced general concern about the auctions, saying that broadcasters need to maintain adequate slices of spectrum to allow for new and innovative services. “We will continue to work with any interested parties to make the process as simple as possible should stations seek to go this route,” said Dennis Wharton, an executive vice president for the National Association of Broadcasters.

The incentive auctions are part of the Obama administration’s plan to convert a vast portion of airwaves designated for use by over-the-air television broadcasters to use by wireless broadband providers. The F.C.C. has said it hopes to conduct the auctions in 2015.

Alan Popkin, the director of engineering at KLCS, which broadcasts on Channel 58 in Los Angeles, said the station was hopeful that “the pilot program will provide broadcasters around the country with real-world data to evaluate the opportunity to channel-share in the upcoming spectrum auction.”

The experiment is important because it is not yet known whether television stations, which several years ago converted to digital broadcasting from analog, can squeeze their broadcast signals closer together on smaller swaths of spectrum without the signals interfering with one another.

Officials from the stations and from CTIA-The Wireless Association, the trade group that is co-sponsoring the tests, said that the pilot tests would occur in the first quarter of this year if they were approved quickly by the F.C.C.

The agency is still in the early stages of shaping the auction process. As a result, few if any broadcasters have committed to participate.

“We need to know technically, policywise and operationally whether this will work,” said Lonna Thompson, chief operating officer for the Association of Public Television Stations.

Neither KJLA, Channel 57 in Los Angeles, which will temporarily give up its spectrum, nor KLCS, which will host that station on its own spectrum, have committed to the auction. When the pilot test concludes, both stations will go back to broadcasting on their normal frequencies.

It is unclear whether KLCS will have enough room on its slice of spectrum to broadcast all 10 channels of KJLA’s programming as well as its own four digital channels. KLCS is one of three stations in the Los Angeles area affiliated with PBS. Since its beginning in 1972, the station has been owned by the Los Angeles Unified School District, and some of its programming is school-related.

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Critics' Notes
Addition by subtraction
Actors (or hosts) who improved a show by leaving
By Marah Eakin, Erik Adams, Phil Dyess-Nugent, Noah Cruickshank and Mike Vago, AVClub.com - Jan. 29, 2014

1. Lisa Bonet, A Different World
On the eve of the departure of Rob Lowe and Rashida Jones from Parks And Recreation, it’s easy to feel a little wary about the future of the series. As Chris and Ann, Lowe and Jones have played such an integral part to the show’s arc and success that it’s “literally” hard to imagine the show without them. It could be helpful to remember, though, that sometimes the departure of a marquee player can be a good move for a TV show. That was certainly the case when a pregnant Lisa Bonet left A Different World after season one. The departure of The Cosby Show’s Denise Huxtable from Hillman College allowed the show’s stacked cast more room to breathe, and gave the writers more room to mess around with characters like Jasmine Guy’s Whitley Gilbert and Kadeem Hardison’s Dwayne Wayne. It was only after Bonet’s departure that the show really took off creatively, with the strong ensemble cast taking on everything from date rape to the 1992 L.A. riots. While the ratings for the show dropped a little after the first season, A Different World became the most popular show in black households starting in season two, a distinction that it held almost until the end of its run.

2. Paul Schneider, Parks And Recreation
Parks And Recreation took some time to find its legs; newcomers to the series are advised to skip the six-episode first season and begin with season two, when the show’s creators wisely tweaked the characters, made the show less like their previous creation, The Office, and gave Parks a more upbeat tone. One aspect they kept in the mix was the love triangle with over-enthusiastic government employee Leslie (Amy Poehler), BFF Ann (Rashida Jones), and city planner Mark (Schneider). The triangle ran its course quickly, and at the same time Schneider had less and less to do plot-wise, his wry, laid-back humor was no longer a good fit for the more energetic program Parks had become. When Schneider left after the second season, it wound up being a boon to the show. In searching for his replacement, the show auditioned both Rob Lowe and Party Down’s Adam Scott, and ended up hiring them both. The new blood gave the show a shot in the arm, as the two quickly became an essential part of the ensemble—at least, until this week, when both Lowe and Jones leave the show. It remains to be seen whether their departure works out equally well.

3. Craig Kilborn, The Daily Show
When The Daily Show debuted in 1996, it was a fairly straightforward satire of news broadcasts, and the role of plastic, smarmy talking head played right to Craig Kilborn’s natural abilities. Kilborn continued on as host even after being called out for making horribly sexist comments about show creator Lizz Winstead, who quit the show. But despite the scandal, David Letterman tapped Kilborn to replace Tom Snyder as his lead-out. Losing a host can be a death knell for this type of show, but Daily traded up in a big way when Jon Stewart took over the show. As it adapted to the new host’s intelligence and political acumen, the satire became more pointed: It was aimed at newsmakers as much as news broadcasters. Stock interviews with B-list celebrities gave way to legitimately engrossing discourse with intellectuals and heads of state. Under Kilborn, The Daily Show was an amusing half-hour. Under Stewart, it’s become an institution.

4. Shelley Long, Cheers
One of the most famous departures in television history, Shelley Long quit Cheers at the peak of the show’s success to pursue a largely unsuccessful movie career. As half of the show’s central romance—one so important to the show’s success that “Sam and Diane” are to sitcom romances what “Kleenex” is to facial tissue—it was reasonable to think her departure mark the beginning of the end for Cheers. Look no further than Two And A Half Men or That ’70s Show to see how well sitcoms usually fare, creative and commercially, after a lead departs. Cheers’ producers saved the show with a series of smart moves. Rather than looking for a clone of Long’s prissy, intellectual Diane, the show found an entirely different foil for Ted Danson’s Sam in the form of overanxious striver Rebecca (Kirstie Alley). With a different type of character in the lead, and a different comic sensibility from Alley, the show deftly changed from a he-said/she-said screwball comedy to one of the great ensemble hangout shows in TV history. In retrospect, losing Long probably saved the show creatively, as the central Sam-and-Diane storyline was beginning to wear thin. Rather than having to milk more seasons’ worth of material out of the same central relationship, the writers were able to start fresh, in effect creating a whole new, equally successful show using the building blocks left over from Long’s departure.

5. George Clooney, ER
It would be a grand understatement to say that ER’s original breakout star brought a certain amount of warmth and charm to Michael Crichton’s hospital drama. For five years, Clooney was the show’s main attraction, even as it became increasingly clear that his future held bigger things than being a TV heartthrob. His departure for the movies was supposed to be the beginning of the end for the show, especially as fellow cast members followed him to the exit in subsequent years. But instead of losing popularity, ER remained a hit, even with so many cast changes that by season 12, none of the original leads were on the show. Post-Clooney ER proved that the show’s format was bigger than any of its stars, as the series was second only to Law & Order as an enduring TV institution.

6. Jools Holland, Night Music
In its first season, the musical extravaganza Night Music (originally known as Sunday Night) featured an amazing number of fantastic guests, but struggled to find a coherent identity. Part of the problem was the decision to split the hosting duties between the leering pianist Jools Holland, with his “musical gangster” persona, and the easy-listening saxophonist David Sanborn. Under normal circumstances, it would be a fair assumption that Holland would be the host that was more fun to watch. But it soon became apparent that on a show where the guests were supposed to be the stars, and a typical episode might feature Sonny Rollins and Leonard Cohen dueting on “Who By Fire,” a little blandness at the center was exactly what was called for. By the start of the second season, Holland had packed his bags and returned to England, where he already had a successful career as a TV host, and Hal Willner had signed on as full-time “music coordinator,” which turned out to be the best trade since New York agreed to take that Babe Ruth guy off Boston’s hands.

7. Gregory Sierra, Miami Vice
When new-style cop show Miami Vice premiered in 1984, Gregory Sierra, who played the undercover-detective heroes’ boss, was the most recognizable face in the cast, thanks to his roles on such series as Barney Miller and Sanford And Son. His character—the stock warm, paternal precinct boss who sometimes yells at his bad boys for breaking the rules, but with the understanding that he’ll go to the mat for them—was highly familiar, too. Sierra held down the role for four episodes before deciding that the job was a non-starter and requesting that his character be killed off. His exit opened the door for Edward James Olmos, whose intense characterization of the replacement unit chief Castillo was the defining touch the series needed to distance itself from more conventional crime series. Olmos went on to win an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his performance.

8. George Dzundza and Paul Sorvino, Law & Order
George Dzundza originated the older-cop position on Law & Order as Detective Max Greevey, but grew increasingly frustrated when he realized that he was part of an ensemble show that would have little use for his character after the halfway mark of most episodes. He quit at the end of the first season, and was replaced by Paul Sorvino. Over the course of 31 episodes, Sorvino gave his character, Phil Cerreta, a degree of beefy warmth and intellectual cunning that Dzundza’s performance, which had seemed fine at the time, never came close to. But partway into the second season, Sorvino left to escape the rather hectic pace of a series shooting schedule. That cleared the way for Jerry Orbach to pick up the gauntlet as Detective Lennie Briscoe. Orbach gave a performance that made him the apotheosis of the senior-cop role and unofficial mascot of the NYPD. (Real cops loved the idea that this sharp-eyed cynic with a questionable past was one of their own.) On a show where heavy turnover among cast members had become the norm, Orbach played Briscoe for 12 years, right up until the actor’s death from prostate cancer.

9. Chloe Webb, China Beach
The Vietnam War series China Beach was set at a seaside evacuation hospital and R&R facility, and featured an ensemble cast headed by Dana Delany as an Army nurse. The concept for the show was to depict the war as seen through the eyes of the American women who got closest to it. The character of the USO performer Laurette Barber (Chloe Webb, best known for her movie debut in Sid And Nancy) seems meant to provide viewers who had trouble identifying with career medical personnel or the prostitute played by Marg Helgenberger someone they could relate to. But the idea that women—or anyone—would see themselves in the USO singer is borderline insulting: She’s supposedly come to Vietnam partly because she thinks that doing tinselly covers of Motown hits for shell-shocked GIs will make her a star, and partly because a combat zone strikes her as a good place to meet guys. Webb, whose character did little but pull attention away from the real drama at the show’s center, left at the end of the first season and was replaced by Megan Gallagher, whose character—an ambitious war reporter—at least had a good reason for being there.

10. Mischa Barton, The O.C.
Marissa Cooper dies in a car accident at the end of The O.C.’s third season, but the character’s true cause of death was “evolution of show.” Mischa Barton’s poor little rich girl was a central figure in The O.C.’s early stages, when the show was positioned as a run-of-the-mill teen soap with agreeable taste in music. But as focus and fan enthusiasm shifted toward quirkier residents of Newport Beach—portrait-of-sarcastic-Barsuk Records-informed-angst Seth Cohen, Marissa’s deceptively cunning best friend Summer Roberts—Barton wound up swallowed by a run of hackneyed plots and increasingly “scandalous” love interests. In interviews following her departure from The O.C., Barton alluded to exhaustion with the show’s production schedule, though it’s just as likely that her character had exhausted her potential. In Barton’s absence, Autumn Reeser was bumped up to series-regular status; her insecure overachiever Taylor Townsend gave The O.C. greater opportunity to be the smartass meta-soap that was too often masked by Marissa’s weekly crises. It was a creative renaissance, but not a commercial one, and The O.C. followed Marissa into the dark after an abbreviated fourth season.

11. Valerie Harper and Cloris Leachman, The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Archie Bunker may have outmatched Mary Richards in terms of ability to shepherd other characters into their own shows, but All In The Family never lost characters that were as crucial to its ensemble as Rhoda Morgenstern and Phyllis Lindstrom were to The Mary Tyler Moore Show. In a feat of tremendous TV fortitude, the most important female-driven comedy of the ’70s lost two of its bedrock actresses (Valerie Harper and Cloris Leachman) to spin-offs without stumbling. The key to Mary Tyler Moore’s continued success post-Rhoda and Phyllis were mid-series acquisitions Betty White and Georgia Engel. The energy and comic presence White and Engel brought to the show (White as vixenish TV host Sue Ann Nivens, Engel as sweet-but-naive Georgette Franklin) meshed with the brash personalities played by Harper and Leachman—but were also distinct enough to minimize the impact of Rhoda’s and Phyllis’ exits. White even managed to continue Mary Tyler Moore’s tradition of Emmy dominance, picking up the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy prize in 1975 and 1976—a category that was Harper and Leachman’s (and, in a one-time-only tie with All In The Family, Sally Struthers’) for the four prior ceremonies.

12. Denise Crosby, Star Trek: The Next Generation
It would be unfair to blame Denise Crosby for the mediocre quality of Star Trek: The Next Generation's first year, but her tenure as Tasha Yar is one of the many low points of the series’ debut season. Inconsistently written, Yar seemed grossly incompetent and undercut the show’s progressive vision of the future. The lack of attention paid to her character was Crosby’s reason for leaving the show, and after Tasha's death, the producers shuffled around the cast and eventually retooled the series, giving Michael Dorn’s Worf and LeVar Burton’s Geordi larger, more interesting roles, both of which contributed some of Star Trek: TNG’s strongest ongoing plotlines.

13. Katherine Heigl, Grey’s Anatomy
While Grey’s Anatomy was initially built as an ensemble show centered on the hellish lives of a group of new doctors, as the show aged, it gradually took on more and more characters. Older actors came on as colleagues and love interests, and younger actors showed up as a newer, more naïve crop of interns. That’s why it wasn’t that big of a deal when Katherine Heigl got fed up with the behind-the-scenes drama and demanding schedule of the show and asked for the departure of her character, Izzie Stevens. Though Heigl seemed like one the more promising stars on Grey’s at the time, what with the success of films like Knocked Up and 27 Dresses, it turned out that the show was strong enough to withstand the loss of one of its key players—especially one whose character had taken such a turn for the annoying.

post #92049 of 93675
Originally Posted by keenan View Post

Probably so, but the thrust of the action was to get interest generated, so why go with a low viewership platform? Is it money NBC is after, or more interest in the show which would gain NBC even larger sums of ad money? The indecipherable minds of network executives...

Remember, NBC is owned by the biggest cable company. Online services combined with OTA channels are rivals to traditional pay-tv, so they want to dilute programming on these services. As well as Amazon probably offering more money.
post #92050 of 93675
Originally Posted by dad1153 View Post

TV Notes
On The Air Tonight
WEDNESDAY 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 - Super Bowl's Greatest Commercials 2014

Last year dvrd this & FF thru the commercials....got thru it in 1 minute. biggrin.gif
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Critic's Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - Jan. 29, 2014

TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

Frank Sinatra, who co-stars, and whose film company produced this grim 1962 movie about brainwashing, political conspiracies and assassination attempts, was long thought to have withdrawn the film from circulation after John F. Kennedy was assassinated the following year, disturbed by the parallels between life and art. However, the movie wasn’t pulled for about a decade, and it turns out to have been because of a simple contract dispute with the movie distributor. No matter: The Manchurian Candidate is such a raw, hypnotic, disturbing drama, it doesn’t need any hype. Laurence Harvey and Angela Lansbury co-star – and Lansbury, in particular, is amazing. Much better than the 2004 remake.

PBS, 9:00 p.m. ET

“It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” is a famous war song that’s been around for more than a century now, but its reference to an obscure county in Ireland has new resonance today, because of an unexpected archaeological find there. In a remote peat bog, a worker finds a perfectly preserved human torso that becomes one of the coldest cold cases in history. Scientists date it to the Bronze Age, about 1000 BC – and historians theorize that the bodies found in that bog are those of ritually sacrificed royalty. Tonight’s Nova attempts to dig up the truth. Check local listings.

PBS, 10:00 p.m. ET

Stephen Finnigan directs, and is one of the writers of, this 2013 biographical documentary about Stephen Hawking, told with unprecedented access to the brilliant scientist’s private home movies and other revealing artifacts. Expect to be surprised, impressed, educated – and inspired. Check local listings.

Bravo, 10:00 p.m. ET
SEASON FINALE: Part 1 of 2.
Tonight’s installment sends the finalists to Hawaii, which is one reason I’ll watch. (Someday, I swear, I’ll actually go there, instead of just wearing its shirts and listening to its slack-key guitar music.) Another reason: the mystery ingredient around which the chefs must build their meals is that old Monty Python musical favorite: Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam… In other words, tonight’s Top Chef features Spamalot.

FX, 10:00 p.m. ET
Tonight’s finale, the final chapter of the Coven story line, plays like a witchly reality competition show. All the young witches at the academy compete in a trial in which each of them tackles “The Seven Wonders,” a gauntlet of magical acts they must perform to identify themselves as the next Supreme. Given what’s at stake, expect a bloodbath. And that’s just for starters.


* * * *

Critic's Notes
To Pete Seeger (Turn, Turn, Turn), There Was a Season - On 'The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour'
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - Jan. 29, 2014

Pete Seeger, who died Monday at age 94, ended a 17-year prime-time TV blacklist of his talents by performing triumphantly in 1967 on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour…

It was one of the best, most significant, most moving musical performances ever seen on that 1967-69 CBS variety series. Seeger, a seminal figure in the folk movement as a member of The Weavers in the 1950s, had been victimized as a target of McCarthyism, accused in the Communist witch-hunting publication Red Channels as one of hundreds of show-business figures with alleged Communist sympathies.

Seeger was denied work on television, except for a pair of unsponsored Sunday morning programs, for the next 17 years. Then, near the end of the first, unexpectedly successful season of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, producers were approached by CBS Chairman William S. Paley with a personal request: please quit making fun of then-President Lyndon B. Johnson, who had a habit of phoning CBS executives directly to complain. Paley asked what the brothers might like, that Paley might offer, in exchange for complying with his request. Paley was told that Tom and Dick Smothers had asked for Pete Seeger to be booked as a guest star on the show, but were told he couldn’t be hired. Paley said he could, and that was that – at least at first.

For the opening show of the second season in 1967, Seeger reported for duty with a collection of songs, including his own “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?,” a trio of sing-along numbers, and his newest composition: “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy,” an anti-Vietnam War allegory.

This was at the height of Johnson’s escalation of the Vietnam War, and when Seeger performed the song at the afternoon rehearsal for the show, CBS censors balked immediately. Seeger performed the song as part of his set during the evening taping as well – but when the Season 2 premiere was televised the following week, on Sept. 10, 1967, “Waist Deep” had been cut from the show. Tom Smothers immediately went to the press, giving interviews about how CBS had mistreated a musical institution and violated the spirit of the creative control the Smothers Brothers had been promised by CBS.

As months went by, Tom kept giving interviews, as did Seeger, protesting the excision of Seeger’s segment. Meanwhile, current events were quickly changing national attitudes about Vietnam significantly. In February 1968, CBS gave the Smothers Brothers permission to invite Seeger back on the series – and, specifically, to sing the song the network had considered inappropriate five months earlier. Seeger agreed, and in his second appearance that season on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, performed a medley of anti-war songs dating from different wars in American history, followed by a proudly defiant, emotionally gripping version of “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy.”

His Feb. 25, 1968 performance is one of my favorite moments from The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.

The appearance’s final, ironic punch line was that “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy,” while never mentioning Johnson by name, was an obvious attack on LBJ and his war policy. When Seeger sings “Waist deep in the Big Muddy / And the big fool says to push on,” there is little doubt about whom, or what, Seeger is referring.

What a song. What a moment. What a man.

When I started work on my 2009 book about the Smothers Brothers – Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story of ‘The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour’ – the first person I interviewed, in 1992, was Pete Seeger. It was a practical as well as biographical decision, because Seeger was 73 years old then, and I was worried that he might not live that much longer.

I shouldn’t have worried. Pete Seeger lived another 21 years.

“Singing on The Smothers Brothers was one of the high points in my long life,” Seeger told me back in 1992. “I look back on it with pleasure…

“Maybe the song did some good,” he added with understandable pride, and a little impishness. “President Johnson decided not to run again a month after I finally got it on the air.”


post #92052 of 93675
Originally Posted by mhufnagel View Post

Remember, NBC is owned by the biggest cable company. Online services combined with OTA channels are rivals to traditional pay-tv, so they want to dilute programming on these services. As well as Amazon probably offering more money.
Yes, I was sort of alluding to the Comcast connection with the net execs comment. And Amazon likely did offer more money. The money, and Amazon not being a threat to Comcast while Netflix is probably their number one competitor no doubt contributed in the decision to go with a low viewership service.
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TV Notes
Local News Viewership Rises in 2013 Thanks to Obamacare, Manhunts and Tornadoes (Study)
By Brent Lang, TheWrap.com - Jan. 29, 2014

There may be more ways to catch up on the day’s events then ever before, but the onslaught of digital news sources didn’t take a chunk out of the audiences for local TV newscasts last year.

Obamacare’s dicey launch, the manhunt for murderer Christopher Dorner, tornadoes and floods drove local news viewership up during 2013, according to a new study but the Pew Research Center.

The audience for morning news (5 to 7 a.m.) rose 6 percent, early evening broadcasts (5 to 7 p.m.) climbed 3 percent and late night newscasts (11 p.m.) experienced a negligible .1 percent bump.

“One likely reason for the 2013 audience growth was the number of major news events that broke during the sweeps periods,” Research Analyst Katerina Eva Matsa wrote, noting that those November and February periods coincided with the launch of the president’s healthcare law, the Dorner pursuit and the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.

Although local news remains the top news source for 71 percent of adults — a higher percentage than depend on cable and broadcast — viewership has fallen precipitously. Late news programs shed a sixth of their audience in the past six years, while early evening news fell 12 percent and morning newscasts lost 3 percent of viewers, Pew notes.

post #92054 of 93675
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)
NBC wins Tuesday with State of the Union
Averages a 1.5 in 18-49s, just ahead of No. 2 CBS
By Toni Fitzgerald, Media Life Magazine - Jan. 29, 2013

It was an irregular night on broadcast Tuesday with President Obama’s State of the Union address airing at 9 p.m.

NBC finished first among the broadcasters, though all the networks drew generally low numbers for the speech.

NBC drew a 1.4 adults 18-49 rating for speech coverage from 9 to 11 p.m., according to Nielsen overnights.

CBS was second with a 1.3 from 9 to just past 10:30 p.m., with a repeat of “Two and a Half Men” filling out the final half hour.

ABC averaged a 1.1, though it, too, aired a comedy repeat at the end of that block (“The Goldbergs).

And Fox posted a 1.0 for the speech.

All these numbers are subject to change when final ratings come out later today. The speech aired live across the country, and overnight ratings don’t account for time zone differences; also, they measure only full half hours. The speech did not end on a regular half hour.

More accurate numbers, including the total number who watched the speech, should be released this afternoon.

NBC also had the No. 1 overall program of the night, “The Biggest Loser,” which posted a 1.7 at 8 p.m. Fox’s “Dads” was the only other original show on the Big Four last night, drawing a 1.5 at 8 p.m.

The CW did not broadcast the SOTU, and it seemed to benefit from being the lone entertainment option among the Big Five.

“Supernatural,” which aired opposite Obama at 9 p.m., had its most-watched episode since 2010, drawing 2.79 million viewers. It also matched its season high among adults 18-49 with a 1.2.

NBC was first for the night among 18-49s with a 1.5 average overnight rating and a 4 share. CBS and Univision tied for second at 1.3/3, CW and Fox tied for fourth at 1.1/3, ABC was sixth at 1.0/3 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-nine percent of Nielsen households have DVRs.

At 8 p.m. NBC was first with a 1.7 for “Loser,” followed by CBS with a 1.5 for a repeat of “NCIS.” Fox was third with a 1.4 for “Dads” (1.5) and a repeat of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (1.2). ABC and Univision tied for fourth at 1.1, ABC for a repeat of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and Univision for “Por Siempre Mi Amor,” CW was sixth with a 1.0 for “The Originals” and Telemundo seventh with a 0.6 for “La Impostora.”

NBC and Univision tied for first at 9 p.m. with a 1.5, NBC for the president and Univision for “Lo Que La Vida Me Robo.” CBS was third with a 1.3 for Obama, CW fourth with a 1.2 for “Supernatural,” and ABC fifth at 1.1 and Fox sixth at 1.0, both for the SOTU. Telemundo placed seventh with a 0.8 for “La Reina del Sur.”

At 10 p.m. NBC led with a 1.4 for more State of the Union and the Republican response, with Univision second with a 1.2 for “Que Pobres Tan Ricos.” ABC and CBS tied for third at 1.0 for the end of their State of the Union coverage and comedy repeats, and Univision was fifth with a 0.5 for “Santa Diabla.”

CBS was first for the night among households with a 5.2 average overnight rating and an 8 share. NBC was second at 3.7/6, ABC third at 2.8/4, Fox fourth at 1.9/3, Univision fifth at 1.6/3, CW sixth at 1.5/2 and Telemundo seventh at 0.8/1.


* * * *

TV Notes
‘Miley Cyrus Unplugged,’ and undressed
What will the former Disney Channel star do to shock America?

The last time Miley Cyrus performed on MTV, she unleashed the twerk seen ‘round the world.

Cyrus’ gyrating, tongue-baring performance on the “MTV Video Music Awards” last August sent social media sites into a frenzy and helped boost ratings for the program 65 percent over the previous year.

Little surprise MTV would want her back. Tonight Cyrus will perform on “Miley Cyrus Unplugged,” airing at 9 p.m.

Undoubtedly she’ll do something equally outrageous. On the “VMAs,” she not only danced suggestively with Robin Thicke and a giant teddy bear, she also wore a barely there skin-colored outfit that made it look as though she was nude.

“Unplugged,” which bowed in 1989, features big-name artists playing in small venues on acoustic instruments, giving their songs a new sound and a more intimate feel. Everyone from Nirvana to Duran Duran to Paul McCartney to Alicia Keys has appeared on the program.

It leaked out this week that Madonna will be joining Cyrus on “Unplugged,” which makes perfect sense. Just as Madonna once scandalized people with her sexy antics, Cyrus seems determined to titillate in an attempt to distance herself from her past as a Disney child star in “Hannah Montana.”

What Cyrus and Madonna plan to do together is unclear, but knowing their penchant for over-the-top antics, it’ll be something that creates a lot of buzz on social media once again.

With all the Miley-Madonna hype, and the added social media buzz, “Unplugged” should do much better than the show that aired in the 9 p.m. Wednesday timeslot last week on MTV, a repeat of “Teen Mom 2,” which averaged a 0.4 adults 18-49 rating and 764,000 total viewers, according to Nielsen.

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Business/Legal Notes
Judge Blocks Class Action Lawsuit Over Lakers and Dodgers Channels
By Eriq Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter's 'Hollywood Esq.' Blog - Jan. 29, 2014

If given the choice between seeing live professional sports or having a lighter cable bill, surveys show that most consumers would prefer the latter. But it will probably take an act of Congress to do anything for these budget-minded TV viewers.

On Tuesday, L.A. Superior Court Judge Amy Hogue shot down a lawsuit filed last June against Time Warner Cable and two Los Angeles sports teams.

In the class action, the plaintiffs objected to being forced to pay about $4-$5 in additional cable fees per month. The lawsuit came after TWC spent $3 billion for Los Angeles Lakers telecast rights and $8 billion for Los Angeles Dodgers telecast rights. Afterward, the cost was allegedly passed along to cable subscribers.

"A very large segment of the consuming public is not sufficiently interested in Dodgers games to pay $50-$60 per year, but they have no way of unsubscribing from either the Lakers or Dodgers telecast, which together will add (or will if unrestrained) about $100 per year to the subscriber's TWC bill," stated the complaint.

The billions of dollars thrown toward the Lakers and Dodgers impacts cable and satellite subscribers across the country.

TWC sublicenses Lakers TV rights to other television distributors, including Cox, DirecTV, AT&T U-Verse and Verizon FiOS. In doing so, TWC requires that distributors offer the Lakers channels on their enhanced basic cable tiers.

In reaction to the class-action lawsuit, TWC pointed to the Cable Communications Act of 1984, which expressly authorizes cable companies to offer programming in bundled "tiers of service."

That's enough to get Judge Hogue to acknowledge that federal law forbids the application of a state law like California's Unfair Competition Law that would undermine a cable operator's authority to add or delete channels in its "enhanced basic service" tier.

"It may be that any number of consumers would reasonably consider the practice of adding a new cable channel to an existing tier of service (rather than offering it as a separate channel) and charging more for the service is somehow "unfair," wrote Judge Hogue. "But the fact remains that federal law expressly allows it and expressly forbids states from invoking their own consumer protection laws to interfere with the deregulated structure imposed by Congress."

The judge dismissed the lawsuit against all the defendants. She did so without leave to amend, meaning that it's over, notwithstanding any appeal.

The Los Angeles Lakers are 16-30 so far this season. That, at least, is their record on the basketball court.

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Business/TV Notes
Networks Try New Routes for Pilot Season as Timetable Takes Dramatic Turn
By Cynthia Littleton, Variety.com - Jan. 29, 2014

A funny thing happened on the way to pilot season. The timetable for development and production shifted dramatically while nobody was really paying attention.

Kevin Reilly, chairman of Fox Entertainment, brought the shift into sharp relief when he declared triumphantly to a roomful of journalists at the winter Television Critics Assn. press tour: “R.I.P. pilot season.”

Several generations of broadcast television execs have tried to do away with the frenetic January-April timetable for greenlighting, casting, shooting and fine-tuning dozens of pilots. The period has long been dictated by the mad dash to the mid-May upfronts, where the Big Four tout their new fall wares to advertisers.

Instead of loudly lamenting a flawed process, execs at Fox and NBC, in particular, got busy breaking the cycle with orders for pilots and straight-to-series greenlights coming well before Thanksgiving.

The movement this year was prodded by a confluence of forces: heightened competition for top projects and creatives from cable; the hunt for cheaper ways to produce series; and the push by the nets to offer original programming on a year-round basis.

Fox has taken the biggest leap, with four series orders and three pilot pickups, most of which were done before Christmas. Plus it has three limited series, “Wayward Pines,” “Gracepoint,” and “24: Live Another Day,” in various stages of production.

Reilly made it clear that Fox was determined to break with tradition by ordering more pilots and “series prototypes” (aka a first episode that remains a work in progress while additional scripts are written) in the coming weeks, but delaying production until the summer or later in order to give creatives time to hone their vision.

In fact, time may be the biggest luxury that broadcast TV stands to gain by loosening the chains of pilot season. Reilly made it clear he’s taking a page from the cable model (one he helped forge in his previous gig at FX) by orchestrating schedules in order to allow for a much longer span between production and premiere. Comedies will in many cases have assembled a staff of writers while the pilot is in the works, in order to get to the best feel for where a show goes after the first episode.

Reilly’s peers at ABC, CBS and NBC had varied reactions to the declarations he made about Fox’s approach. But actions speak louder than words. Each of the majors is feeling its way through new ways of birthing programs, at long last.

No matter how they turn out, many in the TV biz are ready to celebrate with a cigar.

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Nielsen Notes
State of the Union, With 33.3 Million Viewers, Hits 14-Year Low
By Michael O'Connell, The Hollywood Reporter's 'Live Feed' Blog - Jan. 29, 2014

With final ratings in for the State of the Union address, Nielsen Media puts the grand total just shy of last year's for a 14-year low.

The gross average audience of 13 networks airing President Barack Obama's speech puts viewership at 33,299,172. That's down from the 33.5 million that tuned in for the 2013 speech for its lowest showing since 2000. (President Bill Clinton's final address in office averaged 31,478,000.)

Among the networks carrying the address live were CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX, Azteca, Fox Business, Fox News Channel, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, Al Jazeera America, Galavision and Mun2.

In the cable news race, Fox News Channel came out on top as the only network to grow its State of the Union audience year over year.

Nielsen, in its first State of the Union also measuring Twitter, gives 2.1 million tweets and an audience of 8.8 million users to the speech's social footprint.

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Nielsen Notes
Fox renews 'Bones' for a 10th season
By Yvonne Villareal, Los Angeles Times' 'Show Tracker' Blog - Jan. 29, 2014

Fox isn't burying the bones just yet.

The network announced Wednesday that it has renewed its long-running drama "Bones" for a 10th season -- oh, and it's moving the show once again to Mondays, too.

Currently in its ninth season, with a new episode airing this Friday, the series will return to Mondays beginning March 10. The renewal announcement will help the crime procedural, starring Emily Deschanel as a forensic anthropologist and David Boreanaz as an FBI special agent, reach its milestone 200th episode.

“Over the course of nine seasons, 'Bones' has grown from a hit crime procedural into a beloved pillar of our lineup that resonates with fans in a way that only the best of shows can,” said Fox's chairman of entertainment, Kevin Reilly. “Our viewers have embraced Emily, David and the entire cast and characters of 'Bones' as their very own, and I think they are going to love what [executive producers] Hart Hanson and Stephen Nathan have planned for Season 10!”

"Bones" has jumped around the network's primetime grid several times during its run. Last fall, it moved to Friday nights at 8 p.m., all the while managing to maintain some of its stride. The current season is averaging 8.6 million viewers and a 2.4 rating in the key demographic of adults ages 18 to 49.

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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 - The Taste (120 min.)
10PM - Shark Tank
(R - Nov. 15)
* * * *
11:35PM - Jimmy Kimmel Live! (Zac Efron; Alison Brie; Sara Bareilles performs)
12:37AM - Nightline

8PM - The Big Bang Theory
8:31PM - The Millers
9:01PM - The Crazy Ones
9:31PM - Two and a Half Men
10:01PM - Elementary
* * * *
11:35PM - Late Show with David Letterman (Dr. Phil McGraw; car restorer Danny Koker; Dum Dum Girls performs)
12:37AM - Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (Max Greenfield; ZZ Ward performs)

8PM - Community
8:30PM - Parks and Recreation
9PM - Saturday Night Live Presents a SNL Sports Spectacular (Special, 120 min.)
* * * *
11:34AM - The Tonight Show With Jay Leno (Miley Cyrus; comic Howie Mandel; Sarah McLachlan performs)
12:36AM - Late Night With Jimmy Fallon (Melissa McCarthy; David Crosby performs)
1:36AM - Last Call With Carson Daly (Writer Liz Meriwether; K. Flay performs; "Friday Night Tykes'')

8PM - American Idol
9PM - Rake

(check your local listing for starting time/programming)
8PM - The 'This Old House' Hour
9PM - Masterpiece Mystery! Sherlock, Series III: The Sign of Three (120 min.)
(R - Jan. 26)

8PM - Por Siempre Mi Amor
9PM - Lo Que La Vida Me Robó
10PM - Qué Pobres Tan Ricos

8PM - The Vampire Diaries
9PM - Reign

8PM - La Impostora
9PM - La Reina del Sur
10PM - Santa Diabla

11PM - The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi)
11:31PM - The Colbert Report (NFL player Drew Brees)
12:01AM - @ Midnight (Randy Sklar; Jason Sklar; Brody Stevens)

11PM - Conan (Gen. Ray Odierno; Josh Hopkins)
Midnight - The Pete Holmes Show (Rory Scovel)
(R - Nov. 13)

11PM - Chelsea Lately (Vanessa Hudgens; comic John Caparulo; comedian Fortune Feimster; comedian Julian McCullough)

Check Local Listings - Arsenio (Steve 'Stone Cold' Austin; Lamorne Morris; Helen Hong)
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TV Notes
Benedict Cumberbatch's very big year
By Bill Keveney, USA Today - Jan. 30, 2014

PASADENA, Calif. – Benedict Cumberbatch has had a memorable year, including roles in five major films, but he's trying to look forward.

"You can't get too nostalgic. You can look back and go, 'That was a great year, a great moment,' but I want 2014 to be better for different reasons. I've got personal goals and all sorts of things that I want to evolve. I always have been about building a career of longevity," he says during an interview to discuss PBS' Sherlock (third-season finale, Sunday, 10 p.m. ET/PT, times may vary).

Cumberbatch's contemporary take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's iconic character became more personal this year, as Holmes' parents were portrayed by his mother and father — actors Wanda Ventham and Timothy Carlton. In one scene, Sherlock unceremoniously shoos them from the room when Watson arrives.

Working with his parents was "terrific. Sort of like home, really. Alarmingly so, for those who know our relationship off screen," he jokes. "It was a beautiful thing. ... It was the first day of shooting and I was nervous for them. And then I realized, now I really have to take control of this, and I just started to kind of make sure that they felt all right. And they ended up having a really good day."

He credits his parents and actors they introduced him to for his desire to pursue the same career, but there "wasn't one Saul-on-the-road-to-Damascus moment of inspiration. It was just an accumulation, really."

That has led to an accumulation of significant roles, too, for the London-born actor.

Cumberbatch, 37, finished work in December on The Imitation Game, an upcoming film in which he plays real-life British mathematician and World War II code breaker Alan Turing.

He plans to take on another real Brit, the explorer Percy Fawcett, in The Lost City of Z, a film about "this rather brilliant, rather lovely Victorian man who just became obsessed with this discovery he made in the Amazon jungle" in the early 20th Century. The melancholy Dane, Hamlet, is on the actor's schedule for fall on the London stage.

And Sunny March, the production company he started with friends just produced a short film that he appears in, Little Favour.

All of this comes on the heels of a remarkable year. Since May, he has appeared on the big screen in five major films, including an Oscar best-picture nominee,12 Years a Slave; an ensemble piece earning praise for its cast, August: Osage County; a lead role as Julian Assange in The Fifth Estate; and two blockbuster sequels, Star Trek Into Darkness and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. It can be difficult, even for a man of Cumberbatch's quick intelligence, to remember every detail.

"Five films come out and they're so different. From Khan (Trek) to Smaug to Julian Assange to Ford (Slave) to …," he says, pausing. "You see, this is the problem. I actually then start forgetting what the other role was. (Another pause.) To Little Charles in August: Osage County. And that's when it is literally an embarrassment of riches."

He credits Sherlock, which premiered in 2010, with providing a big career boost, but says he was landing roles for 2011 productions — War Horse and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy on film and Frankenstein at the Royal National Theater in England — at about the same time with major directors who hadn't seen him play the iconic sleuth.

Sherlock has "done a lot. I won't say it's changed my life, because I had a huge break at the same time as this role first came to fruition," says Cumberbatch, substituting a sleek blue suit for Sherlock's layered look on this warm winter day. "It was a sort of perfect storm of all mediums coming together at the same time, television, film and theater, even some radio."

Cumberbatch has a rare star quality that makes viewers root for the often difficult Holmes, Sherlock co-creator Steven Moffat says.

"I think he's capable of being aloof and dangerous and (being able to) do, with complete honesty, every beat of unlikable behavior, and yet you still like him," he says. "The other thing you have to say is he's one of the best actors alive. He's absolutely supreme."

During an interview earlier in the day with a gathering of TV critics, Cumberbatch expresses appreciation for the accompanying fame, as exhibited by a group of fans outside the hotel who had waited for hours to see him. Asked an open-ended question about his reaction to the rise in public interest in the later interview, he responds, "Detached amusement," and focuses on press criticism. Stories have focused on matters as varied as his blue-chip schooling to a photograph in which he held a sign directing paparazzi to cover more important events in Egypt.

"Sometimes, they go after you and they really try to make you hurt, and that's when you've got to have a thick skin and just let it brush off you. I've spoken to people in more exalted positions than mine and they're like, 'Dude, it's just Champagne problems,' " he says.

He talks expansively and thoughtfully about his career and fame, but draws the line on certain topics. He declines to answer a question about rumors he will reunite with Trek director J.J. Abrams for the next Star Wars film, which is scheduled to begin shooting in May, and he won't elaborate on the "personal goals" he mentions for 2014. "They're personal. Not for publication."

The actor, who is single, also brushes off a question about whether he's dating anyone in particular, but politely cushions his response. "I know you have to ask."

He responds to questions with equanimity, although he thinks a query about whether he's excited to play Hamlet, the central character in what is arguably Shakespeare's greatest play is a bit obvious. ("Very excited. I don't know what other answer there would be to that question," he says, then feigns a lack of interest. "No, I'm really not that bothered.")

He expresses displeasure only when an interviewer mentions that the late Turing received a royal pardon recently for 1950s criminal charges of gross indecency related to homosexuality. "The only person that should be pardoning anybody is him. Hopefully, the film will bring to the fore what an extraordinary human being he was and how appalling (his treatment by the government was). It's a really shameful, disgraceful part of our history," he says of his Imitation Game character.

Although a fourth season of Sherlock has not been officially approved, Cumberbatch has verbally committed to it and says he sees room for character growth. "I'll keep doing it as long as that's the case, as long as I feel he's developing and there's stuff we're all being challenged by and that it's being loyal to the original stories as well."

When the third season opens, Cumberbatch says Sherlock has regressed socially and emotionally after having been off neutralizing archnemesis Moriarty's network of evildoers in the two years since his staged suicide at the end of Season 2. His return draws the ire of sidekick John Watson (Martin Freeman), who had thought his friend was dead. (The Season 3 opener drew 4 million viewers, up 25% from the second-season premiere, and Sunday's second episode attracted 2.9 million viewers.)

Freeman "raised my game. That's all important when you're doing a piece that's about a relationship as well as this particularly brilliant mind," he says, before going off on a humorous detour. "He's got good taste in clothes and music, which helps. He's got good hygiene. That always helps. He can be quite grumpy, which doesn't always help. I can be quite grumpy, which always helps."

Sherlock evolves this season, Cumberbatch says, serving as best man at John's wedding to Mary (Amanda Abbington) in last week's episode and facing off Sunday against malicious, data-hoarding publisher Charles Augustus Magnussen. "He's this media mogul who wields his leverage by using information — as people do, as newspapers do, as all media does — to control a message, to control a perception of the world."

The series explores the effects of childhood on the adult Sherlock, partly through his competition with his brother Mycroft (Mark Gatiss).

"He wasn't born to be an antisocial, difficult boy," he says. "I think he's trying to keep up with Mycroft's intelligence and it skewed the normal trajectory of childhood play and friendships in order to try and perfect this brain, this ability to retain information."

Cumberbatch says he wanted a Sherlock backstory so he could understand and convey how this man came to be.

"It will just be hollow gestures and running around speaking very fast — which, while some of our harshest critics have said that's what I do, I beg to differ, especially after ... this season. They can see there's some acting going on, some craft going on. That's important to me," says Cumberbatch, veering off before returning to his main point. "You can't just be brilliant in a vacuum. ... It would be like, 'Wow! This guy is really on it,' but then you'd want to know something about him."

With so many film, TV and stage roles done in such a short time, Cumberbatch has had to do more than just speak quickly.

"I found it difficult to get the sort of hyperarticulacy of Sherlock back having played Assange, and I found it sort of weirdly difficult to let go of Sherlock before starting Alan Turing," he says. "I practice very hard to sort of cleanse myself of every role after I've done it."

For all the recent high-profile film roles, an earlier miniseries character, 1920s Englishman Christopher Tietjens of Parade's End, inspires him the most.

"He's just sort of unfathomably generous and patient and yet really quietly courageous. He doesn't suffer hypocrisy or fools gladly. He doesn't betray himself or his ideals for any quick fixes. He's just a good human being," he says. "I've got a very big affection for that man. If I can live a life half as good as his, I will know I have done alright."

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Critic's Notes
‘American Idol,’ at 13, Is Trying to Stay Relevant
By Alessandra Stanley, The New York Times - Jan. 30, 2014

Audiences, like French presidents, can’t always be trusted.

“American Idol” is learning the lesson that Valérie Trierweiler, the recently discarded first consort of France, was dealt when President François Hollande turned out to have a younger mistress.

“American Idol” still has good bones. Particularly with this season’s cosmetic tweaks, this Fox show looks rosily well preserved and perhaps even better than last year and the one before. But it still can’t really compete with the other, younger singing competition.

“The Voice,” the hit NBC show that begins a sixth season in February, is a knockoff with some moves that lured away many “Idol” fans.

It could be chemistry, but usually it’s just math. Seniority isn’t much of a turn-on when something new comes along. The heart wants what the heart doesn’t already have.

“American Idol” now holds itself up as a national treasure in need of respect and customer loyalty, like the Smithsonian or PBS. The first episode opened with what looked like a political campaign ad. Young would-be contestants held up signs about their “dream” in a morning-in-America montage: farmers in cornfields, welders, fishermen. The show calls itself “iconic” and takes its mandate so seriously that some promos include a clip of the usually laid-back judge Harry Connick Jr. scolding a purposefully bad contestant who, as he puts it, “disrespected the process.”

There is something almost valiant about “American Idol” and its bid to stay relevant, or at least boost its ratings in its 13th season. The cast has changed again. Ryan Seacrest is still the host, but none of the original three judges are still there, and the current ones — Mr. Connick; Keith Urban, a judge last season; and Jennifer Lopez, a judge in two previous seasons — are appealing celebrities and genuine pop music stars. They banter gently with one another but are kind to contestants.

Yet even with more likable stars, “American Idol” is feeling its age. Beginning in 2002, “Idol” captured the national imagination as a saucy upstart, a cheerfully vulgar show that allowed nobodies to seek instant stardom — at the small cost of ridicule from Simon Cowell, one of the original judges and a creator of the series. For years, freakishly bad performances were part of the package. At its peak, “American Idol” was the nation’s most watched series; the Season 4 finale drew a record 38 million viewers. This season, the Jan. 15 premiere attracted 15.2 million viewers, down 16 percent from 17.9 million last winter, and the ratings have been slipping downward since then.

The tryouts this year are more streamlined. Some auditions are edited into medleys of three, a few contestants’ back stories (heartwarming) are woven right into their audition. Bad performances are cut mercifully short, losers and weirdos are spared humiliation. There are new features, including a metal isolation booth in which candidates wait, on camera, for the green light to flash.

But even with all the renovations, “Idol” tryouts seem antiquated next to the 3-D auditions on “The Voice,” where judges have their chairs turned backward, so they hear the voice before they see the physique. The judges then compete among themselves to see who will slam the buzzer first on a good prospect, and then they compete again by wooing a winning performer to their teams.

That conceit, which adds a bit of comeuppance to celebrity, may suit today’s more populist mood. Compared with that show’s dizzying pinball antics, “Idol” auditions seem like a game of mah-jongg.

And “Idol” isn’t hiding its gray hairs. It’s hard not to look your age when so many contenders say that they’ve been watching the show since they were babies. One of them, Tristen Langley, 15, is the son of a finalist from Season 1, Nikki McKibbin. (She came with him to his audition, and, pageant mom style, mouthed the words as he sang.)

The judges this season play into the generation gap. Mr. Connick, 46, winced gamely when a young singer said Ms. Lopez was her idol, then assured him that he, too, was a star.

“My mother loves you,” is how she put it.

Mr. Connick seems to enjoy the codger role, expressing shock at a teenager who has a treble clef tattoo. (Adam Levine, one of the judges on “The Voice,” has arms so ink mottled, he looks as if he is wearing an Oriental rug.) When it was time to vote, Mr. Connick playfully said to the boy, “I’m going to say no to the tattoo, but yes to you.”

Mr. Connick at least tries to enliven the show, making fun of himself and teasing his co-stars, but it’s a tough haul. Mr. Urban is handsome and good humored but not particularly charismatic. Ms. Lopez looks radiant, but she has surprisingly little pizazz; she presides regally over the auditions but is otherwise as sweet and insipid as a Disney princess.

“American Idol” isn’t what it used to be, of course. That kind of success can’t last forever. It is still a well-made show with a large, mixed-age audience. It may not be the most exciting competition on the air, but to its credit it is not trying to squeeze into tighter jeans and imitate younger, newer shows. Like many a woman of a certain age, “Idol” is trying to find a more dignified posture now that the bloom of youth has faded.

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Technology/Business Notes
Lenovo To Buy Motorola Mobility From Google For $2.91 Billion
By Matt Burns, Techcrunch.com - Jan. 29, 2014

TechCrunch has confirmed reports that Lenovo is buying Motorola Mobility from Google. This is the division within Google that the company purchased in 2011 for $12.5 billion. Motorola Mobility will go to Lenovo for $2.91 billion.

Of that $2.91 billion, $1.41 billion will be paid at the close of the deal. $660 million will be comprised of US cash and $750 million in Lenovo ordinary shares. The remaining $1.5 billion will be paid in the form of a three-year promissory note.

Google will maintain ownership of the vast majority of the Motorola Mobility patent portfolio. Lenovo will still receive 2,000 patent assets and the Motorola Mobility brand and trademark.

According to a separate report published by Reuters, Lenovo is being advised by Credit Suisse Group while Lazard Ltd advised Google on the transaction.

“As part of Lenovo, Motorola Mobility will have a rapid path to achieving our goal of reaching the next 100 million people with the mobile Internet. With the recent launches of Moto X and Moto G, we have tremendous momentum right now and Lenovo’s hardware expertise and global reach will only help to accelerate this,” said Dennis Woodside, CEO, Motorola Mobility, in a released statement.

According to our source, Google wanted to dump the asset for some time. The company had to hold off selling the division for tax reasons.

Motorola Mobility’s performance has yet to live up to its purchase price. Since Motorola split and its consumer division went to Google, it has been a constant source of red ink. Motorola lost quite a lot of money: $248 million in the last quarter alone. Google sums this well, noting that the loss was “-21% of Motorola Mobile segment revenues.” Motorola lost $192 million in the year-ago quarter, so the trend here isn’t positive.

Google previously sold off the cable box division of Motorola Mobility for $2.4 billion.

This comes just weeks after Google purchased the hot hardware startup Nest. Since then, Nest’s role in the budding conglomerate that Google is turning into has been widely speculated about. With Motorola gone, Nest’s superstar team that includes many former Apple engineers seemingly has an empty playground.

It seems this complete’s Lenovo’s quest for an established cell phone business. It was rumored back in October that the company submitted a bid for BlackBerry. That deal clearly didn’t pan out.

Simply buying its way to the top worked for Lenovo in the past. In 2005 Lenovo purchased IBM’s personal computer division for $1.25 billion. That purchase alone caused Lenovo to be the world’s third-largest computer maker. But, using the established brand, Lenovo scaled the PC division to become the largest shipper of PCs in the world. In the last months of 2013 Lenovo overtook HP.

Just last week, Lenovo announced a plan to buy IBM’s x86 server business for $2.3 billion.

As the dust settles on this deal, it’s clear that Google took a large loss on its venture with Motorola Mobility. Google acquired an established brand with a vast portfolio of patents, a mature distribution system and a knowledgeable manufacturing arm. Even after pouring money and resources into the historic American brand, Google couldn’t make lemonade with Motorola. Maybe Lenovo, the now-leader in personal computers, will have better luck.

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TV Notes
The CW orders 'Jane the Virgin' and terrorism thriller pilots
By James Hibberd, EW.com's 'Inside TV' Blog - Jan. 29, 2014

The CW ordered two drama pilots Wednesday, including one eyebrow-raising title about a religious young woman who is “accidentally artificially inseminated.”

In Jane the Virgin, “a series of surprising and unforeseen events causes a hard-working, religious young Latina woman to be accidentally artificially inseminated.”

The project is adapted from the successful Venezuelan telenovela Juana la Virgen. While it’s not clear yet how closely the show’s story will follow the original series, the Venezuelan version is about a 17-year-old who is impregnated due to a hospital error. After the baby’s biological father discovers the news, he falls in love with her despite being married. The show is from writer Jennie Snyder Urman (Emily Owens M.D., 90210) and producers Ben Silverman, Gary Pearl, Jorge Granier.

The network also ordered Identity. The logline: “When a young woman in need of a transplant learns she is related to a powerful family whose son is her only hope for a donor organ, the CIA approaches her to investigate the family’s involvement in domestic terrorism and to infiltrate their rarefied world. Her loyalty, morality and ethics are tested as she’s forced to slowly build a case against the family who saved her life.” That’s from writer Corinne Brinkerhoff and executive producers Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci, Heather Kadin and Rob Golenberg & Alon Aranya.

The projects represent the first two pilots ordered by The CW this season.


* * * *

TV Notes
The CW orders strange 'iZombie' drama pilot

The CW might soon have the weirdest zombie drama ever.

The network has given a pilot order to iZombie, a project based upon a DC Comics title with the same name.

For those unfamiliar with its premise: “A med student-turned-zombie takes a job in the coroner’s office to gain access to the brains she must reluctantly eat to maintain her humanity, but with each brain she consumes, she inherits the corpse’s memories. With the help of her medical examiner boss and a police detective, she solves homicide cases in order to quiet the disturbing voices in her head.”

So it’s like having a zombie series and a medical drama and a cop drama … all in one show! Plus, it’s showrunners are Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero (Veronica Mars). Earlier this month, The CW also announced plans for a Veronica Mars digital spin-off with Thomas.

The pickup comes in addition to two CW drama pilots ordered earlier today, plus two titles ordered much earlier in the season: The Flash starring Grant Gustin (that’s in addition to the two embedded pilots for the project that aired as part of Arrow this season) and the Supernatural spinoff, which now has a working title — Supernatural: Tribes.

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TV Notes
What To Watch On Super Bowl Sunday If You Hate Football
By Jessica Goodman, HuffingtonPost.com - Jan. 29, 2014

Ugh, football. One of America's favorite pastimes, filled with bulky men throwing themselves at one another, causing brain-damaging concussions. It's not for everyone.

If you're like one of the few million Americans who tune in to Animal Planet's annual Puppy Bowl, you know there are other things to watch on Super Bowl Sunday besides the actual Super Bowl. Here's what to watch if you hate football:

Zombie Bowl Marathon on AMC
"The Walking Dead" Season 4 returns to AMC on Sunday, Feb. 9, but the network will show a day-long marathon of the show starting at 10 a.m. EST on Feb. 2.

10th Annual Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet
Animal Planet's annual Super Bowl alternative is back! Watch adorable puppies play with each other on a miniature football field while kittens "perform" at the halftime show. But watch out for puppy, um, penalties, which are on full display. Puppy Bowl X starts at 3 p.m. EST and airs on loop all night.

Funny Movie Marathon on Comedy Central
Comedy Central will air back-to-back stoner comedies for the non-Super Bowl watchers who still want to salute Washington and Colorado's affinity for green. Tune in at 10:30 a.m. EST for "The Girl Next Door," "My Best Friend's Girl," "Austin Powers in Goldmembe" and "Dumb and Dumber."

All Day Rom-Com Heaven on FX
Let's assume that FX thinks women hate football and love romantic comedies. If they're correct, they're going to have a very one-sided demographic for their 16.5-hour rom-com movie marathon. Starting at 8:30 a.m. EST, they'll show "Little Black Book," "Made of Honor," "13 Going On 30," "Something Borrowed," "Crazy, Stupid Love" and "Friends With Benefits."

"Law & Order: SVU" Marathon on USA
It wouldn't be Sunday without an all-day "SVU" marathon on USA. Tune in, as per usual.

"Real Housewives of Atlanta" Marathon on Bravo
Starting at 10 a.m. EST
, Bravo will host a 12-hour marathon of "Real Housewives of Atlanta" before the series' new episode debuts at 10 p.m. EST.

"The Gabby Douglas Story" on Lifetime
Okay, so you're into sports. Kind of. Well, really you're just into the Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas. The Lifetime original movie about her life will debut on Saturday, Feb. 1, but the network will replay it at 9 p.m. EST on Super Bowl Sunday.

Binge Watch Anything, Literally Anything
Forget primetime and cable. Press play on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime originals. You only have two weeks to catch up on "House of Cards" before Season 2 comes out, so you'd better hurry up.

Ugh, fine. Super Bowl XLVIII kicks off Sunday, Feb. 2, 6 p.m. EST on Fox.

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TV Notes
'Banshee' Renewed for Third Season at Cinemax
By Kimberly Nordyke, The Hollywood Reporter's 'Live Feed' Blog - Jan. 30, 2014

Cinemax has renewed Banshee for a third season.

The network said Thursday that season three will debut in 2015. It's currently airing its second season at 10 p.m. Fridays.

The series centers on Lucas Hood (Antony Starr), an ex-con and master thief who tracks down Carrie Hopewell (Ivana Milicevic), his former lover and partner in crime, who has reinvented herself as the wife of the Banshee, Pa., prosecutor. In Banshee, Hood assumes the identity of the town’s sheriff and continues his criminal activities, even as he’s hunted by the shadowy gangsters he betrayed years earlier.

The series counts True Blood’s Alan Ball, Jonathan Tropper, David Schickler, Peter Macdissi and House’s Greg Yaitanes as executive producers.

Banshee recently returned to a series high for a first-run episode, averaging just shy of 500,000 viewers in its Jan. 10 sophomore return. The series, like most pay cable fare, sees its bigger lifts in time-shifting and views on other platforms. The first season of Banshee averaged 727,000 viewers in live-plus-7, easily eclipsing previous Cinemax original efforts.

In September, Banshee received a Primetime Emmy for special visual effects.

Coming up, Cinemax also has other original drama efforts including The Knick, directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring Clive Owen, which debuts in the summer. Meanwhile, action series Strike Back is filming its fourth and final season.

Michael O'Connell contributed to this report.

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Washington/Business Notes
Wireless Mergers Will Draw Scrutiny, Antitrust Chief Says
By Edward Wyatt, The New York Times - Jan. 30, 2014

WASHINGTON — The nation’s leading antitrust enforcer said this week that it would be difficult for the Justice Department to approve a merger among any of the top four wireless phone companies, casting doubt on recent speculation that T-Mobile and Sprint might consummate a deal in coming months.

William J. Baer, assistant attorney general for the antitrust division, said in an interview that further consolidation among the top wireless carriers would face intense scrutiny because consumers have enjoyed “much more favorable competitive conditions” since the division blocked a proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile in 2011.

“It’s going to be hard for someone to make a persuasive case that reducing four firms to three is actually going to improve competition for the benefit of American consumers,” he said, without referring to any specific merger proposal. “Any proposed transaction would get a very hard look from the antitrust division.”

Mr. Baer said that the division would similarly scrutinize any proposed merger among cable television companies. Analysts say that the cable market has evolved in recent years from a largely local market to a national one, where advertising, programming and sometimes subscription rates are set nationally.

This month, Charter Communications offered $37.8 billion to acquire Time Warner Cable, the country’s second-largest cable operator. Time Warnerrejected the offer as inadequate.

Since then, Comcast has been reported to be interested in buying some of Time Warner Cable’s markets from Charter if the deal goes through.

That kind of merger and divestiture proposal has been common in recent years, including most recently in the settlement of the government’s antitrust case that sought to block US Airways’ merger with American Airlines. There, the two airlines agreed that the combined carrier would give up a certain number of gates as well as takeoff and landing slots at certain busy airports, including Washington’s Reagan National, La Guardia in New York and O’Hare in Chicago.

But Mr. Baer is expected to warn a group of antitrust lawyers on Thursday that the antitrust department too often sees merger proposals that include little more than token efforts to deal with competitive issues.

Those fig leaf offers are often an attempt to disguise what is essentially an effort to eliminate a big market participant, Mr. Baer is expected to say, while giving up something to a tiny competitor that, in truth, does not play a significant role in industry competition.

Those types of efforts are unlikely to succeed, Mr. Baer is expected to say Thursday evening at a meeting of the New York State Bar Association.

Mr. Baer is also expected to make a forceful argument that the Justice Department’s antitrust actions over the last five years have upheld the promises made by Barack Obama in the 2008 campaign.

The division filed 339 criminal antitrust cases over the last five years, an increase of more than 60 percent over the previous five-year period. Those cases elicited $4.2 billion in criminal fines, according to Justice Department statistics.

In its recent antitrust lawsuit involving e-books, the antitrust division said in court papers that after Apple made an agreement with publishers on e-book prices, the price of e-book best-sellers rose to at least $12.99 from $9.99.

Since it began an action against Apple and the publishers, the Justice Department contends, the average price of the best-selling e-books has dropped to about $6.

Similar benefits have been seen in the wireless phone business, Mr. Baer is expected to say. Since the AT&T-T-Mobile deal was abandoned, T-Mobile has rebounded thanks to aggressive investment in its network and new pricing plans that reduce handset prices and offer cheaper subscriptions.

In the third quarter of 2013 alone, T-Mobile signed up nearly 650,000 new subscribers. Other wireless companies have responded to T-Mobile’s offers with aggressive pricing of their own.

“We’ve looked long and hard at the wireless industry,” Mr. Baer said in the interview. “We’ve seen the benefits over the last two and a half years of four-firm competition. Experience teaches us that the market is thriving and consumers are benefiting from the current competitive dynamic.”

Two of Mr. Baer’s deputies gave speeches last week at a conference focused on antitrust and intellectual property.

One, Renata B. Hesse, deputy assistant attorney general for the antitrust division, told an audience in Silicon Valley that the division has often found “compelling evidence” in internal company documents that indicates anticompetitive behavior among companies proposing to merge.

Often, company executives have written in emails and other documents about how the previous rivalry between companies “was an important driver of innovation,” Ms. Hesse said. “We are concerned by evidence that shows that a firm being acquired has been a particularly innovative or disruptive competitor.”

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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)
‘Chicago P.D.’, ‘SVU’ & ‘Nashville’ Keep Rising, ‘Fun Night’ Hits Low
By Nellie Andreeva, Deadline.com - Jan. 30, 2013

It must be disheartening for studio executives to see a clip show of old Super Bowl commercials beat handily original episodes of high-end comedy and drama series. CBS‘ annual Super Bowl commercials special (1.9) from 8-9 PM was down a tenth from last year but finished well ahead in the hour of superbowlspecialNBC’s Revolution (1.3, down 14% from last week to tie a series low) and ABC’s comedies, The Middle repeat (1.5) and new Suburgatory (1.5) which fell 17% from last week to tie a series low.

The Super Bowl commercials special actually finished as the second highest rated program of the night behind Fox’s American Idol, tied with NBC’s Law & Order: SVU and a Modern Family repeat. Idol (3.8) was down 5% from last Wednesday’s fast national but once again won the night for Fox in 18-49 and total viewers. Both SVU (1.9, +6%) and newbie Chicago P.D. (1.7, +5%) posted a second consecutive week of gains against CBS’ dramas in repeats. With Modern Family a rerun, Super Fun Night (1.3) plunged 24% to a series low. But Nashville (1.5, +7%) inched up for a second week in a row. The CW’s Arrow (1.0) was up 11%, The Tomorrow People (0.6) up 20%.

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Critic's Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - Jan. 30, 2014

PBS, 7:30 p.m. ET

To honor Pete Seeger, who died Monday at age 94, PBS is repeating its 2008 American Masters profile of the influential singer and songwriter. It’s an excellent documentary, and his TV return on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in the Sixties plays a prominent part. For my salute to Pete Seeger, see Bianculli’s Blog. Many local PBS member stations will make room for this special telecast, either sometime tonight or over the weekend. Even more than usual for a PBS offering, Check local listings.

CBS, 8:00 p.m. ET

Geek fanboy alert: Tonight on this new Big Bang, the guest star, playing himself, is James Earl Jones. Forget what else he’s accomplished over a stunningly impressive lifetime on stage and screen: for Sheldon (Jim Parsons), Jones is known, and revered, for only one thing: providing the voice of Darth Vader in the Star Wars movies. That’s cause enough for celebration – and an excuse to celebrate more.

NBC, 8:30 p.m. ET

This series has been leading up to tonight’s episode for quite a while: Ann and Chris (Rashida Jones, Rob Lowe), future parents, take their union on the road – aiming for Michigan – and leave Pawnee. The actors themselves are leaving the show – but not without an on-air goodbye party, planned by Leslie (Amy Poehler).

CNN, 9:00 p.m. ET

Hastily scheduled, this is another special preview installment of The Sixties, the forthcoming CNN documentary series by Tom Hanks’ production company. The first of these, back in November, was keyed to the golden anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Now, two months later, comes a much happier 50-years-later program: a salute to the Feb. 9, 1964 appearance by The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show.

IFC, 10:00 p.m. ET

In tonight’s episode, Jessica Alba steps to the fore – and steps into a series of bitchslaps, traded with Kristen Wiig’s Cynthia in a very pointed homage to the Dynasty-era miniseries Spoils is so gleefully satirizing.
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