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Nielsen Overnights (Broadcast)
TV Ratings: 'Big Brother' Premiere Carries CBS to Victory
By Rick Porter, The Hollywood Reporter - Aug. 6, 2020

The return of Big Brother to CBS scored the network's best adults 18-49 rating of the summer on Wednesday, though the show came in below last season's premiere.

The two-hour Big Brother premiere — the start of an all-star season with strict safety protocols for cast and crew members — posted a 1.0 rating among adults 18-49 and 3.66 million viewers, though it declined over the course of its running time. Last season's debut scored a 1.3 in the demo and about 4.9 million viewers. At 8 p.m., Tough as Nails improved a little in total viewers to 3.69 million while holding steady at 0.5 in adults 18-49.

ABC's United We Fall continued its consistent performance with a 0.5 in the 18-49 demo and 3.29 million viewers (vs. 0.5 and 3.57 million last week). Agents of SHIELD (0.3, 1.26 million) was also in line with a week ago.

The premiere of Canadian drama Coroner on The CW brought in 719,000 viewers — double the same-day average of Bulletproof in the time slot earlier in the summer. It also built on the audience for The 100 (505,000). Both shows averaged 0.1 in adults 18-49.

CBS easily led the 18-49 rankings in primetime with a 0.9 rating. Fox and Univision tied for second at 0.4. ABC, NBC and Telemundo all averaged 0.3, and The CW drew a 0.1.

Source: TV Ratings: 'Big Brother' Premiere Carries CBS to Victory
 

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TV/Health Notes (Broadcast)
‘The Late Show With Stephen Colbert’ & ‘The Late Late Show With James Corden’ Returning To The Studio
By Peter White, Deadline.com - Aug. 6, 2020

CBS’ late-night talk shows The Late Show With Stephen Colbert and The Late Late Show With James Corden are returning to the studio.

The shows have been filming remotely since the COVID-19 production shutdown in March but will return to some level of normality from next week.

ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish revealed the news on the company’s earnings call this morning. “Colbert and Corden will be returning to their buildings next week, albeit with no audience,” he said.

The move comes after The Tonight Show Starrring Jimmy Fallon was the first to return to the studio two weeks ago, while Conan O’Brien has been doing his TBS show from LA comedy club Largo.

Colbert said on July 24, before heading off on a two-week break, that he “won’t be in the Ed Sullivan Theater, but I also won’t be sleeping where I work”. It’s not immediately clear where he will be filming the show from.

Both hosts have been filming their shows from their houses. Colbert, who started off during the lockdown filming in his bathtub, has been shooting with the help of his wife at his home in New Jersey, while Corden, in full suit and tie, has been filming his show in his garage in LA.

Source: ‘The Late Show With Stephen Colbert’ & ‘The Late Late Show With James Corden’ Returning To The Studio
 

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TV/Health Notes (Broadcast)
Lindsey Vonn and Her Dog to Host Amazon Competition Series ‘The Pack’ Featuring Other Human-Pet Teams
By Jennifer Maas, TheWrap.com - Aug. 6, 2020

Olympic gold medalist skier Lindsey Vonn and her dog, Lucy, are set as the co-hosts of “The Pack,” a new Amazon competition series about the special bond between man (and woman) and man’s (and woman’s!) best friend, the streaming giant announced Thursday during a virtual CTAM panel.

The new unscripted show “features twelve teams of dogs and their humans on an epic adventure across multiple continents,” per Amazon. “The Pack” was filmed earlier this year and will launch on Amazon Prime Video later in 2020.

Here’s Amazon’s description for how the competition will work:

“At stake is a life-changing monetary prize for the winning duo ($500,000) and the animal charity of their choice ($250,000). Additionally, ‘The Pack’ donated $250,000 during filming to multiple charities and animal rescue organizations in each country, helping to pay it forward to dogs and those who love them around the world. To win the monetary prize for themselves and their charity, the teams will have to depend on their understanding of one another’s strengths and weaknesses and prove to have the strongest bond in the pack. In each locale, the human and dog duos will face fun and exciting challenges, designed in concert with a team of accredited veterinarians and certified dog experts that also accompany the group on their exciting journey, making sure it is a positive experience for everyone.”

“The Pack” is produced by Amazon Studios and Renegade 83, an Entertainment One company. Jay Bienstock with Jay Renfroe and David Garfinkle of Renegade 83 serve as executive producers.

“The Pack is an uplifting and exhilarating new unscripted series, celebrating one of the most unique and universally-recognized relationships we have – between people and their best friends,” Albert Cheng, co-head of television at Amazon Studios said in a statement. “Our Amazon Prime customers around the world will go on an adventure unlike any other as these impressive dogs and their humans navigate challenges as teams, making a difference along the way. ‘The Pack’ is a great addition to our growing slate of global competition series.”

“I have overcome many obstacles in life, but one thing that has reigned true during good times and bad has been the love of my dogs,” Vonn added. “Like many times before, Lucy will be by my side on yet another one of life’s adventures, and I’m excited for everyone to watch and cheer on these incredible contestants and their beloved companions.”

See below for the descriptions of all the human-canine teams that will be competing on Lindsey Vonn-and Lucy-hosted “The Pack,” courtesy of Amazon.

Brian Calvert & Dixie
Dixie is a 5-year-old Old Bluetick Coonhound. She’s a therapy dog for veterans and a deer tracking dog. She’s known as “Dixie The Praying Dog” because Calvert taught her how to ‘bow’ down to pray and say thank you to Veterans on command. Calvert is a 47-year-old man from Camby, Indiana. Calvert drives semi-trucks half of the week while taking Dixie to public appearances and events for the rest of the week. Both Calvert and Dixie have dedicated their lives to helping Veterans, kids, and anyone who might need a smile. Calvert and Dixie have a custom Jeep Wrangler with Dixie’s signature logo on it. They drive around in the Jeep participating in parades, escorting charity motorcycle rides, and escorting veteran’s funerals.
Brian social: Brian Calvert (Facebook)
Dixie social: @DixieThePrayingDog (Instagram/Twitter/Facebook)

Chelsey Lowe & Gryffin
Gryffin and Chelsey currently live in Newport Beach, California, where they enjoy doing activities such as surfing, stand up paddleboarding, yoga, beach volleyball, and anything else outdoors. Chelsey played college volleyball at UC Santa Barbara and is a yoga instructor. Chelsey found Gryffin at just seven weeks old about seven years ago on her way home from a trip, and Gryffin hasn’t left her side since. They do everything together. Chelsey even brings her to work, teaching her yoga classes with Gryffin by her side!
Chelsey Social: @chelslowe (Instagram), chelslowe2 (Twitter & Facebook)
Gryffin Social: @gryffin_theaussie (Instagram)

Chisum Joe Johnson & Kepo
Kepo joined Chisum’s family in 2017. Chisum initially got Kepo as a friend to his older dog (who has since passed) as well as a new friend for him. Chisum began to train Kepo as a tracking pup, and through that, they grew a close bond. Chisum didn’t realize how smart a dog could be until he befriended Kepo. Chisum credits Kepo for keeping him grounded after a stressful day at the fire station.
Chisum Social: @chisum930 (Instagram), Chisum Johnson (Facebook)
Kepo Social: @kepojohnson (Instagram), Kepo Johnson (Facebook)

Daniel Reese & Allister
Four years ago, Daniel Reese was blessed to be in the right place at the right time rescuing Allister, his sweet Wired Haired Rat Terrier, making him Daniel’s forever fur best friend. Allister is always ready for the next big adventure. Daniel gets so much love from Allister that he now wants to share that feeling with the world.
Daniel & Allister Social: N/A

Donna Modafferi & Charlie
Donna Modafferi and her Schnoodle-Schnauzer-Poodle, Charlie, currently reside in New York City. Donna fell in love with Charlie’s adorable face from a photo she saw online – proving there is such a thing as love at first sight. When Donna brought Charlie home in July 2016, Charlie fit into Donna’s little family perfectly and has brought them so much joy and love ever since.
Donna Social: @donnamodafferi (Instagram), @donna_modafferi (Twitter), Donna Modafferi (Facebook)
Charlie Social: @sweetbabycharlie (Instagram), @sweetbbcharlie (Twitter), Charlie Schnoodle- Sweet Baby Charlie (Facebook)

Josh White & Snow
Josh has a 3-year-old Standard Poodle named Snow. Josh loves to groom Snow, changing up her look to then go out and take photos of her! Snow enjoys all the attention and all the love, but most of all, she just enjoys spending time with Josh – and Josh enjoys spending all his time with her!
Josh Social: @joshandsnow (Instagram)
Snow Social: @joshandsnow (Instagram)

Kioni “Kentucky” Russell Gallahue & Derby
Kentucky got Derby from a loving family that realized that they couldn’t take care of him and needed to re-home him. Kentucky took him in, and they have been best friends ever since. Once living with Kentucky, Derby discovered a whole new world, and Kentucky helped give Derby the confidence to enjoy and explore it. Derby came into Kentucky’s life at a low point, and he helped get Kentucky through the hard times and start a new life in San Diego. Together they are inseparable. They love to surf, ride motorcycles, and find new, fun, crazy activities together.
Kentucky Social: @kentucky2123 (Instagram), Kentucky Gallahue (Facebook)
Derby Social: @derbycalifornia (Instagram), Derby California (Facebook)

Linh Iacona & Chance
After suddenly losing Linh’s first dog, a senior rescue, she searched on Petfinder and found Chance (who at the time was called Griff). She drove 8 hours that day to pick him up at his foster home. At only six weeks old, he was found homeless roaming the streets of Kentucky, then transported to Pennsylvania to be fostered. She adopted Chance at three and a half months old, and now he’s living his best life in Brooklyn.
Linh Social: @THEBKLYNDOGMOM (Instagram, TikTok)
Chance Social: @THEBKYLNDOG (Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, Snapchat, Pinterest)

Lucy Riles & Duchess
Duchess is an 8-year-old Black Lab that loves tennis balls and playing fetch with Lucy, a Stay-at-Home Mom of four kids, two dogs and wife to one husband. Duchess and Lucy’s bond began when Duchess was four months old. With a toddler and baby already in tow, Lucy decided to adopt Duchess from Southern California Labrador Retriever Rescue. But as the years went on, it’s pretty clear that Duchess was the one doing the rescuing all along. The unconditional love, security, companionship and emotional support Duchess has provided Lucy, and her kids has gotten their family through some of life’s most devastating losses and obstacles. Not only has Duchess saved the lives and hearts of Lucy and her family, but Duchess is also about to win over your hearts as well! This duo may be the oldest female team on The Pack and viewed as a couple of underdogs…but never underestimate the inner strength of a mom and her lab. Lucy and Duchess are here to prove you CAN teach an old dog (and old broad) new tricks!
Lucy Social: @lucyriles (Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/TikTok)
Duchess Social: @royallycutedogs (Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/TikTok)

Mark LeBlanc & Ace
Mark is a 31-year-old mechanical engineer and professional photographer with a furry best friend named Ace, who is a 10-year-old Border Collie. Mark specifically wanted a breed that could match his physical abilities and intensity–Ace was exactly that for him. They love to push themselves to the limit in the mountains. Living in Salt Lake City, Utah, they are always active outdoors doing things like rock climbing, backcountry skiing, mountain biking, and trail running. At six months old, Ace was catching frisbees 30 yards away, and at ten years old, a ten-mile trail run is simply a warm-up. Together, Mark and Ace have an unbreakable bond and a thrill for adventure.
Mark Social: @markcleblanc (Instagram/Twitter)
Ace Social: @acethetraildog (Instagram/Twitter/Facebook)

Mitra Najibeth Yosri & Bozley
9 years ago, Mitra Yosri met Bozley and they’ve been inseparable ever since. Bozley escorted Mitra when she made the life-changing decision to move from Utah to Los Angeles, and they do absolutely everything together. With the unconditional love and companionship that Bozley has always provided her, Mitra has been able to take risks and pursue her dreams. Today, Mitra and Bozley enjoy cuddling and hiking through the hills of Eagle Rock and sharing food. Mitra is most happy at home with Bozley and her two cats. Bozley is happiest trying to catch flies and never leaving Mitra’s side.
Mitra Social: @Nice.to.mitra (Instagram), Mitra Yosri (Twitter/Facebook)
Bozley Social: @bozitive.energy (Instagram)

Vania Zuniga & Jax
Jax is a goofy 3-year-old Golden Retriever. Jax loves to be attached to Vania’s hip (unless there is a squirrel around). This pair loves to spend their time soaking up the sun at the beach. Jax loves to put a smile on anyone’s face, but be careful because his dog hair is contagious!
Vania Social: @lovealways_vania
Jax Social: @jax_thegoldendog

Source: Lindsey Vonn and Her Dog to Host Amazon Competition Series 'The Pack'
 

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Technology/Business Notes
Sling TV Integrates OTA Channels Directly Into Program Guide on LG Smart TVs
By Daniel Frankel, Multichannel News - Aug. 6, 2020

Dish Network’s Sling TV remains the lowest priced full-feature virtual MVPD service, and one of the ways it has maintained that price point is by paying only a limited amount of its programming budget to broadcast retransmission licensing fees.

On Thursday, Sling TV announced yet another way its users can conveniently view their local channels free and over the air, rather than having them be part of the license Sling TV service offering.

Now, Sling TV subscribers who use 2020 LG smart TVs enabled with the webOS 5.0 operating system, and connected to an OTA antenna, can port their local channels directly into their Sling TV user interface. That means ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and PBS appear alongside ESPN, CNN and the rest of the licensed cable channels carried in the Sling TV user interface.

With rival vMVPDs including YouTube TV now priced at $65 a month and up, Sling TV has kept its two programming tiers “Sling Blue” and “Sling Orange,” priced at $30 a month.

Orange comes with ESPN, but no local broadcast networks. Blue has NBC and Fox in select markets. It has a slightly different, more news- and less-sports focused selection of cable networks, with no ESPN. ABC is available on both tiers as a $5-a-month “broadcast extra” add-on.

CBS locals aren’t licensed at all by Sling TV.

If Sling were to license ubiquitous local access to the major broadcasters on all of its tiers as, say, YouTube TV has, its price point would be a lot closer to $65 a month than $30.

Dish and Sling have been working on porting OTA channels into the app environment for several years. Last year, for instance, they debuted the AirTV 2, a device that connects to an antenna and sits on the user’s WiFi network. Local channels are then accessed through app from network-situated devices ranging from iOS smart phones to Roku streaming boxes and sticks.

Roku, meanwhile, is doing something similar with its fast-developing live/linear program guide, surfacing OTA channels alongside licensed live/linear networks within the app’s guide.

"The best value in TV today is Sling TV plus free live locals," said Jon Lin, VP of product for Sling TV. "We're making it easier than ever to watch free local channels directly within the Sling TV app, making 2020 LG Smart televisions an amazing value for those who appreciate a quality viewing experience, live local programming and OTT content from Sling TV.”

Source: Sling TV Integrates OTA Channels Directly into Program Guide on LG Smart TVs
 

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Technology/Critic's Notes (Mobile)
The Galaxy Z Fold 2 is Samsung’s big promise that it can fix its foldable future
By Chaim Gartenberg, TheVerge.com - Aug. 6, 2020

Samsung’s first look at the upcoming Galaxy Z Fold 2 during its Unpacked event seemed to spend more time focusing on how the new model fixes the flaws of the original rather than emphasizing whatever will make the foldable flagship great. In putting so much effort into convincing customers that this time it got things right, Samsung revealed just how badly it needs foldable phones to work.

At the end of the event, Samsung Electronics global executive SVP Federico Casalegno said that “going forward, 5G and foldables will be the major pillars of Samsung’s future.” For that to happen, they can’t be fragile.

In a world where first-generation products are often plagued by issues — be it poor battery on the first LTE phones, oversized video game consoles, or the original iPhone’s nonexistent third-party apps — the original Galaxy Fold stood out as a particularly problematic freshman attempt.

The original launch had to be delayed for months after multiple review units (including The Verge’s) outright failed. And even when the $1,980 smartphone did launch after a reinforcing redesign, it was with plentiful warnings about handling the delicate plastic display gently, with Samsung advising customers to avoid even tapping the screen too hard. The phone also was still at risk from debris, which could make its way inside the hinges and damage the screen from the back.



That’s all before getting into the actual issues with the Fold’s functionality as a phone: the original Fold featured a tiny 4.6-inch external display that made it uncomfortable to use as a regular smartphone. There was a giant notch that took up an entire corner of the display. And a “jelly-scrolling” effect that was disappointing to see on a phone this expensive.

The good news is that Samsung is promising to address nearly every single one of these issues on the Galaxy Z Fold 2, to the point where it took the time from its Unpacked event to call out the various reviewers who had cited these issues, to show off the fixes it’s made.

Samsung played videos from Marques Brownlee (MKBHD) commenting on the plastic nature of the original Fold’s display (Brownlee’s comment that “glass doesn’t fold” gets rebutted by Samsung’s ultra-thin glass). Another series of clips from Brownlee and The Verge’s own Dieter Bohn were used to show the progression of the hinge design from the Fold to the Z Flip to the Z Fold 2. And in what might have been the most shocking thing of all, Samsung showed a clip from JerryRigEverything pouring dirt and gravel over the phone — so it could highlight the new brushes that (in theory) will prevent that issue.

The display is no longer a dangerously easy-to-break sheet of plastic but the same ultra-thin glass technology that Samsung debuted with the Galaxy Z Flip earlier this year, which promises more durability. Although for protection, the glass component here is still covered with a plastic cover, which can pick up nicks. Despite this upgrade, it’s still much more fragile than the hardened Gorilla Glass most of us are used to on regular smartphones.

Samsung has also redesigned the hinge in the Z Fold 2. It’s able to stay in place at a wider range of angles, allowing it to be propped up on a desk. It employs stronger force to keep the phone open when its unfolded, and it features additional springs to allow for a smoother opening experience. Samsung’s also using a similar “sweeper” technology that it debuted with the Z Flip to brush out any dust or dirt. The new system actually makes several improvements on the Z Flip’s method to account for the even smaller hinge, with shorter fibers and adjustments to the elasticity of the brushes to ensure that everything works the same despite the smaller size.


The Galaxy Z Fold 2 also promises to be a better phone. The outside screen is now a full-size 6.2-inch panel, although it’s likely still quite narrow, so that diagonal measurement may not be the best indication of how it feels to use. The notches on the main display have been tossed out in exchange for diminutive hole-punch cameras, and the display technology has been improved to offer 120Hz refresh rates (although the word is still out on the jelly scroll.)

It’s a message focused on selling customers a phone based on the things that it isn’t — too small, too awkward, too prone to breaking — rather than the things that it is. It also puts a lot of pressure on the upcoming Z Fold 2. Samsung has made the idea of this phone being its fixed foldable its defining characteristic, which is a lot of weight to put on a single device. Customers could forgive the first Fold for having issues as a first-generation piece of hardware. The second time around, there’s far less room for error.

There’s still a lot we don’t know about the Z Fold 2 — information that will presumably come when Samsung is ready to show off the phone more fully on September 1st. But with the emphasis on getting right what it had gotten wrong last time, Samsung is renewing its commitment to foldable phones as the future. And maybe the Z Fold 2 is the phone to prove that’s even possible.

Source: The Galaxy Z Fold 2 is Samsung’s big promise that it can fix its foldable future
 

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TV/Cultural Notes
NBC Entertainment Boss Paul Telegdy Out Amid Allegations of Toxic Behavior
By Rebecca Iannucci, TVLine.com - Aug. 6, 2020

Less than a week after an investigation was launched into claims of his toxic behavior, NBC Entertainment chairman Paul Telegdy is leaving the company.

Telegdy’s exit comes as part of a larger restructuring effort at NBCUniversal’s TV division. His role will not be replaced, but the company is now seeking an executive to run its new entertainment programming unit, which will oversee scripted, unscripted, late-night and alternative content.

But in late July, NBC began investigating allegations that Telegdy had fostered a toxic workplace through homophobic, misogynistic and racist behavior. Prompted by a claim from former America’s Got Talent judge Gabrielle Union, who said Telegdy threatened to silence her during an investigation into workplace practices at the show, The Hollywood Reporter interviewed more than 30 people who claimed Telegdy created a toxic environment.

Telegdy’s alleged behavior included mocking gay executives, making crude sexual remarks or disparaging comments about the physical appearance of network talent and using homophobic and misogynistic slurs. Sharon Osbourne, another former AGT judge, also claimed that Telegdy told her, “Go f—k yourself” when she protested NBC’s decision to drop her son, Jack, from Stars Earn Stripes after he disclosed a multiple sclerosis diagnosis.

“This narrative is not reflective of the values of NBC Entertainment or the culture we strive to create,” an NBC rep said at the time. “NBCUniversal takes these matters seriously, and will investigate these allegations, many of which are coming to our attention for the first time. NBCUniversal remains committed to creating a safe, respectful and supportive workplace for all.”

Source: NBC Entertainment Boss Paul Telegdy Out Amid Allegations of Toxic Behavior
 

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Obituary
Tony Award winner Brent Carver dead at 68
By Johnny Oleksinski, New York Post - Aug. 6, 2020

Brent Carver, the Broadway actor who won a Tony Award for his leading turn in “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” died this week, his family said in a statement Thursday. He was 68.

“Our family is sharing news of Brent Carver’s passing on Aug. 4 at home in Cranbrook, BC, his birthplace and favorite place on Earth,” the statement said. “His love of performing was matched only by his zest for life and lifetime devotion to family, friends and treasured pets.”

Although Carver acted around the US and Canada since the 1970s, the Canadian actor made waves on Broadway in the ’90s appearing in oddball musicals with tough topics.

In John Kander and Fred Ebb’s “Spider Woman,” the sinewy actor played a gay window dresser imprisoned in Argentina, and in “Parade” he took on the role of Leo Frank, a Jewish man who was lynched in Georgia in 1915.

Having also performed in many Shakespeare plays with Canada’s Stratford Festival, Carver’s last major New York role was as Friar Lawrence in “Romeo and Juliet,” starring Orlando Bloom.

Source: Tony Award winner Brent Carver dead at 68
 

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TV/Production Notes
Eurovision Sets Sail for U.S. Shores as ‘American Song Contest’
By Jazz Tangcay, Variety.com - Aug. 6, 2020

EXCLUSIVE: The “Eurovision Song Contest,” Europe’s popular music competition, one of the world’s biggest televised events and the platform that helped launch ABBA, is coming to America. “The American Song Contest” is set to debut during the 2021 holiday season.

Hoping to siphon off some of the magic of the beloved six-decade-old show, which draws over 200 million viewers to its grand finale, the premise for “The American Song Contest” will remain similar to the European version. Professional musical artists — solo singers, duos or groups up to six members — from each of the 50 states and across every musical genre will perform all original songs on the live televised event.

The format, as it is currently conceived, will position the artists head-to-head against other states’ representatives in a series of televised qualifier competitions, leading to semi-finals and the ultimate primetime Grand Finale March Madness-style. Propagate Content will create The American Song Contest Academy, a group consisting of music professionals based in the U.S. that represent all genres and backgrounds, from which juries of artists and music industry notables who, along with the regional audiences, will select top talent from all 50 states to compete.

Not unlike Will Ferrell’s character in the recent Netflix hit “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga,” producer Christer Björkman was himself a fan of the show who ended up competing in 1992, representing his home country of Sweden. “Eurovision has been a dream project ever since I was a child,” Björkman tells Variety, who moved behind the scenes as contest producer and creative director. Of the American version, Björkman adds: “To have a chance to use everything you know about the format and redo it from the beginning and to bring it to an audience that has no history with it is such a privilege.”

Ben Silverman serves as executive producer and it’s not the first show he’s imported from Europe. With “The Office,” “Big Brother” and “The Weakest Link” among his credits, the self-professed Anglophile cites the Eurovision concept as the hardest to bring to American audiences. “I’ve spent 20 years trying to pursue this,” says Silverman. “When I was chairman of NBC, when I was an agent at William Morris and when I started at Reveille. I just love the format.”

Anders Lenhoff who will also serve as a producer adds, “It’s a great product on so many levels. You want to use all your expertise and bringing it to the biggest market in the world is so exciting.”

Silverman points to the unifying power of the show and how its arrival couldn’t be better-timed. “When America is more fractionalized than ever and we are dealing with so many issues that divide us, the one [thing] that truly unites us is our culture. … It can unite it by celebrating its diversity, its distinctions and in pulling everyone around its love of music and its love of song.”

Lenhoff agrees. “We’ve had countries at war with one another and when the contestants come on, we’ve seen them hug or cry afterward,” he says.

Offers Björkman: “It’s a competition where you root for your home state and your home town and there isn’t another show out there that does that.”

Watch a promo for “American Song Contest” below: [CLICK LINK]

Source: Eurovision Sets Sail for U.S. Shores as ‘American Song Contest’ (EXCLUSIVE)
 

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No political comments, please.

Washington/Technology Notes (Social Media)
President Trump Issues Executive Order Forcing Sale of TikTok
By Natalie Jarvey, The Hollywood Reporter - Aug. 6, 2020

President Donald Trump issued an executive order on Thursday evening barring transactions with ByteDance, forcing the Chinese tech firm to divest itself of its U.S. TikTok operations.

The order, which is scheduled to go into effect in 45 days, gives a strict timeline for ByteDance to sell the business. Microsoft said on Sunday that it was in conversations with the company about acquiring TikTok's operations in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

TikTok, which has more than 100 million users in the U.S., has drawn scrutiny because of its Chinese owner. The Trump administration has worried that, through ByteDance, the personal data of U.S. TikTok users could find its way into the hands of the Chinese government. TikTok has said it does not store U.S. user data in China.

"These risks are real," reads Trump's order, which cites the International Emergency Economic Powers Act as its basis. "The United States must take aggressive action against the owners of TikTok to protect our national security."

Trump said on July 31 that he was planning to ban TikTok in the U.S. After he spoke with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella over the weekend, he softened his stance slightly, saying he'd give ByteDance until Sept. 15 to sell the business.

In the lengthy statement that it issued, Microsoft acknowledged Trump's concerns and said it would "build on the experience TikTok users currently love, while adding world-class security, privacy, and digital safety protections." Among the measures it outlined were places to transfer and store all data on American TikTok users to the U.S. and to delete any data that is being backed up on servers outside the country.

TikTok, meanwhile, has maintained that it doesn't plan to exit the U.S., which was the second largest market for the app outside India until it was banned in that country in late June. In a TikTok posted over the weekend, Vanessa Pappas, general manager of TikTok's North American business, highlighted the company's 1,500 U.S. employees and support from its creator community. "We're not planning on going anywhere," she said.

Trump has issued a similar order banning transactions with Tencent and its WeChat messaging service. The executive order, which is also set to go into effect in 45 days, refers to app's operations in the U.S. as a "national emergency."

Source: President Trump Issues Executive Order Forcing Sale of TikTok
 

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TV/Technology Notes (Gaming)
Video game TV network VENN launches 24/7 coverage of esports, pop culture and technology
By Mike Snider, USA Today - Aug. 6, 2020

Video game lovers now have their own fully fledged network again with the arrival of the Video Game Entertainment & News Network (VENN).

The VENN began broadcasting live Wednesday at about 2:30 p.m. ET on its on website VENN.tv, as well as on Twitter, Twitch, YouTube and Facebook.

The network has a full slate of programs including daily variety show VENN Arcade Live, the afternoon interactive show Guest House, and The Download, a daily gaming, pop culture and tech news show including host Erin Ashley Simon, esports commentator Matt Morello, and actor and musician Jimmy Wong ("Mulan").

VENN covers "the intersection of culture, entertainment, esports and gaming," Simon said in a promotional video posted on Twitter. But the network also shows that gamers "come in so many different shapes and forms we have so many different passions. And more importantly we are able to be ourselves. VENN is about uplifting and empowering content creators and gamers and talent and allowing us to be us."

You can watch programming live – VENN's schedule can be found on VENN.tv – or watch full episodes on demand on the site.

VENN is also available on Vizio SmartCast, Xumo, STIRR, and Distro TV. The network plans to eventually have a presence on live streaming services, as well as cable and satellite systems.

"VENN was built to be a talent first network – a welcoming home for gamers, streamers, and creators of all genres, backgrounds, and passions," said VENN executive creative director Viranda Tantula in a statement. "We're inspired by a love of content, craft, and culture – a love we share with the talent who are joining us. We hope our audience feels that energy."

VENN harkens back to the day when video game fans had their own network such as G4 and television shows such as GameTrailers TV, and The Electric Playground, which you can still see new episodes of online.

Apparently, interest in video game programming is high – with the impending arrival of the new PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X – as G4 recently tweeted its rebirth coming in 2021.

Source: Video game TV network VENN launches 24/7 coverage of esports, pop culture and technology
 

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TV Review (Streaming)
Star Trek: Lower Decks Is an Entertaining Entry in a Franchise Suffering an Identity Crisis
By Angelica Jade Bastien, Vulture.com (New York Magazine) - Aug. 6, 2020

Star Trek: Lower Decks, the first animated series in the franchise since the 1970s show focused on the original cast, begins with an act of subversion. We hear the voice of what we assume to be the captain recording a log as the screen fills with gleaming images of the USS Cerritos. But this isn’t a captain, and Cerritos is far from a storied ship. Instead, it’s the voice of an ensign, specifically the straitlaced Brad Boimler (Jack Quaid). He’s jokingly interrupted by another peer, the worldly and confident Beckett Mariner (Tawny Newsome), drunk on Romulan whiskey, who swerves from cackling at his earnestness in recording a captain’s log (how hopeful!) to wielding a Klingon bat’leth that slices through his inner thigh due to her sloppy handling. This is the perennial pose of the new CBS All Access series: to subvert Star Trek more than celebrate it, to visually and vocally name-drop more than carefully interweave the soul of the franchise into this new entry.

On its face, Lower Decks is intriguing as an animated, adult-oriented series that focuses on the kind of characters who are only seen in passing or intermittently — the grunt workers, the neophytes, the troublemakers, all far from the gleaming expanse of the bridge and its crew, including Captain Carol Freeman (Dawnn Lewis), a graying Black woman determined for her ship to be seen as something more than the dregs of Starfleet, and first officer Jack Ransom (Jerry O’Connell), who feels akin to The Next Generation’s Riker (the great Jonathan Frakes), except more full of himself with less of a reason to be. These characters figure into the plot, but the leads are the younger, less-established, lower-deck-dwelling ensigns, including Boimler, Mariner, the Orion science officer D’Vana Tendi (Noël Wells), and a cybernetically enhanced engineer, Sam Rutherford (Eugene Cordero). These characters comprise the heart of the series, with Boimler and Mariner edging the others out as leads. They curse, they flirt, they drink, they get turned on and beat down, they mess up with abandon. There’s a lot of potential there to be both curious and heartfelt, as Star Trek has always been, but push it into some new directions narratively and visually, with the animated format allowing the franchise to reach beyond what has come before. But Lower Decks, for all its raucous pleasures, doesn’t quite rise to that occasion.

I admit my expectations when it comes to new Star Trek are quite tangled. As a lifelong fan, I yearn for the franchise to flex its muscles, to move beyond its present atrophied state of picking from the bones of the original series while ignoring when Star Trek was at its best. No, not The Next Generation, which Lower Decks treats as a playground. (The animated show takes place a year after the events of the last Star Trek: The Next Generation film, the regrettable Nemesis, which holds very little value unless you’re a die-hard Tom Hardy fan. Even then there is so much better to do with your time.) But Deep Space Nine, which ran from 1993 to 1999 and created rich psychological profiles for its characters, pushed the limits of Star Trek by questioning and interrogating its inherent optimism, and evoking an earned darkness without ever forgetting the light. I don’t need every new entry into Star Trek lore to be as lofty or as intricate as Deep Space Nine, but it’s curious how it seems all but forgotten within these new Star Trek shows — it gets nary a mention in Lower Decks, at least from what I’ve seen in its first four episodes — despite laying the groundwork the franchise has walked upon since.

For all its glossy new aesthetics and adult content, Star Trek currently feels intellectually and emotionally juvenile in ways that frustrate. Even at its best, Lower Decks reflects the identity crisis that the franchise has been mired in since at least J.J. Abrams’s 2009 film reboot, grafting its iconography onto different styles instead of being boldly its own thing. At worst, you get Star Wars playing Star Trek dress up, like Abrams’s films in particular. But even other recent forays like Discovery feel almost embarrassed to be Star Trek in the first place, pulling from so many other science-fiction shows while treating Trek itself as a source of Easter eggs and recognizable characters to reference. (Spock, again?)

Look, I don’t need this show to repeat the triumphs of the franchise’s 1990s past, but when I watch Star Trek I always hope for awe. Awe at the intricacies of the human condition. Awe at the imaginings of worlds both far-flung and intensely human. Awe at its cerebral qualities. Awe at its hard-won optimism. Star Trek: Lower Decks is a lot of things: fun, raucous, adult in language but not in emotional landscape. But it’s also too cool to aim for awe.

Don’t get me wrong. Lower Decks actually makes a good entry point for new or casual fans with only a passing understanding of the franchise. It’s fun and sometimes even surprising. But it fosters an ironic distance between what it wants to be and Star Trek as a whole. Even before I realized Mike McMahan, who served as a writer-producer on Rick and Morty, was the creative force behind the show, I could feel its influence on Lower Decks. The new Star Trek show in many ways is a visually smoother, narratively less weird echo of Rick and Morty with a Star Trek gloss applied. And to a certain extent that works. Lower Decks is tonally nimble, jumping from the sincere to the gross to the shocking at a clip. It’s bright and eye-catching, albeit not all that visually unique. The characters feel immediately distinctive, with the potential for some intriguing bramble. The writers clearly know Star Trek, or at least they mention trivia or name-drop things related to The Next Generation, The Original Series, and Voyager, in that order (which makes sense given McMahan’s presence behind a popular Twitter account imagining an eighth season of TNG). I even like that the show is steeped in The Next Generation, which feels like progress from obsessing over the original series. And the voice actors are clearly game for the ride, particularly Newsome.

But in watching Newsome’s Mariner — whose arc and emotional life are the most clearly defined — that strange ironic distance once again comes into view. Mariner isn’t the typical ensign. She doesn’t suck up to the bridge crew. She’s not interested in promotions; in fact, she was previously demoted and sent to Cerritos as punishment. She openly and willfully undermines the captain from the jump (a tell for an emotional/character revelation at the end of the premiere, which is pretty apparent and unevenly handled in the first few episodes). It’s her too-cool-for-Starfleet posture that defines the tone and perspective of the show, almost as if Lower Decks is embarrassed to lean into what makes Star Trek what it is: heartfelt, cerebral, and endlessly curious about humanity.

Easily digestible and overall a pleasure to watch, Lower Decks holds the potential to become more dynamic and narratively sound in the future, perhaps further untangling the dynamics of what it means to be a part of Starfleet when you’re not glorified, or not interested in glory in the first place. But that would necessitate a comfort with earnestness that the show currently does not exhibit. It too often undercuts its attempts to aim for the heart, following up any sincere moment with a joke or silly retort. Yes, Lower Decks is fun. But sometimes base pleasure isn’t enough. I need emotion. I need sharper wit. I need a more curious narrative. I need a unique point of view.

It’s this last point that pulls into sharp relief the questions about the future of Star Trek. Will Star Trek continue to try and play catch-up to every other major franchise, or will it finally embrace what makes it unique within the realm of pop culture? Lower Decks, even with its fulsome pleasures, unfortunately seems to spell a future in which Star Trek continues to shirk its own identity and forget what has drawn people to it for decades.

Source: Lower Decks Is Fun, But Star Trek Is Suffering an Identity Crisis
 

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TV Notes
On The Air

FRIDAY AUG. 7, 2020 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)
From Zap2it.com's TV Grid

ABC:
8PM - Shark Tank
(R)
9:01PM - 20/20: Cutthroat, Inc. (119 min.) (R)
* * * *
11:35PM - Jimmy Kimmel Live! (Joel McHale guest hosts; NFL player Russell Wilson; Billy Strings performs)
(R)
12:06AM - Nightline
12:36AM - Jimmy Kimmel Live!
(R)

CBS:
8PM - The Greatest #AtHome Videos
9PM - Magnum P.I.
(R)
10PM - Blue Bloods (R)
* * * *
11:35PM - The Late Show With Stephen Colbert (Talk show host James Corden; Laura Benanti; Bright Eyes perform)
(R)
12:37AM - The Late Late Show With James Corden (Josh Gad; Anuel performs) (R)

NBC:
8PM - The Wall
(R)
9PM - Dateline NBC: Angels & Demons (120 min.) (R)
* * * *
11:34PM - The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (Cameron Diaz; Keisha Lance Bottoms, mayor of Atlanta; Kygo and OneRepublic perform)
(R)
12:37AM - Late Night With Seth Meyers (Sean Hayes; Dan Levy) (R)
1:38AM - A Little Late With Lilly Singh (Tony Shaloub; singer-songwriter Ne-Yo) (R)

FOX:
8PM - WWE Friday Night SmackDown (120 min., LIVE)

THE CW:
8PM - Masters of Illusion
(R)
8:30PM - Masters of Illusion (R)
9PM - Being Ruben (Series Premiere)
9:30PM - Being Ruben

PBS:
8PM - Washington Week
8:30PM - Firing Line With Margaret Hoover
9PM - Great Performances - In the Heights: Chasing Broadway Dreams
10PM - International Jazz Day From Cuba
(R)

UNIVISION:
8PM - La Rosa de Guadalupe
9PM - Médicos, Línea de Vida
10PM - Como Tú No Hay Dos

TELEMUNDO:
7PM - Exatlón Estados Unidos (120 min.)
9PM - Cennet
10PM - Enemigo Intimo


UNIMAS:
7:30PM - Fútbol Mexicano Primera División: Necaxa vs. América (LIVE)

ESPN:

4PM - 2020 PGA Championship: Second Round (6 hrs., LIVE)
10PM - SportsCenter (LIVE)

NBCSN:

6:30PM - NHL Hockey: Edmonton Oilers vs. Chicago Blackhawks (LIVE)
9PM - NHL Hockey: Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Columbus Blue Jackets (LIVE)

10:30PM - NHL Hockey: Vancouver Canucks vs. Minnesota Wilds (LIVE)

TNT:

6:30PM - NBA Basketball: Orlando Magic vs. Philadelphia 76ers (LIVE)
9PM - NBA Basketball: Boston Celtics vs. Toronto Raptors (LIVE)

ESPN 2:

7PM - WNBA Basketball: New York Liberty vs. Washington Mystics (LIVE)
9PM - WNBA Basketball: Los Angeles Sparks vs. Las Vegas Aces (LIVE)

CBSN:
7:30PM - UEFA Champions League: Juventus FC vs. Olympique Lyonnais (Tape Delayed)

GALAVISION:
8PM - Como Dice El Dicho
9PM - Como Dice El Dicho
10PM - Como Dice El Dicho

ID:
8PM - 48 Hours on ID: NCIS
9PM - 48 Hours on ID: NCIS

LIFETIME MOVIE NETWORK:
8PM - Movie: Killer In The Guest House (2020)

NAT GEO:
8PM - When Sharks Attack: Extra Bite - Cape Terror
9PM - When Sharks Attack: Deep Dives - Bull Shark Bedlam
10PM - Secrets of the Bull Shark: Extra Bite

SCIENCE:
8PM - How It's Made: Race Car Essentials
8:30PM - How It's Made: Hi-Tech Scooters

TLC:
8PM - 90 Day Fiancé: Happily Ever After? (120 min.)

WETV:
9PM - Love After Lockup

FX:
10PM - The New York Times Presents: Dominic Fike, At First (47 min.)

HBO:
10PM - Real Time with Bill Maher (LIVE: Guests TBA)
* * * *
11PM - Room 104

PARAMOUNT:
10PM - Bellator MMA Live (2.5 hrs.)

TBS:
11PM - The Sims Spark'd (60 min., LIVE)


Source: https://tvlistings.zap2it.com/?aid=gapzap
 

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Nielsen Overnights (Broadcast)
TV Ratings: 'To Tell the Truth' Rises to Lead ABC Demo Win
By Rick Porter, The Hollywood Reporter - Aug. 7, 2020

ABC collected another ratings victory among adults 18-49 demographic on Thursday, with To Tell the Truth leading the broadcast networks in the key ad demographic. CBS led the networks in total viewers, paced by Young Sheldon.

To Tell the Truth earned a 0.6 rating among adults 18-49, its best outing in a month and up a tenth of a point from last week. Its 2.96 million viewers were also a little bit above last week. Don't (0.5, 2.45 million) also inched up, and Holey Moley was steady at 0.5 in the demo and 2.95 million viewers.

The English-language networks were otherwise fairly light on original programming. Fox's Major League Baseball telecasts averaged a 0.4 in adults 18-49 and about 1.6 million viewers in the fast nationals, even in the demo and down a bit in total viewers from last week. The CW's Killer Camp was steady with a 0.1 in adults 18-49 and 465,000 viewers.

CBS' Young Sheldon rerun was the most watched show on the broadcast nets with just over 4 million viewers. A Mom repeat finished second with 3.01 million.

ABC's 0.5 average in adults 18-49 led the broadcasters in primetime, beating out 0.4s for Fox (pending updates), NBC and Univision. CBS and Telemundo both came in at 0.3, and The CW drew a 0.1.

Source: TV Ratings: 'To Tell the Truth' Rises to Lead ABC Demo Win
 

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TV/Production Notes (Streaming)
Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans’ Movie Announced for Netflix
By Adam Chitwood, Collider.com - Aug. 7, 2020

Today marks the release of the third and final series in the Netflix “Tales of Arcadia” anthology, but the story is far from over. DreamWorks Animation’s Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia launched in 2016 as the creation of Guillermo del Toro, and the CG-animated story of a young boy who discovers a secret realm inhabited by trolls. The series ran for three “parts” (or seasons), but the story of the world continued with the sci-fi leaning Netflix series 3Below (which ran in two parts) and today continues further with the fantastical one-part series Wizards. And now, we have a Trollhunters movie to look forward to.

It was announced today that Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans will premiere globally on Netflix in 2021 and will find heroes from Trollhunters, 3Below, and Wizards teaming up in their most epic adventure yet where they must fight the Arcane Order for control over the magic that binds them all.

“Team Trollhunters committed, about a decade ago, to try and push the boundaries of 3D CGI animation made for TV. We outlined a vast trilogy of interconnecting mythology and characters that we always hoped could culminate with a massive “all-stars” reunion,” says creator and executive producer Guillermo del Toro. “DreamWorks Animation and Netflix both shared the very ambitious notion of doing the three series, interwoven and then finishing off with a bigger, epic-sized feature film to top it all off.”

The cast for Rise of the Titans includes Emile Hirsch (Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood) as Jim, Lexi Medrano (Trollhunters) as Claire, Charlie Saxton (Hung, Bandslam) as Toby, Kelsey Grammer in his Emmy Award-winning role as Blinky, Alfred Molina (Frozen II) as Archie, Steven Yeun (Burning, The Walking Dead) as Steve, Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead) as Stuart, Colin O’Donoghue (Once Upon A Time) as Douxie, Diego Luna (Narcos: Mexico) as Krel, Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black) as Aja and Nick Offerman (Parks & Recreation, Fargo) as Vex. Additional cast members include Cole Sand, Fred Tatasciore, Brian Blessed, Kay Bess, Piotr Michael, James Hong, Tom Kenny, Angel Lin, Amy Landecker, Jonathan Hyde, Bebe Wood, Laraine Newman, Grey Griffin and Cheryl Hines.

But first, check out Wizards on Netflix starting today! Click here for our review.

Source: Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans’ Movie Announced for Netflix
 

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TV Notes (Streaming)
Hulu Renews ‘Love, Victor’
By R. Thomas Umstead, Multichannel News - Aug. 7, 2020

Hulu has renewed its drama Love, Victor for a second season, the streaming service announced Friday.

The series, which ranked as the most watched drama on Hulu during its premiere week this past June, continues to follow the exploits of high school student Victor (Michael Cimino) on his own journey of self-discovery, according to the streaming service.

The series, produced by 20th Century Fox Television, also stars Ana Ortiz, James Martinez, Isabella Ferreira, Mateo Fernandez, and Rachel Naomi Hilson.

Hulu also renewed its food-themed unscripted series Taste the Nation, hosted by Padma Lakshmi. In its sophomore season, the series will continue to take audiences on a journey across America exploring the rich and diverse food culture of various immigrant groups, seeking out the people who have so heavily shaped what American food is today, said Hulu.

Source: Hulu Renews ‘Love, Victor’
 

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TV Notes (Streaming)
‘Friends’ Reunion Special Delayed Again at HBO Max
By Joe Otterson, Variety.com - Aug. 7, 2020

The cast of “Friends” will be there for you…eventually.

According to an individual with knowledge of the situation, HBO Max’s planned unscripted reunion special featuring the main cast of the hit sitcom has been delayed once again due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and its impact on physical production. Filming dates are still to be determined.

The special was originally supposed to film back in March with a live audience. Those plans were scrapped when the pandemic shut down productions across the entertainment industry. WarnerMedia Entertainment and Direct-to-Consumer chairman Bob Greenblatt then said in May that the company was hopeful the special would shoot by the end of the summer.

“We’re holding out for being able to get this special done hopefully by the end of the summer, if the stars align and hopefully we can get back into production,” Greenblatt said at the time. “We do think there’s a value to having a big, raucous live audience to experience these six great friends coming back together and we didn’t want to just suddenly do it on a web call with, you know, six squares and people shooting from their kitchens and bedrooms.”

The “Friends” reunion has been in the works for months but was officially announced in February. Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer are all set to return for the unscripted reunion, which is set to film on the original “Friends” soundstage, Stage 24, on the Warner Bros. Studio lot in Burbank.

It was meant to help launch HBO Max in May, with the streamer set to be the exclusive streaming home of all 10 seasons of the beloved comedy series.

WarnerMedia reportedly paid over $400 million for the rights to the series, outbidding Netflix. Nielsen had previously reported that the show was one of the most-watched on Netflix, though Netflix does not provide any viewership data.

Source: ‘Friends’ Reunion Special Delayed Again at HBO Max
 

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TV Notes (Cable)
Keke Palmer to host the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards
By Lauren Huff, EW.com - Aug. 7, 2020

The 2020 MTV Video Music Awards officially have a host.

EW can exclusively confirm that actress, singer, and tv personality Keke Palmer will emcee this year's event, which is set to be the first live awards show since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a video posted on Thursday, which can be viewed below, Palmer has a conversation with True Jackson (the character she played on Nickelodeon’s True Jackson, VP from 2008-2011) in which she reveals the news. She then breaks into the show's theme song featuring revised lyrics about the VMAs.

“We’re thrilled to have the multi-talented Keke Palmer as this year’s VMAs host,” Bruce Gillmer, President of Music, Music Talent, Programming & Events for ViacomCBS Media Networks said of the pick. “Keke is an energetic force and a quadruple threat with unmatched comedic wit who will make this year’s show truly unforgettable.”

Heading into the awards, Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga are up for the most awards with nine nominations each. Billie Eilish and The Weeknd follow with six nods each, with Taylor Swift close behind, earning five.

The 2020 VMAs will air live from New York City's Barclays Center on Sunday, Aug. 30 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. It will feature BTS' highly anticipated performance of their new single, "Dynamite," as well as performances by Doja Cat, J Balvin, and more.

Source: Keke Palmer to host the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards
 

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TV Notes (Cable)
‘Soulmates’ Renewed For Second Season Ahead Of Season 1 Debut On AMC
By Brandon Choe, Deadline.com - Aug. 7, 2020

AMC has renewed Soulmates for a second season ahead of the series’ season one debut on October 5.

The series is written by Will Bridges (Stranger Things and Black Mirror) and Brett Goldstein (Ted Lasso). It is produced by Banijay’s Fearless Minds and the series, which is set to air later this year, is based on Bridges and Goldstein’s short film For Life.

From AMC Studios, Soulmates is set fifteen years into the future, when science has made a discovery that changes the lives of everyone on the planet – a test that unequivocally tells you who your soulmate is.

“We are so delighted to have the opportunity to continue working with the incredible team at AMC to tell more of our romantically unromantic love stories and can’t wait to get back into the world they helped us create,” said Bridges and Goldstein.

“We were immediately drawn to the unique premise of Soulmates as it explores love and relationships from several touchpoints in a way that naturally feeds the zeitgeist, prompting conversations around human connection, relationships and happiness,” said President of Original Programming for AMC Networks Dan McDermott. “These are stories and themes that resonate and feel almost timely given today’s climate in which so many of us feel disconnected or are coping with shifting relationship dynamics. We’re thrilled to continue our relationship with Will and Brett who never fail to deliver the very best in high-caliber, imaginative storytelling.”

Bridges and Goldstein executive produce with Jolyon Symonds through Fearless Minds, a Banijay Group company (Thorne series for Sky One, Complicit).

Directors for the series include Rob Savage (Britannia), Marco Kreuzpaintner (Beat), Andrea Harkin (The Trial of Christine Keeler) and Bridges. AMC Studios Content Distribution is managing worldwide sales of the series.

Source: ‘Soulmates’ Renewed For Second Season Ahead Of Season 1 Debut On AMC
 

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TV/Production Notes (Streaming)
Selena Gomez to Star in Hulu Comedy Series Only Murders in the Building, Opposite Steve Martin and Martin Short
By Michael Ausiello, TVLine.com - Aug. 7, 2020

Selena Gomez has scored a coveted spot in Steve Martin and Martin Short‘s latest comedy master class.

The actress singer is set to star opposite the legendary funnymen in Hulu’s forthcoming sitcom Only Murders in the Building, the streamer announced on Friday.

The series follows three strangers (Martin, Short and Gomez) who share an obsession with true crime and suddenly find themselves wrapped up in one.

Gomez will also serve as an EP on the project alongside series creators Steve Martin and John Hoffman (Grace & Frankie, Looking). Additional EPs include Short and This Is Us duo Dan Fogelman and Jess Rosenthal.

In addition to her breakout role in Disney Channel’s Wizards of Waverly Place, Gomez’s acting resume includes the films Another Cinderella Story, Princess Protection Program, Monte Carlo, Spring Breakers, The Fundamentals of Caring, The Dead Don’t Die and A Rainy Day in New York. She also served as an EP on Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why.

Gomez will next be seen headlining her own cooking show, Selena + Chef, on HBO Max. The remotely-shot 10-episode series debuts Thursday, Aug. 13.

Source: Selena Gomez to Star in Hulu Comedy Series Only Murders in the Building, Opposite Steve Martin and Martin Short
 

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Media/Business Notes
WarnerMedia Restructures Under Kilar; Greenblatt and Reilly Out
By Michael Ausiello, TVLine.com - Aug. 7, 2020

AT&T’s somewhat recently acquired WarnerMedia division has undergone its latest major restructuring, this one to establish new CEO Jason Kilar’s imprint on the media division.

Bob Greenblatt, chairman of WarnerMedia Entertainment and Direct-to-Consumer, and Kevin Reilly, chief content officer of HBO Max, TNT, TBS and trueTV, will be leaving the company. Also exiting is longtime corporate PR man Keith Cocozza, executive VP of corporate marketing and communications.

Expanding her purview will be Warner Bros. chair and CEO Ann Sarnoff, who will now lead WarnerMedia's newly created Studios and Networks Group. Sarnoff will add HBO, HBO Max, TNT, TBS and truTV to her existing job portfolio. Also, Casey Bloys, president HBO Programming, will now also oversee original content for HBO Max and the domestic linear networks TNT, TBS, and truTV.

Greenblatt, formerly the top entertainment executive at Showtime and NBC, joined WarnerMedia as recently as March 2019, representing AT&T's biggest media executive hire since it closed on the erstwhile Time Warner Inc. just months prior.

Veteran programming executive Reilly had three years remaining on this contract. But speculation about his fate was swirling after it was revealed that he had met with NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell. NBCU announced its own restructuring Thursday.

AT&T's newly appointed CEO, John Stankey, announced the appointment of former Hulu boss Kilar as WarnerMedia's top executive on April 1, less than two months before the conglomerate's ambitious launch of HBO Max.

As for HBO Max, AT&T said during its Q2 earnings call that the service had signed up 4.1 million users in its first month, putting it on pace to reach the 50 million U.S. customers AT&T had projected for the service in its first five years.

But from a pandemic that curtailed HBO Max's lofty original series ambitions, to distribution impasses that kept the HBO Max off the two biggest connected TV platforms, Roku and Amazon Fire TV, the launch has hardly been as "flawless" as Stankey described during that earnings call.

In a note to staff Friday intercepted by numerous Hollywood trades, Kilar listed the reasons for the restructuring, putting "elevating HBO Max in the organization and expanding its scope globally" at the top.

Here's Kilar's entire memo:

Team-

It has been a little over 90 days since I joined the mission and the team. These past three months have exceeded my already high expectations. As I shared with you recently, my bullishness about our future has only grown as I have gotten to know you much better and as I have gotten to know our company much better. As some of you may recall, I shared three thoughts with you on my first day email:

That history was filled with examples of special entrepreneurial companies that leaned into moments of great change in order to better serve customers.

That our taking smart and bold risks is so important to the road ahead. And,

My belief that missionary companies ultimately shine…and my strong belief that ours is a team filled with missionaries.

With the above as context, I’d like to share some decisions I am announcing today that represent our leaning into this great moment of change, in order to better serve our customers. These changes, which are neither timid nor without risk, are possible in part because we are missionaries that ultimately believe we can and will change the world through story. That is what this all comes back to.

Because of the gift that is the internet, we have what I believe is one of the greatest opportunities in the history of media, which is to deliver our beloved stories and experiences directly to hundreds of millions of consumers across the globe. Earning this ambitious future won’t come easy. To do so, I believe it is vital that we change how we are organized, that we simplify, and that we act boldly and with urgency. The pandemic’s economic pressures and acceleration of direct-to-consumer streaming adoption places an even higher premium on these points.

To accomplish this, we are going to do the following:

We are elevating HBO Max in the organization and expanding its scope globally.

We are simplifying how we organize our studios.

We are creating a consolidated International unit focused on scale and efficiency.

We are bringing our key commercial activities into one group to allow us to operate more strategically.

We are making other structural changes that will help us operate more effectively and efficiently.

Andy Forssell, General Manager of HBO Max, will now be leading a newly created HBO Max operating business unit and report to me. Andy and his team will be responsible for the product, marketing, consumer engagement and global rollout of HBO Max.

Ann Sarnoff, Warner Bros. Chair and CEO, will be leading our newly created Studios and Networks Group, combining original production (content studios) and programming capabilities currently spread across Warner Bros., HBO, HBO Max, TNT, TBS and TruTV. This group will oversee all WarnerMedia television series and motion picture development, production and programming, partnering with Andy to ensure HBO Max is successful globally.

Casey Bloys, President HBO Programming, will also be taking on original content responsibilities for HBO Max and the domestic linear networks TNT, TBS, and TruTV. Casey will report to Ann. Casey and the HBO team have done an incredible job over the last several decades delighting consumers with HBO original programming and I am excited for Casey and this expanded team to have an even greater impact on the world.

The Warner Bros. Motion Pictures Group continues to be led by Chairman Toby Emmerich. Warner Bros. Television Studios group continues to be led by Chairman Peter Roth. Warner Bros. Interactive remains part of the Studios and Networks group, along with our Global Brands and Franchises team including DC led by Pam Lifford, and our Kids, Young Adults and Classics business led by Tom Ascheim, all focused on engaging fans with our brands and franchises through games and other interactive experiences.

Gerhard Zeiler, currently Chief Revenue Officer, will now be leading a newly integrated international group comprised of the international operations of Warner Bros., HBO and Turner Networks. This group will be responsible for local execution of all WarnerMedia linear businesses, commercial activities, and regional programming for HBO Max.

Tony Goncalves, CEO of Otter and a key leader of HBO Max, will lead the new commercial unit that combines the U.S. advertising sales and distribution groups with our home entertainment and content licensing so that all commercial activities are strategically managed across internal and external customers.

Christy Haubegger, Chief Enterprise Inclusion Officer, will now also oversee the global marketing and communications team including branding and corporate social responsibility, as we bring together all of our efforts around equity and inclusion throughout our business.

Jeff Zucker continues as Chairman of WarnerMedia News and Sports. Pascal Desroches (CFO), Rich Tom (CTO), Jim Cummings (CHRO), Priya Dogra (EVP, Strategy and Corporate Development) and Jim Meza (EVP, General Counsel) continue to report to me.

Simplifying our approach and narrowing our focus goes beyond, for example, having one content organization vs two. It also means that we will be reducing the size of our teams, our layers, and our overall workforce. These reductions are not in any way a reflection of the quality of the people impacted nor their work. It is simply a function of the above changes I believe are necessary for WarnerMedia and our collective ability to best serve customers. This is the part that is painful and very hard. It is difficult to find the appropriate words here to say other than that I am very sorry. These are talented, admired leaders and beloved colleagues.

Three of those talented, admired leaders who will be leaving the company are Bob Greenblatt, Kevin Reilly and Keith Cocozza. I want to thank Bob and Kevin for getting us to this point with the integration of HBO and the legacy Turner Networks and launch of HBO Max. It has been such an impressive sequence of events, and we are so much better for it. I also owe a tremendous amount of gratitude and thanks to Keith, for not only helping me navigate these last few months at the company – and with the media – but more importantly for his 19 years at the company through its evolution. I have never met a kinder, more collaborative executive in my career. I can’t wait to see how each of these leaders change the world in the years to come.

I realize this is a lot to take in. And none of us should expect the above changes to be easy. That said, we are successfully navigating a pandemic together and I know that, however challenging the above changes may be, we will also successfully navigate them as well. As each of you take some time to digest the above, I hope that you become more and more energized by how, together, we are boldly leaning into the future and this historic opportunity that is right in front of us. It is an honor to be on this team with each of you.

Jason


Source: WarnerMedia Restructures Under Kilar; Greenblatt and Reilly Out
 
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