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TV/Production Notes (Broadcast)
NBC Orders Comedies From ‘Superstore’ and ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ Creators, Sci-Fi Drama ‘La Brea’
By Jennifer Maas, TheWrap.com - Jan. 12, 2021

NBC has picked up three pilots to series for its 2021-22 slate, including comedies from “Superstore” creator Justin Spitzer, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” creator Dan Goor and writer Phil Augusta Jackson, and the sci-fi drama “La Brea,” the broadcast network said Tuesday.

From Spitzer, “American Auto” is a single-camera comedy set at the headquarters of a major American automotive company in Detroit where a floundering group of executives try to rediscover the company identity amidst a rapidly changing industry. The show stars Ana Gasteyer, Jon Barinholtz, Harriet Dyer, Humphrey Ker, Michael B. Washington, Tye White and X Mayo.

Spitzer will write and executive produce the series alongside Aaron Kaplan, Dana Honor and Jeff Blitz, who directed the pilot.

“American Auto” hails from Universal Television, Spitzer Holding Company and Kapital Entertainment.

“Grand Crew” is created by Jackson and is centered on a group of Black friends who “unpack the ups and downs of life and love at a wine bar.” The single-camera comedy’s cast includes Echo Kellum, Justin Cunningham, Carl Tart, Aaron Jennings and Nicole Byer.

Jackson will executive produce the show, which hails from Universal Television, alongside Goor. Mo Marable is a co-executive producer and directed the pilot.

“La Brea” is a drama from David Applebaum (“NCIS: New Orleans”) that stars Natalie Zea, Zyra Gorecki and Chiké Okonkwo.

Here’s the description for the Universal Television and Keshet Studios-produced series, per NBC: “When a massive sinkhole mysteriously opens in Los Angeles, it tears a family in half, separating mother and son from father and daughter. When part of the family find themselves in an unexplainable primeval world, alongside a disparate group of strangers, they must work to survive and uncover the mystery of where they are and if there is a way back home.”

Along with Applebaum, executive producers include Avi Nir, Alon Shtruzman, Peter Traugott, Rachel Kaplan and Ken Woodruff.

“American Auto,” “Grand Crew” and “La Brea” were the first series pickups at NBC since Susan Rovner became chairman of entertainment content across NBCUniversal’s NBC, its six cable networks and Peacock.

“Our driving force has always been to seek out talented storytellers who have a strong point of view,” Lisa Katz, who was recently named president of scripted content by Rover, said in a statement Tuesday. “While these shows are very different thematically , what they have in common is a unique voice, excellent world building, and compelling storytelling. We can’t wait to share them with TV fans everywhere.”

Source: NBC Orders Comedies 'American Auto' and 'Grand Crew,' Sci-Fi 'La Brea' (thewrap.com)
 

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TV/Business Notes (OTT)
AT&T TV Now is now AT&T TV — here’s what that means
By Julia Alexander, TheVerge.com - Jan. 12, 2021

AT&T TV Now is no more. New customers can no longer sign up for telecom’s skinny bundle TV service, similar to YouTube TV or Hulu with Live TV.

Instead, customers can only sign up for AT&T TV. Simply put: AT&T now has one virtual TV service instead of two. Existing customers will be able to continue accessing the service and shouldn’t experience any disruptions, a spokesperson told Variety.

AT&T has rolled in parts of AT&T TV Now into AT&T TV, including getting rid of the annual contract and not requiring people to own the AT&T TV hardware. Instead, people can use their own compatible devices (Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, etc.) to stream, according to AT&T’s website. There are three different pricing tiers that customers can choose from depending on what channels they want, including add-ons like additional sports and premium channels like HBO. Prices range from $70 to $95, more than double AT&T TV Now’s original starting price.

“We’re bringing more value and simplicity by merging these two streaming services into a single AT&T TV experience,” Vince Torres, senior vice president of marketing at AT&T, told Variety.

AT&T TV Now has been a tumultuous bet, even if you look beyond the fact that AT&T took an already confusing naming scheme (DirecTV and DirecTV Now) and made it even worse (they became AT&T TV and AT&T TV Now, respectively, in 2019). Launched in 2016 at $35 a month for 65 channels, the idea was to hop on the cord-cutting trend. It worked for a minute, but as AT&T faced continuous rising costs, licensing woes, and increased competition from new players, numbers started dropping.

In September 2018, AT&T TV Now controlled 25 percent of internet TV subscriber market share; by September 2020, that dropped to just 8 percent, according to data from analytical firm Antenna. While Hulu with Live TV, YouTube TV, and Fubo are all seeing some growth, AT&T TV Now has radically shrunk. Throw in rising prices and channel blackouts caused over licensing disagreements, and it’s not difficult to see why AT&T TV Now failed.

AT&T TV Now went from a peak of 1.86 million customers in the third quarter of 2018 to less than 685,000 in September 2020. More often than not, trying to find the balance between the cost to run skinny bundle TV services and keeping monthly subscription prices low results in a path to a profitless future. Even if former AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson thought otherwise.

“[We are absolutely convinced that this is going to be very, very attractive for a large group of customers who really aren’t even in the market today,” Stephenson said in 2016 ahead of DirecTV Now’s (then AT&T TV Now) launch, according to Variety.

Source: AT&T TV Now is now AT&T TV — here’s what that means - The Verge
 

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TV/Production Notes (Cable)
Matthew McConaughey Drama Series Redeemer, From True Detective Creator Nic Pizzolatto, Scrapped at FX
By Michael Ausiello, TVLine.com - Jan. 12, 2021

FX has pulled the plug on Redeemer, the in-the-works drama series that would have reunited True Detective auteur Nic Pizzolatto with Season 1 headliner Matthew McConaughey, TVLine has confirmed.

According to THR, McConaughey dropped out of the project (which was announced last January), prompting FX to scrap it altogether.

Redeemer, based on Patrick Colman’s 2019 novel The Churchgoer, centered on a “minister-turned-dissolute security guard whose search for a missing woman in Texas leads him through a corruption-steeped criminal conspiracy, as his past and present impact and entwine around a mystery of escalating violence and deceit.” The potential series marked Pizzolatto’s first project under his new overall deal with Fox 21 TV Studios and FX Productions. Per THR, Pizzolatto is now negotiating an early exit from the deal.

McConaughey and Pizzolatto previously teamed on the critically acclaimed first season of HBO’s True Detective, in which McConaughey played Detective Rust Cohle. His performance earned him an Emmy nod for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. The crime anthology has since aired two more seasons, the most recent of which starred Oscar winner Mahershala Ali and concluded in February 2019. HBO has not yet made a decision on a potential Season 4.

Source: ‘Redeemer’ Cancelled: FX Scraps Matthew McConaughey Drama Series | TVLine
 

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TV Sports/Nielsen Overnights (Football)
NFL Wild Card Weekend Hits Multiyear Ratings Low
By Rick Porter, The Hollywood Reporter - Jan. 12, 2021

The opening round of the NFL playoffs drew a significantly smaller audience than it did a year ago. CBS drew the biggest audience of the wild-card weekend, with an assist from Nickelodeon.

The expanded wild-card round featured six games on Jan. 9 and 10, two more than in past years. Those six contests averaged about 24.3 million TV viewers — way above the league's regular season average of 15.4 million, but also well below the comparable weekend in 2020. (Digital and streaming audience figures weren't available at publication time; in addition to league and network properties offering streaming, NBC's Sunday primetime game was also available on Peacock.)

Excluding the two extra games — a 1 p.m. ET broadcast Saturday on CBS and NBC's Sunday primetime telecast — the four contests that aired in the same windows as those a year ago averaged about 25.2 million viewers, down about 18 percent from the 30.7 million who watched wild card games last year. It was the smallest combined viewership for wild-card weekend since at least 2014.

The biggest audience of the weekend tuned in to CBS and Nickelodeon late Sunday afternoon. The two ViacomCBS outlets drew a combined 30.65 million viewers for their coverage of the New Orleans Saints' 21-9 win over the Chicago Bears. That was the biggest Sunday wild card audience for CBS Sports since 2014.

Nickelodeon's telecast, which was geared toward a younger audience, drew 2.06 million viewers — the biggest audience for any Nick program in almost four years. The telecast featured Nick-specific graphics, including virtual slime cannons that detonated after touchdowns, and announcers who took more time to explain rules and strategies in play on the field.

NBC's Sunday night game and ABC and ESPN's Sunday afternoon simulcast — a "mega-cast" that also included alternate feeds on ESPN2 and Freeform — tied for the second-largest audience, each drawing 24.78 million viewers. The Freeform telecast, meant to draw the Disney-owned cabler's young and female-skewing viewers, managed a scant 67,000 viewers, while ESPN2's analytics and betting-centric feed brought in 92,000.

Fox's late-afternoon Saturday game brought in just under 24 million viewers; NBC's Saturday primetime contest drew 21.37 million; and CBS' early afternoon Saturday game averaged 20.09 million. By comparison, the four games a year ago averaged between 26 million and 35 million viewers.

Source: NFL Wild Card Weekend Hits Multiyear Ratings Low | Hollywood Reporter
 

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TV/Nielsen Overnights (Broadcast)
Primetime Ratings Monday: ‘Bachelor’ Leads ABC
By Michael Malone, Broadcasting & Cable - Jan. 12, 2021

ABC won the Monday ratings derby, with The Bachelor setting the pace. ABC rated a 0.9 in viewers 18-49, per the Nielsen overnights, and a 5 share. In second was NBC at 0.5/3.

The Bachelor posted a 1.1 across two hours after last week’s 1.3 and 1.2, and The Good Doctor slid 29% to 0.5.

On NBC, it was 0.5s for Ellen’s Game of Games, The Wall and Weakest Link. Ellen’s was down from its 0.6/0.5 two-hour run a week ago while The Wall and Weakest Link stayed level.

CBS, Fox and Univision all rated a 0.4/2. CBS and Fox had reruns across prime.

Univision had Vencer El Desamor down 20% to 0.4 and Imperio de Mentiras and Dulce Ambicion both at a flat 0.3.

Telemundo got a 0.3/2. El Domo del Dinero got a 0.2 and Todo Por Mi Hija a 0.4, both flat. Falsa Identidad shot up 50% to 0.3.

The CW got a 0.1/0. Special All American Stories, hosted by Yogi Roth and Spencer Paysinger, got a 0.1. A Penn & Teller: Fool Us rerun followed.

Source: Primetime Ratings Monday: ‘Bachelor’ Leads ABC | Broadcasting+Cable (nexttv.com)
 

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TV Notes (Cable)
Tyler Perry’s ‘The Haves And the Have Nots’ To End With Season 8 On OWN
By Nellie Andreeva, Deadline.com - Jan. 12, 2021

OWN’s long-running Tyler Perry drama The Haves and the Have Nots will ending its 196-episode run at the end of its current eighth season. The final batch of episodes will return in May following tonight’s midseason finale.

The Haves and the Have Nots is the last Tyler Perry series on OWN under Perry’s deal, which ended in March 2019 when he moved to ViacomCBS and started creating and and producing shows for BET and BET+. Debuting in May 2013, it was OWN’s first scripted drama and one of the network’s highest-rated series. Along with the other Perry shows, it was a main driving force behind OWN’s ratings ascent after early struggles.

Over the course of the series’ run, The Haves and the Have Nots averaged nearly 3 million viewers and always ranked among the Top 2 scripted cable series among African American women and total viewers during all seven seasons.

The Haves and the Have Nots follows the complicated dynamic between the rich and powerful Cryer and Harrington families and the hired help who work for them in their opulent mansions. The series stars John Schneider, Tika Sumpter, Angela Robinson, Renee Lawless, Crystal Fox, Peter Parros, Tyler Lepley, Gavin Houston, Aaron O’Connell, Brett Davis and Brock Yurich.

The Haves and the Have Nots was the first scripted drama we aired on OWN, and to say it took off from the first day it hit the air is an understatement,” said Oprah Winfrey, who is instrumental in bringing Perry to OWN eight years ago. “It’s all due to one man’s creativity and very vivid imagination, a man I refer to as my ‘big little brother,’ Tyler Perry. I thank Tyler, the incredible cast, the tireless crew and every single viewer who watched with bated breath each week and tweeted along with us these past eight years. I will be watching alongside you all during this final season.”

In the dramatic final eight episodes with a finale no one will see coming, the wealthy residents of Savannah, Georgia are involved in a true-to-life Greek tragedy as Judge Jim Cryer (John Schneider) and his rich friends find out what happens when personal flaws go unchecked. Karma has not been kind to the elite one percenters.

“We are so grateful to Tyler Perry, the amazing cast and everyone at Tyler Perry Studios for eight incredible years of making The Haves and the Have Nots one of the biggest hits on cable television of the last decade,” said Tina Perry, president, OWN. “The series will forever hold its place in history as the network’s first ever scripted drama for which we are so proud. We can’t wait for fans to see the juicy storylines Tyler has planned for the final episodes.”

The Haves and the Have Nots is produced for OWN by Tyler Perry Studios and created, written and executive produced by Perry.

Source: Tyler Perry’s ‘The Haves and the Have Nots’ To End With Season 8 On OWN – Deadline
 

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TV Notes (Syndication)
Aaron Rodgers will call the shots: NFL star 'excited' to serve as ‘Jeopardy!’ guest host
By Cydney Henderson, USA Today - Jan. 12, 2021

NFL star Aaron Rodgers will be calling the shots… but not on the football field.

The Green Bay Packers quarterback revealed Tuesday that he will serve as a guest host on "Jeopardy!" following Alex Trebek's November death at 80 of pancreatic cancer.

"They’re doing some guest hosting spots, and it’s going to be released pretty soon, but I have the opportunity to be one of those," Rodgers announced on the "Pat McAfee Show" on SiriusXM. "I’m excited about that opportunity with 'Jeopardy!'"

Sony, which produces the games show, declined to comment.

The Super Bowl-winning quarterback competed on "Celebrity Jeopardy!" in 2015. He beat out astronaut Mark Kelly and "Shark Tank" entrepreneur Kevin O'Leary to earn a $50,000 donation to the MACC (Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer) Fund.

Although "my outfit wasn’t the greatest choice," said Rodgers, speaking fondly about his time on the show, including his love of the beloved host: "One of my idols growing up was Alex Trebek."

Trebek's final episode aired Friday, but was taped on Oct. 29, just 10 days before his death Nov. 8.

Following Trebek's death, Rodgers tweeted that "weeknights will never be the same." He added, "So many great memories and thankful to have met him."

On Monday, "Jeopardy!" went on without Trebek as champion. Instead, consulting producer and "Greatest of All Time" winner Ken Jennings stepped up to the podium as the first in a series of interim hosts. (He taped 30 episodes, so will preside over the show for at least six weeks.)

Rodgers was too busy with his day job to tune in after leading the Green Bay Packers to the postseason with a 13-3 record.

“I didn’t see Ken (Monday) night, I was watching some film and checked in on the college football championship as well for a little bit,” he said.

Rodgers will be one of many interim hosts before a permanent selection is made.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Katie Couric taped at least a week's worth of episodes, in what appears to be a long-term plan to audition permanent hosts on-air.

Sony again declined comment.

Contributing: Kelly Lawler

Source: Aaron Rodgers will guest host ‘Jeopardy!’ (usatoday.com)
 

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TV Review (Streaming)
Night Stalker’ Is Just Another Gory True-Crime Misfire
By Daniel D'Addario, Variety.com - Jan. 12, 2021

Richard Ramirez’s spree of terror through the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay Areas in 1984 and 1985 made for a psyche-shredding media fixation: The so-called “Night Stalker’s” rapaciousness — targeting people seemingly at random and with an appetite for violence that set him apart even among the history of psychopaths — provided insatiable fodder for television reports, a side effect that both burnished Ramirez’s legend and increased the effects of his reign of terror. Over and above his grievous crimes, Ramirez was creating an atmosphere of fear and mistrust that overlay an unhappy period for California.

This, at least, is the case made by “Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer,” a four-episode documentary series on Netflix. As an analysis of social madness, “Night Stalker,” directed by Tiller Russell, makes some interesting points; those, though, tend to be studded within a project that gives itself away to mania more frequently. Clogged with high-gloss but somewhat ludicrous footage, “Night Stalker” knows it’s about the deaths of innocents only inasmuch as that makes for a riveting story, but it lacks the seriousness of purpose to tell its story well.

In the main, the story follows Gil Carillo and Frank Salerno, the investigators tracking Ramirez; they’re interviewed in the present day with every cliché about P.I.’s in the unfeeling city in evidence: forebodingly-darkly-lit interviews, a re-enacted shot of a lonesome cop car accelerating down a lonely street, lit by streetlights. That the latter shot is handsome means about as much as does the impressive grossness of re-enacted shots of knives penetrating flesh, emerging coated in juicily crimson blood.

It can be boring to constantly write about true crime as lacking the deeply-thought-through intentionality to match its grave subject matter — in part because it happens so frequently. While Ramirez’s victims, including a kidnap victim he let go as well as families of the slain, get the chance to speak, here, the show’s pleasurable embrace of violence seems, in its effort to attract, tonally repulsive. Series like HBO’s “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark,” with its careful construction and deliberate pace, tend to be exceptions: More frequent are shows like this one, that tend to revel in the glamour and thrill of pretty gruesome real-life events.

Consider, say, a Los Angeles news reporter speaking to camera in the final episode and musing about “what it would be like to be attacked by him, to have him on top, to have him with a gun at your throat, knife” with a sort of kitschy fascination at her own revulsion. Why did this make the cut? We know by this point that Ramirez was dangerous. Or the fact that the first episode, for instance, ends with Carillo restaging his epiphany that the crimes were linked, saying “We got us a serial killer” — followed by amped-up rock music kicking in and the show’s title in pink graffiti font. It’s not that the thrill of the chase isn’t a real human emotion, however worthy; “Night Stalker,” though, tends to tip its hand in moments like these to reveal that the hunt for a serial murderer is, in its own sick way, kind of fun.

All of which suffocates that which, in the series, surfaces interesting warnings about precisely the sort of thing the show is doing. A sequence about Dianne Feinstein, then the mayor of San Francisco, giving away details of the investigation on television and thus scotching much of the detectives’ progress, makes a suggestive case for the power of TV news to warp perspective even at the highest levels. Then, though, Feinstein could be argued to be educating the public; now, “Night Stalker” seeks to re-create a climate of nasty fear for no ultimate higher purpose than four hours of thrills and chills.

'Night Stalker'
Premieres Wednesday, January 13th on Netflix.


Source: 'Night Stalker' Is Just Another Gory True-Crime Misfire: TV Review - Variety
 

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TV/Viewership Notes (Streaming)
Ozark, The Office, and Frozen 2 top the most-streamed entertainment of 2020, Nielsen says
By Nick Romano, EW.com - Jan. 12, 2021

Entertainment became a precious commodity in 2020. With nowhere to go due to a global pandemic that is still ongoing, people hunkered down and watched a crap-ton of movies and shows to pass the time, keep them sane, and allow them to escape. Now that the year is over, Nielsen, which expanded its TV-ratings-tracking systems to incorporate streaming numbers in recent years, released its findings for the entertainment we collectively streamed the most over the last 12 months.

Disney+ titles dominated Nielsen's top 10 report for movies, with Frozen 2 sitting at the top. Moana (Disney Animation), Onward (Pixar), Hamilton (Walt Disney Pictures), the live-action Aladdin (Walt Disney Pictures), Toy Story 4 (Pixar), and Zootopia (Disney Animation) were also in the top 10. Dr. Seuss's The Grinch, found on Hulu these days (a Disney-controlled platform), also made its way on the list, along with Secret Life of Pets 2 and Spenser Confidential, the latter two hosted by Netflix.

Netflix seemed to dominate the television findings, both in terms of Nielsen's list of original series and acquired series. Ozark, Lucifer, and The Crown took the top three spots on the original series report, and The Office (which only just moved to Peacock in the new year), Grey's Anatomy, and Criminal Minds topped the acquired-series report.

The Office by far out-streamed the rest in terms of views. According to Nielsen, the Steve Carell-led comedy racked up 57 billion minutes of streams across 192 episodes in 2020, while the show was on Netflix. Viewers watched 30.5 billion minutes of Ozark across 28 episodes in the same period. By comparison, 14.9 billion minutes of Frozen 2 were streamed.

See the top-10 findings below, ranked by minutes streamed.

Original series
1. Ozark (30.5 billion)
2. Lucifer (18.97 billion)
3. The Crown (16.3 billion)
4. Tiger King (15.6 billion)
5. The Mandalorian (14.5 billion)
6. The Umbrella Academy (13.5 billion)
7. The Great British Baking Show (13.3 billion)
8. Boss Baby: Back in Business (12.6 billion)
9. Longmire (11.4 billion)
10. You (10.97 billion)

Acquired series
1. The Office (57.1 billion)
2. Grey's Anatomy (39.4 billion)
3. Criminal Minds (35.4 billion)
4. NCIS (28.1 billion)
5. Schitt's Creek (23.8 billion)
6. Supernatural (20.3 billion)
7. Shameless (18.2 billion)
8. New Girl (14.6 billion)
9. The Black List (14.5 billion)
10. The Vampire Diaries (14.1 billion)

Movies
1. Frozen 2 (14.9 billion)
2. Moana (10.5 billion)
3. Secret Life of Pets 2 (9.1 billion)
4. Onward (8.4 billion)
5. Dr. Seuss's The Grinch (6.2 billion)
6. Hamilton (6.1 billion)
7. Spenser Confidential (5.4 billion)
8. Aladdin (2019) (5.1 billion)
9. Toy Story 4 (4.4 billion)
10. Zootopia (4.4 billion)


Nielsen's findings note that streaming now accounts for nearly a quarter (24 percent) of all usage in American households with smart TVs.

Scott N. Brown, general manager of audience measurement at Nielsen, mused in a statement, "A bigger question might be what will audiences do following any recovery, how the behavior adopted during stay-at-home orders might influence habits when consumers have the ability to go back to theaters to enjoy that experience and how content creators will leverage data to make the best decisions regarding distribution platforms in the future."

Source: Ozark, The Office, Frozen 2 among most-streamed movies and TV of 2020 | EW.com
 

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TV/Health Notes
‘Saved by the Bell’ Star Dustin Diamond Hospitalized, Cancer Diagnosis ‘Likely’
By Reid Nakamura, TheWrap.com - Jan. 12, 2021

Former “Saved By the Bell” star Dustin Diamond has been hospitalized with an as-yet undiagnosed illness, TheWrap has confirmed.

TMZ first reported the news on Tuesday that Diamond was hospitalized in Florida over the weekend “after feeling pain all over his body and a general sense of unease.” Representatives for the actor later told E! News that doctors believe a cancer diagnosis is “likely,” but tests are still being conducted to determine the cause.

A spokesperson for the actor confirmed to TheWrap that Diamond has been hospitalized but was unable to provide any update on his condition.

Diamond rose to fame in the ’90s as one of the stars of the original “Saved By the Bell.” He starred as Samuel “Screech” Powers on all four seasons of the NBC comedy alongside Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Lark Voorhies, Dennis Haskins, Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, Elizabeth Berkley, and Mario Lopez. He also returned for both the spinoff series “Saved by the Bell: The College Years” and “The New Class.”

Diamond was the only original cast member not invited back for the recent “Saved by the Bell” reboot at Peacock. His absence is explained by one of the characters referencing the fact that Screech is living on the International Space Station with a robot sidekick.

Source: 'Saved by the Bell' Star Dustin Diamond Hospitalized (thewrap.com)
 

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TV/Critic's Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - Jan. 13, 2021

2021 PRESIDENTIAL IMPEACHMENT HEARINGS
Various Networks, 9:00 a.m. ET

It was one week ago today when viewers were tuned in to catch the late-breaking returns in the second of two special election Senate races in Georgia, and to watch Congress certify the electoral college votes awarding the presidency to Joe Biden. And while Democrats ended up winning the Senate by taking both runoff races, and while Congress eventually certified Biden as the winner, something else happened last Wednesday. Something major. Something unthinkable. Something horrid. And because President Trump incited his followers to storm the U.S. Capitol one week ago, and because of what transpired before and after that assault, the House of Representatives had drafted an article of impeachment which they are scheduled to present today, unless Vice President Mike Pence invokes the 25th amendment. So expect to watch the House pass its impeachment resolution and send it on to the Senate. And even though that’s the second time in a year, this is no TV rerun. It is, however, first-draft history in the making, no matter what happens.

CALL YOUR MOTHER
ABC, 9:30 p.m. ET
SERIES PREMIERE:
In this new ABC sitcom, Kyra Sedgwick plays an empty nest mom who decides to fly across the country to hover over her grown kids and help raise their respective families. Clearly a pre-pandemic concept, this sitcom also is so old-fashioned that it’s shot multi-camera in front of a studio audience, the I Love Lucy / Mom way. More than that, it's ABC’s only new midseason entry that’s scripted, rather than a reality, competition, game or quiz show. So that’s worth a mention, right? Hello? Where’d you go?


Source: TV Show Reviews, Recommendations... TV Worth Watching!
 

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TV/Critic's Notes (Streaming)
Sex and the City Is Nothing Without Samantha Jones
By Judy Berman, TIME.com - Jan. 11, 2021

And just like that, Sex and the City is back. In separate Instagram posts Sunday—ones that raised the dreary question of how the show’s characters would deal with the rise of social media—Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon and Kristin Davis unveiled an extremely short teaser for the revival, pairing generic footage of New York with the unmistakable clickety-clack of a turn-of-the-millennium laptop keyboard. Reports followed that the HBO Max project, set to begin production this spring, would be a 10-episode limited series titled And Just Like That and featuring the original gal pals in their 50s. Well, all of them except for Kim Cattrall‘s Samantha Jones; in recent years, as rumors swirled of discord between the actor and her cast mates, Cattrall has said she’s done with the franchise. On Twitter following the announcement, Parker told a fan that she doesn’t dislike her former co-star, but “Samantha isn’t part of this story. But she will always be part of us. No matter where we are or what we do.”

Whoever you chose to believe about Cattrall’s departure, as the bard Carrie Bradshaw might put it: I couldn’t help but wonder… what would Sex and the City look like without Samantha? And I was hardly alone in that. Along with the inevitable jokes about TV-revival fatigue and the havoc SATC mania may or may not have wrought on its beloved Manhattan, people wanted to know what would become of Samantha. Would she be killed off? Replaced? (Suggestions ranged from the dilettante purse designer played by Jennifer Coolidge in the original series to Leslie Jones, who seemed to have Samantha confused with Sabrina the Teenage Witch. My pick: 30 Rock resident ham Jenna Maroney. No, not Jane Krakowski, the actor who played Jenna—Jenna, the character.) All of which makes for fun speculation. But trust that I am dead serious when I insist that—whether you call it And Just Like That or 2 Sex 2 City or Governor Miranda Hobbes—there’s no classic show to resurrect without Samantha.

SATC premiered, in 1998, with a question that sounds quaint now but was revolutionary for TV at the time: what if women had sex like men? That is, recreationally and selfishly, with no need for emotional connection, zero expectations of commitment and little regard for the feelings of their partner. For the majority of the show’s six seasons (it seems polite to exclude the two terrible movies that followed from this narrative), it was Samantha who kept this experiment alive. As corporate lawyer Miranda chased success, Rules Girl Charlotte chased marital bliss and Carrie the ever-inquisitive sex columnist chased unavailable men, Cattrall’s character was the unapologetic hedonist, chasing pleasure and novelty before all else. In scandalizing the brunch crew, she pushed the national conversation around women and sex forward a generation. Perhaps her most valuable contribution was to remind us that, when it comes to dating, every woman is a discrete person with individual preferences.

TV had seen its share of great romantic comedies by the time SATC debuted. There were plenty of popular sitcoms about female friendship, too, from The Golden Girls to Kate & Allie to Living Single; there is certainly no dearth of them now, either. But there had never been a show in which women spoke so openly about sex. And along with being the most adventurous of the SATC clique—compare her brief yet steamy same-sex love affair with that time Carrie played an anxious game of Spin the Bottle with Alanis Morissette—Samantha was the bluntest, funniest and least judgmental in discussing it. “I will not be judged by you or society. I will wear whatever I want and blow whomever I want as long as I can breathe and kneel”—so sayeth the divine Ms. Jones. A self-identified “try-sexual,” down to try anything once, she talked her incredulous friends through her one-night stands, her utter lack of interest in becoming a mother, the sex tape she purposely shot and distributed and, on a more serious note, her history with abortion. When she regained her libido after a heartbreaking brush with breast cancer (that felt weirdly punitive on the writers’ part, but I digress) and jumped back into bed with her 20-something model/actor boyfriend, you wanted to stand up and cheer.

When the writer Taffy Brodesser-Akner asked her Twitter followers, on Sunday, to “respond below with your suggested plotline that explains Samantha’s absence,” Parker jumped in with a reply of her own: “Pen and paper at ready.” Such is her right as the show’s executive producer and star. But, as someone who enjoyed SATC immensely as a college student before growing up to find it more groundbreaking than, well, actually good as television, I don’t really see the point. This is not a great moment for a series about three upper-middle-class, white, post-feminist women partying their way through a city even they shouldn’t be able afford—amid an economic climate where the conspicuous consumption of thousand-dollar shoes calls to mind the excesses of Marie Antoinette, to say nothing of the damage our current global health crisis has done to the sex lives of single New Yorkers. To have any chance of relevance in 2021, Sex and the City would need to lean hard on 60-year-old Samantha Jones as she navigated the increasingly app-based, gender-fluid, kink-savvy dating scene she helped to bring about. Better still, the show’s producers could have heeded some of their character’s wisest words: “What happened was in the past. Leave it there.”

Source: 'Sex and the City' Revival Is Nothing Without Samantha | Time
 

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TV Notes
On The Air
WEDNESDAY JAN. 13, 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 - The Goldbergs
8:30PM - American Housewife

9PM - The Conners
9:30PM - Call Your Mother (Series Premiere)

10PM - The Chase (R)
* * * *
11:35PM - Jimmy Kimmel Live! (Bryan Cranston; Carrie ****; Beach Bunny performs)
12:37AM - Nightline

CBS:

8PM - The Price Is Right at Night (Special)
9PM - SEAL Team
10PM - S.W.A.T.

* * *
11:35PM - The Late Show With Stephen Colbert (TV host Samantha Bee; Paul Mescal)
12:37AM - The Late Late Show With James Corden (Paul Bettany; Lennie James)

NBC:
8PM - Chicago Med
9PM - Chicago Fire
10PM - Chicago P.D.
* * * *
11:34PM - The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (Riz Ahmed; Angela Bassett; Jacob Collier and Mahalia perform)
12:37AM - Late Night With Seth Meyers (Bobby Moynihan; Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.))
1:38AM - A Little Late With Lilly Singh (Rainn Wilson)

FOX:
8PM - The Masked Dancer (62 min.)
9:02PM - Name That Tune (58 min.)

THE CW:
8PM - Riverdale
(R)
9PM - Nancy Drew (R)

PBS:
8PM - Nature - The Alps: The High Life
9PM - NOVA: Secrets in Our DNA
10PM - When Disaster Strikes - The Silent Killer: Somalia (60 min.)

UNIVISION:
8PM - Vencer el Desamor
9PM - Imperio de Mentiras
10PM - Dulce Ambición

TELEMUNDO:
7PM - El Domo del Dinero (120 min.)
9PM - Todo Por Mi Hija
10PM - Falsa Identidad


CBSSN:
7PM - College Basketball: Duquesne at Dayton (LIVE)
9PM - College Basketball: Boise State at Wyoming (LIVE)

ESPN 2:
7PM -
College Basketball: Arkansas at LSU (LIVE)
9PM - College Basketball: Texas Tech at Texas (LIVE)

SCIENCE:

7PM - BattleBots (120 min.)
9PM - BattleBots: Mega Fights (120 min.)

ESPN:

7:30PM - NBA Basketball: Brooklyn Nets at New York Knicks (LIVE)
10PM - NBA Basketball: New Orleans Pelicans at Los Angeles Clippers (LIVE)

DISCOVERY:
8PM - Undercover Billionaire: Episode 2 (3 hrs. 5 min.)

HGTV:
8PM - House in a Hurry (Back-to-back episodes, 60 min.)
9PM - Home Town
10PM - House Hunters
10:30PM - House Hunters: International

LIFETIME:
8PM - Married at First Sight (Season Premiere, 3 hrs. 3 min.)

MTV:
8PM - The Challenge (90 min.)
* * * *
11PM - Ridiculousness: Chanel and Sterling CCLVIII (30 min.)

NBCSN:
8PM - NHL Hockey: Chicago Blackhawks at Tampa Bay Lightning (LIVE)
10:30PM - NHL Hockey: St. Louis Blues at Colorado Avalanche (LIVE)


OXYGEN:
8PM - Snapped (60 min.)


TLC:
8PM - My 600-Lb. Life (120 min.)

TNT:

8PM - All Elite Wrestling: Dynamite (120 min., LIVE)

USA:
8PM - WWE NXT (128 min., LIVE)

A&E:
9PM - Court Cam
9:30PM - Court Cam
10:01PM - Nature Gone Wild
10:32PM - Nature Gone Wild (32 min.)


BET:
9PM - Tyler Perry's House of Payne
9:30PM - Tyler Perry's Assisted Living

BRAVO:
9PM - The Real Housewives of Orange County (Season Finale)
10PM - The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City
* * * *
11PM - Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen (Guests TBA, 30 min.)


HGTV:
8PM - House in a Hurry (Back-to-back episodes, 61 min.)
9:01PM - Home Town: Ben's Workshop
10:02PM - House Hunters
10:33PM - House Hunters International


HISTORY:
9PM - Forged in Fire (63 min.)

ID:

9PM - The Murder Tapes
10PM - Killer ID (60 min.)

NAT GEO:
9PM - Trafficked with Mariana van Zeller (120 min.)


TBS:

10:30PM - Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (Season Premiere: Jan. 13, 2021)
* * * *
11PM - Conan (Andrew Rannells)
(R)

E!:
11:30PM - Nightly Pop (30 min.)


Source: TV Listings- Find Local TV Listings and Watch Full Episodes - Zap2it.com
 

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TV/Business Notes
CNN Grounds Its Long-Running Airport Network
By Brian Steinberg, Variety.com - Jan. 12, 2021

CNN Airport, a long-running out-of-home media operation that became an integral part of the traveling experience for people flying through Chicago’s O’Hare, Dallas’ Love Field or even Fresno-Yosemite International Airport, is shutting down, the victim of shifts in consumer behavior that are moving more quickly than a Boeing 737.

CNN said the operation, which aired a mix of news from CNN and snippets from other WarnerMedia networks in 58 different airports in the U.S., would close as of March 31.

“The steep decline in airport traffic because of COVID-19, coupled with all of the new ways that people are consuming content on their personal devices, has lessened the need for the CNN Airport Network and we had to make the very difficult decision to end its operation,” the AT&T unit said in a statement.

This is the second CNN operation to be shuttered in the past five months. The company scuttled its Great Big Story video unit in September.

Launched initially in 1991 and billed as CNN’s Airport Network, the operation served as a way to keep the cable-news outlet in front of consumers even when they couldn’t watch traditional TV — and yet might be in a situation where keeping up with the news was critical. Over the years, CNN’s presence in airport terminals became so ubiquitous that in 2018, Congressman Steve King, a Republican from Iowa, tried to prod the Federal Communications Commission to have other companies’ content placed in transportation hubs.

CNN’s media offering let local merchants and transportation authorities place their own messages on the service, which also carried national commercials, news segments and weather and sports updates. Some things were never shown, including footage of commercial aviation crashes and content not appropriate for family viewing.

Even a media offering with little obvious competition was being challenged by a new and growing rival. Over the years, airport executives began to notice travelers were using airport Wi-Fi connections to stream video choices of their own. Suddenly, a captive audience was freed.

“Having to say goodbye to such a beloved brand is not easy,” said Jeff Zucker, CNN Worldwide’s president, in a statement. “I want to thank our friends and colleagues who have contributed to its success and to celebrate the fact that for 30 years, the CNN Airport Network has kept millions of domestic travelers informed. It also became an iconic part of the traveling experience in this country. I am sure most of us have a story to tell about which airport we were at when we first learned of a major news event. Be proud that we had a hand in sharing some incredible stories with many millions of people over the past three decades.”

Source: CNN Grounds Its Long-Running Airport Network - Variety
 

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TV Sports/Nielsen Overnights (College Football)
TV Ratings: College Football Playoff Championship Plummets
By Rick Porter, The Hollywood Reporter - Jan. 12, 2021

The College Football Playoff championship game drew its smallest audience ever on Monday night.

Alabama's 52-24 rout of Ohio State in the title game averaged 18.65 million viewers across ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU, a drop of 27 percent — and almost 7 million viewers — compared to last year's title game (25.46 million). It was Monday's most watched program by a huge margin among both total viewers and adults 18-49 (5.05 rating) but fell well short of every prior CFP championship game dating back to 2015.

The previous six title matchups averaged about 27.6 million viewers, and the low before Monday was 25.28 million for Clemson's blowout win over Alabama in 2019. Nearly all of the TV audience tuned into the main broadcast on ESPN, which drew 18.22 million viewers; ESPN2 and ESPNU combined for 435,000.

The title game, in fact, averaged fewer viewers than the 18.8 million for the two semifinal matchups on New Year's Day.

On the broadcast networks, The Bachelor led primetime with 4.74 million viewers and a 1.17 rating among adults 18-49 for ABC. The Good Doctor returned with 4.06 million viewers and 0.57 in the 18-49 demo, even with its last episode of the fall.

Outside of college football coverage, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show was the most watched cable show with 4.22 million viewers. The first hour of WWE Monday Night Raw on USA (0.62) and Cuomo Prime Time on CNN (0.58) led the non-football offerings in the 18-49 demographic.

Source: TV Ratings: College Football Playoff Championship Plummets | Hollywood Reporter
 

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Not surprising when only a half dozen or so Power5 teams have a realistic chance to win the CFP every year. People are getting sick of it and interest will continue to wane until they expand it to eight teams. Entire regions of the country are left out now, key players skip bowls because they're not in the CFP, no one outside the Power5 gets a shot to be Cinderella because the P5 wants to keep the playoff money. Not to mention teams outside the top four miss out on recruits when they don't get that exposure, which makes the rich get richer.

It has to change, but the contract is not up until 2025 IIRC.
 

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Obituary
Siegfried Fischbacher of Siegfried & Roy Dies at 81
By Tony Maglio, TheWrap.com - Jan. 14, 2021

Siegfried Fischbacher, one-half of Vegas magic act Siegfried & Roy, has died, according to The Washington Post. He was 81.

Fischbacher passed away at his home in Las Vegas, WaPo wrote. His publicist told the newspaper the cause was pancreatic cancer.

TheWrap reached out to Fischbacher’s publicist for this story, but we did not immediately hear back.

Roy Horn died last year from COVID-19. He was 75.

“Today, the world has lost one of the greats of magic, but I have lost my best friend,” Fischbacher said in a statement following Horn’s death. “From the moment we met, I knew Roy and I, together, would change the world. There could be no Siegfried and Roy without Roy, and no Roy without Siegfried.”

“Roy was a fighter his whole life including during these final days,” Fischbacher went on. “I give my heartfelt appreciation to the team of doctors, nurses and staff at Mountain View Hospital who worked heroically against this insidious virus that ultimately took Roy’s life.”

The duo met when Horn was working as a steward on a cruise ship. That’s where he first met Fischbacher, who was performing his magic act onboard.

Horn stepped in to assist, and afterward said, “Disappearing rabbits are ordinary, but can you make a cheetah disappear?” Little did the ship’s captain know, but Horn smuggled his adopted pet cheetah, Chico, on the ship.

Siegfried & Roy was born.

After 50 years of performing together, Siegfried & Roy ended their run when Horn was attacked by a white tiger during a 2003 show at the Mirage in Las Vegas. The animal bit into Horn’s neck and carried him offstage.

Horn nearly died on the spot due to blood loss. He suffered a stroke.

The attack severed Horn’s spine and permanently affected his ability to walk and speak.

Source: Siegfried Fischbacher of Siegfried & Roy Dies at 81 (thewrap.com)
 

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TV/Nielsen Overnight (Broadcast)
TV Ratings: Prodigal Son Slips With Tuesday Move, This Is Us Tops Night
By Matt Webb Mitovich, TVLine.com - Jan. 13, 2021

In the latest TV show ratings, Fox’s Prodigal Son opened Season 2 with 2.3 million total viewers and a 0.5 demo rating — well below both its freshman averages (3.4 mil/0.7, airing Mondays) as well as what Empire averaged in the Tuesday time slot last season (2.7 mil/0.7).

TVLine readers gave the sophomore opener an average grade of “A-“; read post mortem.

Opening Fox’s night, The Resident returned to 3.8 mil0/6, down a tick from its previous averages (4 mil/0.7, TVLine reader grade “A+”; read post mortem) and matching its demo low.

Elsewhere:

NBC | Zoey’s Playlist (2.6 mil/0.4, read post mortem) and This Is Us (5.3 mil/0.9, read recap and post mortem) both dipped, though the latter still topped Tuesday in both measures (with CBS in rerun mode). Nurses (2.6 mil/0.4) rose a tenth in the demo.

THE CW | Two-Sentence Horror Stories‘ Season 2 premiere averaged 530K/0.1, down a tick from time slot predecessor Swamp Thing‘s averages (710K/0.12). Trickster‘s Stateside debut (441K/0.1) was on par with Tell Me a Story Season 2 (376K/0.1).

ABC | Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2.2 mil/0.4) fell way shy of last week’s Lion King.

Source: TV Ratings for Tuesday, Jan. 12: ‘Prodigal Son’ Season 2 on Fox | TVLine
 
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