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Sam Miguel
12-13-2012, 09:38 AM
I thought I'd start a thread for TV in general, both local and international, so post away folks.

Sam Miguel
12-13-2012, 09:43 AM
By Jeffrey O. Valisno, Sub-Editor

Battle of breakfast TV

THE BATTLE for network ratings leadership extends beyond prime time television. Hours before the evening newscasts and star-studded soap operas try to outdo each other to boost audience shares at night, morning shows get the network wars going even before the sun rises.

Generally, it is said that what TV network Filipino audiences watch for breakfast, will be the same channel they will tune into at prime time since they get clued in on what to expect on TV that night. Morning shows usually set up the TV schedule for most households for the day until night. Jonathan L. CellonaAired live just as TV audiences are having their breakfasts, morning shows offer news and entertainment features, celebrity interviews, traffic updates, weather bulletins and household tips, among others.

ABS-CBN Corp. jump-starts its programming with Umagang Kay Ganda, anchored by a team of hosts led by Anthony Taberna and Bernadette Sembrano.

GMA Network Inc. starts its day with Unang Hirit, currently the longest running morning show on local television.

Not to be outdone, Pangilinan-led TV5 has Good Morning Club, the new kid on the block, which debuted on air just this year.

Veteran entertainment columnist Mario Hernando said competition among morning shows in the Philippines is “quite stiff,” as major networks see the morning bloc as a major battleground for these shows to showcase their strengths.

“Morning shows are important for TV networks because of the symbolic relationship that these shows have to the prime time slot at the evening, the performance of the network overall, as well as because of the ability of these morning shows to unlock a pot of gold in advertising revenues,” Mr. Hernando told BusinessWorld in an interview.

He explained that morning shows “set audience psyches” to help them decide on which programs they will watch at night when they get home from work or school.

“Generally, it is said that what TV network Filipino audiences watch for breakfast, will be the same channel they will tune into at prime time since they get clued in on what to expect on TV that night. Morning shows usually set up the TV schedule for most households for the day until night,” he said.

At the same time, the increasing popularity of morning shows among Filipinos in recent years has made these breakfast programs “virtual cash cows” for the news departments of TV networks.

“Before when the morning TV show format was not as popular as [they are] now, most Filipinos [would] tune in to their radio sets to get their dose of news in the morning,” he said.

“Now, on an average day, morning shows attract a combined audience of about 300,000 to 500,000 viewers nationwide per day. Those are huge numbers, and TV advertisers know that,” he added.

Because of that, he said that morning programs attract a big chunk of advertising revenues. “Just look at any morning show on air on any major TV network and you will see that they have all these product placements, sponsorships etc. These morning shows have more [TV] commercial loads, compared to all those late night public affairs shows,” Mr. Hernando said.

All these reasons, he said, explain why major TV networks are pulling out all the stops to ensure that their morning show dominates the ratings race.

“TV networks know that the stakes are high, and since watching morning shows for Filipino audiences is said to be a matter of habit, TV networks work hard to get audiences to choose their morning show, and keep them watching,” he explained.

ABS-CBN

ABS-CBN’s Umagang Kay Ganda began airing in 2007. Prior to that, the network aired Alas Singko Y Medya from 1996 to 2001. Hosted by Julius Babao and Christine Bersola, Alas Singko Y Medya (which literally means 5:30) is widely credited for boosting the popularity of the morning show format on local TV, spawning rival programs in other TV networks.

After programming adjustments and other short-lived morning programs (like Magandang Umaga Pilipinas), ABS-CBN settled with Umagang Kay Ganda, which now airs weekdays 5 a.m. to 8 a.m.

Ma. Regina “Ging” E. Reyes, head of ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs, said Umagang Kay Ganda boasts of an interesting mix of anchors and hosts that answers the varied needs of TV audiences.

“Seasoned journalists like Anthony ‘Ka Tunying’ Taberna, Bernadette Sembrano and Alex Santos are at the helm of news stories and interviews. Ariel Ureta and Winnie Cordero provide practical wisdom on relationships, family, parenting and consumer issues. The new generation of viewers who are tech-savvy, relates well with Bianca Gonzales, Iya Villana, Andrei Felix, Venus Raj and MJ Felipe. This team takes charge of showbiz, events, fashion, gadgets, pet issues and other ‘news-you-can-use’ type of stories. Earth science expert Edmund Rosales, delivers reliable weather reports combined with practical and relevant tips,” Ms. Reyes said in an e-mail to BusinessWorld.

She said that while the morning show appears as an “info-tainment” type of show, Umagang Kay Ganda is still predominantly driven by news stories.

“If something important breaks, you’ll be sure to get it first from Umagang Kay Ganda,” she said.

Ms. Reyes points out that the program also maximizes the use of social media. “There are various segments that rely heavily on viewers’ response in Facebook and Twitter like Ka Tunying’s ‘Punto por Punto’ (segment) and Ariel and Winnie’s ‘Sabi ni Mister, Sabi ni Misis’ polls,” the ABS-CBN news chief said.

She admits that the competition among morning shows is indeed stiff.

However, ABS-CBN’s expertise in the format makes Umagang Kay Ganda a formidable competitor in the morning show category, she noted.

“Since their introduction to Philippine networks, competition among morning programs has always been stiff. The challenge for Umagang Kay Ganda is re-inventing the wheel, so to speak, as most stories including features are dependent on seasons and occasions like summer, Halloween and Christmas. One might even compare efforts of morning shows to a race or a marathon, as each program strives to air a particular feature or news report first,” she said.

“ABS-CBN News blazed the trail for this news variety type of morning program with the birth of Alas Singko Y Medya in the ’90s. Since then, despite title and cast changes, our morning news program has always been an important part of news and current affairs’ programming.

Guided by our commitment to public service, we aim to make sure that the morning show delivers on its commitment to provide Filipino viewers with compelling news stories and useful information they need to start their morning, and guide them all throughout the day. That’s how important this show is to our news organization. Everything else is secondary,” she added.

And while ratings are considered crucial in the existence of any TV show, Ms. Reyes stressed that their audience preference remains the leading factor in deciding what gets shown on air.

“Umagang Kay Ganda’s primary responsibility is to its audience, thus, it is committed to provide news and features relevant to their lives.

While TV ratings are a gauge of how a particular segment fares, it is not the be-all and end-all when it comes to determining what goes into the show. Umagang Kay Ganda seeks to connect with its viewers at the early hours of his or her waking time as we believe that it is a privilege to be allowed into their homes in the morning. Segments like ‘Punto por Punto’ and ‘Sabi ni Mister, Sabi ni Misis’ are considered Umagang Kay Ganda staples but do not necessarily have sponsors,” Ms. Reyes explained.

She said Umagang Kay Ganda strives to strike a balance between news and entertainment features to keep audiences updated.

“Umagang Kay Ganda acknowledges the different needs of its audience for every timeslot. For early risers who often need to get their news straight and fast without clutter, Umagang Kay Ganda gives them a round-up of headlines, breaking news, weather and traffic reports in a concise manner. Umagang Kay Ganda also puts premium on news content, especially during breaking news situations and special coverage here and abroad. Entertainment and other features, on the other hand, strive to go beyond the usual fare to include live interviews, set visits and other directly useful information,” Ms. Reyes said.

Sam Miguel
12-13-2012, 09:43 AM
^^^ Continued

TV5

Proving that the Kapatid network is serious about its mornings, TV5 launched Good Morning Club last February. The show combines the network’s two previous morning shows Sapul Sa Singko (which started airing in 2010) and Kumare Club (which started airing in 2011).

And while the market already seemed crowded by other morning shows, TV5 is confident that Good Morning Cub is giving the competition enough reasons to be on the edge, said the show’s program manager Bing Maaño said.

“Unlike the two other morning shows, our features and entertainment segments are presented ‘tele-serye’ like. Instead of spiels we use dialogues. Instead of the usual segment introductions, we use scenes.

We call these segments infotainment -- information with entertainment,” Ms. Maaño said in an e-mail to BusinessWorld.

“It’s a competition of habits. Both networks have had their morning shows for more than a decade now. As for us, we are slowly building on that habit,” she added.

The current lineup of hosts includes Paolo Bediones, Grace Lee, Cheryl Cosim, Amy Perez, Chiqui Roa-Puno, Christine Bersola-Babao, Makata-tawanan, Lucky Mercado, Joseph Ubalde and Shalala.

But beginning Nov. 19, Edu Manzano -- who used to be one of the original hosts of ABS-CBN’s Umagang Kay Ganda and GMA’s Unang Hirit -- will come on board as the Good Morning Club’s regular host.

The show airs from 5 to 7 a.m. on weekdays.

“We have hosts that are real friends off and on camera and viewers can actually see and feel that when they watch us. We use the host’s equities in their segments, that’s why it comes out very naturally,” Ms. Maaño said.

“If you will notice our segments in Good Morning Club show the strengths and equities of our hosts. We do not make them do things they are not comfortable with. What they do in the program is basically what they do in their own homes. They are not acting or hosting, they are sharing and exchanging experiences with the viewers. It’s important that viewers relate to the segments or see themselves in the hosts or in the roles they play,” she added.

With segments like “Luto Na Ba T’yang?” which features the recipe of the day, “Chiz-Mwah” about showbiz news tidbits and “What the Fact?” which focuses on trivia, Good Morning Club hopes to sway viewers to consider shifting to TV5.

“Good Morning Club is what starts your day in the happy network. It’s a statement that mornings are about news and infotainment. It’s about giving viewers things to think about while keeping them entertained.

The program is fighting fairly well in the ratings the same with the other (TV5) news programs,” Ms. Maaño said.

There is also a social network component to the show.

“We’re not just a show, we’re a club and our members are the viewers who interact with us via our social networking sites. We make it a point that we include their comments, views and suggestions in the program,” she added.

At the same time, Ms. Maaño said the people behind Good Morning Club make it a point to strike a balance between providing news content and keeping the audiences entertained.

“Striking a balance means constantly reminding ourselves in the production team that we need to give viewers the important news of the day while we give them useful information and tips,” Ms. Maaño said.

“Infotainment, that’s how we want to label our features segments.

They entertain and at the same time educate the viewers. Public service is a key element of the program, guide to self-help, inspiring real-life stories and free advice or access to information on various issues that attracts viewers,” she added.

Sam Miguel
12-13-2012, 09:44 AM
^^^ Continued

GMA

Initially conceptualized to compete against ABS-CBN’s Alas Singko Y Medya, GMA launched Unang Hirit in 1999. The show started the war by airing at 5:15 a.m. -- 15 minutes earlier than its competitor which started at 5:30 a.m.

The message was made even clearer by the show’s theme song, composed by Jimmy Antiporda. The song has a line that goes: “Sa Unang Hirit, mauuna ka. (With Unang Hirit, you will get ahead.)”

GMA assistant vice-president for public affairs Arlene Carnay said Unang Hirit “not only delivers news, information and entertainment to morning TV viewers, it also serves as an avenue for public service.”

“During the most trying times such as fires, floods, and other calamities; important events such as opening of school, Undas (All Saint’s Day) and Holy Week; and other events of national importance, Unang Hirit is always at the forefront of bringing much-needed Serbisyong Totoo (True Service) to our needy Kapuso,” Ms. Carnay said in an e-mail to BusinessWorld.

Ms. Carnay said the show’s roster of anchors (Arnold Clavio, Rhea Santos, Connie Sison, Ivan Mayrina, Pia Arcangel) and hosts (Suzi Abrera, Lyn Ching Pascual, Drew Arellano, Monica Verallo, Love Añover, Luane Dy, Tonipet Gaba and Lhar Santiago) is also one of its best assets.

“Their strong credibility, exceptional hosting skills, and authentic friendship further strengthen the equity of the show,” she added.

She said Unang Hirit’s pool of experts includes one of the country’s top socioeconomic experts Professor Winnie Monsod who provides context and clarity to current issues. “Professor Monsod’s analysis segment alternates with the free legal advice on air [given] by our legal expert, Atty. Gaby Concepcion,” Ms. Carnay said.

“Also in our team are fashion and etiquette expert Olen Lim, dance diva Regine Tolentino, and our resident foodie Nancy Lumen. Rain or shine, GMA resident meteorologist Nathaniel Cruz is around to update viewers about the weather,” she added.

With the increasing competition coming from other TV networks, Ms. Carnay said GMA remains committed in keeping Unang Hirit the number one morning show in the country today.

“Just like in other genres in Philippine TV today, there exists a high level of competition among TV networks and the morning show genre is no different,” Ms. Carnay said.

“Healthy competition challenges us to perform better and be more attuned to the public’s needs,” she added.

She said the show’s ability to adapt to the changing times is one of its strengths.

“Unang Hirit is serious in delivering news and informative features that viewers need to know to start their day. But we believe that it is also our role to brighten every Filipino’s day by providing wholesome entertainment for the whole family. Creating the right mix of news and light features varies day-to-day, but we take on the challenge of anticipating what the public needs,” Ms. Carnay said.

“Moreover, Unang Hirit has done something to public service that no other show has done. It has made it fun! All thanks to the creativity, sincerity and wide network of its teams. We have partnered with major universities, colleges and schools on the announcement of class suspensions,” she added.

Ms. Carnay admits that ratings play an important factor in the planning of Unang Hirit.

“However, it is not the only factor. Unang Hirit strives to be relevant and responsive to the needs of our viewers. We believe that by making our viewers’ needs our priority; winning in the ratings game will follow. By striving to be the first in news, public service and morning entertainment, Unang Hirit remains the longest-running and top-rating morning show in the country,” she said.

Meanwhile, GMA’s sister channel, GMA News TV just launched its own morning show called Kape at Balita.

The daily news and talk program has been tackling news and current issues daily from 6 to 7:30 a.m. since Oct. 22.

“Bringing together the newest team of journalists -- multi-awarded broadcast journalist Susan Enriquez together with veteran radio commentator Joel Reyes Zobel, experienced senior reporter Michael Fajatin, and seasoned news anchor Mariz Umali -- that is set to deliver news in a unique style, the viewers are definitely in for a quick jump-start to their day,” GMA said in a statement.

Ms. Enriquez, who used to be part of Unang Hirit, joins Mr. Zobel in delivering the latest news and most pressing issues, giving viewers the pros and cons of issues at hand. Ms. Umali handles a segment on female-related topics ranging from health and diet to lifestyle, and even gadgets and trends.

Mr. Fajatin goes around the metro to know what people think about certain issues.

“We will try to reach out to the audience that want to know what they need to know in the morning, like how prices of commodities can affect households. Also, we will try to be heavy on traffic situations, and weather updates, especially when there is a development in terms of tropical cyclones and the like,” Ms. Enriquez told reporters shortly after the show launched.

STAYING POWER

Entertainment editor and university professor Nestor G. Cuartero said the morning show format in general has demonstrated a unique staying power, with American morning show Today airing for the past 60 years.

“Morning shows, which many people experience only as background noise as they rush in the morning, fill many important roles for the networks as they face declining viewership as more audiences are increasingly depending on the Internet for their news and entertainment fix,” Mr. Cuartero said in an interview.

He, however, warned about the growing reliance of these morning shows on getting big-name celebrities to host the programs or latching on to controversial topics just to generate ratings.

“Sometimes, these shows tend to be superficial. It is sometimes about what the hosts are wearing, or about the flashy sets,” Mr. Cuartero explained.

“Then, there is also the trap of getting controversial. Who gets hold of a celebrity first? Who comes up with an exclusive interview? It is morning drama before everybody’s eyes,” he added.

Sam Miguel
12-13-2012, 09:50 AM
Charo is ABS-CBN CEO

(The Philippine Star)

| Updated December 12, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - ABS-CBN Corporation announced the appointment of Ma. Rosario “Charo” Santos-Concio (photo) as its new Chief Executive Officer (CEO), effective Jan. 1, 2013. The new position is in addition to her role as the company’s president and chief content officer. Eugenio “Gabby” Lopez III continues to be the chairman of the board of ABS-CBN.

As ABS-CBN president, Santos-Concio conceptualized strategies and solutions for the company’s growth, helping it achieve profit margins, record-high advertising revenues and leadership in nationwide TV ratings.

It was also during Santos-Concio’s term that the network was named as one of the Top 15 highest scoring companies and the only publicly-listed media organization to garner a score for 90 percent or higher in the Institute of Corporate Directors’ 2008 Corporate Governance Scorecard.

Before being promoted to president in 2008, she served as ABS-CBN’s head for Channel 2 in 2006, EVP in 1998, SVP of TV production in 1996, VP of production operations in 1991, and director for programs in 1989. She joined ABS-CBN as consultant in 1987.

As a programming executive and producer, she is credited with ABS-CBN’s leadership in the TV and movie market with top-rating programs and high-grossing films under her helm, such as Esperanza, Pangako Sa ’Yo and May Bukas Pa, the sitcom Home Along Da Riles that revived the King of Comedy Dolphy’s career, and Star Cinema’s quality movies that broke box-office records.

Santos-Concio is a recipient of many awards for her work and contribution to the film and broadcast industry, including Film Academy of the Philippines’ Manuel de Leon Award, Hall of Fame Awards for her long-running drama anthology Maalaala Mo Kaya from the Catholic Mass Media Awards (CMMA), PMPC Star and Anak TV Awards, CEO Communication Excellence in Organizations (CEO EXCEL) Awards and CMO Awards’ Woman Super Achiever Award.

She began her career in media as a production assistant in John en Marsha, then moved on to become a drama actress and producer for BanCom Audiovision, Experimental Cinema of the Philippines, Vanguard Films, Regal Films and Vision Exponents.

Before becoming a media executive, Santos-Concio became famous for acting in critically-acclaimed films, most notably in Brutal, Kisapmata, Gumapang Ka sa Lusak and Mike de Leon’s Itim, for which she won the Best Actress award in the 1978 Asian Film Festival.

She graduated cum laude from St. Paul’s College in Manila with a degree in Communications Arts and completed the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School in 2007.

Sam Miguel
12-13-2012, 09:54 AM
SAG Awards 2013: TV nominations favor cable dramas, network comedies

Damian Lewis and Claire Danes of 'Homeland' make the drama cut, while 'Veep's' Julia Louis-Dreyfus is overlooked in comedy in the Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations.

By Meredith Blake, Los Angeles Times

December 12, 2012, 1:56 p.m.

Cable dramas and network comedies dominated the nominees for the 19th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards.

In the drama category, cable favorites such as "Homeland," "Mad Men," "Breaking Bad" and "Boardwalk Empire" picked up multiple nominations, while network series were all but overlooked.

On the comedy side, the situation was reversed: Only one cable series, "Nurse Jackie," made the cut in the ensemble category, with SAG favoring network sitcoms like "30 Rock," "Modern Family" and "The Big Bang Theory."

And naturally, there were some surprises and snubs.

In the drama category, SAG voters followed the trend firmly established at this year's Emmys by failing to nominate the ensemble of any broadcast network series. Last year, "The Good Wife" was among the nominees, but this year only its lead actress, Julianna Margulies, made the cut. The crowded cable landscape also meant that the cast of HBO's fantasy series "Game of Thrones" was overlooked, despite picking up a nomination in 2011.

After ignoring them last year, SAG voters nominated Damian Lewis and Claire Danes, the Emmy-winning leads of "Homeland," along with the rest of the show's ensemble.

Although the cast of "Mad Men" received a nod, as did its star, Jon Hamm, none of its female stars — Elisabeth Moss, Christina Hendricks, Jessica Paré or January Jones — were nominated. SAG voters also overlooked perennial nominees Kyra Sedgwick and Glenn Close, whose respective shows, "The Closer" and "Damages," wrapped up this year.

Just as they did last year, SAG voters favored the ensembles of well-established sitcoms "Modern Family," "The Big Bang Theory" and "30 Rock" in the comedy category, neglecting relative newcomers such as "New Girl" and cable favorites "Girls" and "Veep."

The one notable exception was a nod for the cast of Showtime's "Nurse Jackie": Although series star Edie Falco has now been nominated for a SAG Award for four consecutive years, Wednesday marked a first for the rest of the ensemble.

The comedy actress category was mostly a repeat of last year, with the notable exception of "Modern Family" star Julie Bowen, who won her second Emmy in September. She was edged out of contention by Amy Poehler of "Parks and Recreation." Despite winning an Emmy for her performance on "Veep," Julia Louis-Dreyfus was also neglected by SAG voters.

Among actors, the biggest surprise may have been that Michael C. Hall was overlooked for his work on "Dexter," while Jeff Daniels was honored for the critically scorned "The Newsroom." Louis C.K. edged out this year's Emmy winner, Jon Cryer of "Two and a Half Men," on the comedy side.

There were few surprises in the TV movie or miniseries categories, with SAG voters largely siding with the Emmy choices by nominating the stars of HBO's "Game Change" and "Hemingway & Gellhorn" and History's "Hatfields & McCoys."

The SAG Awards will be held Sunday, Jan. 27, at the Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center and broadcast on TNT and TBS at 5 p.m. (Pacific).

Sam Miguel
12-13-2012, 09:59 AM
SAG Awards: Snubs and surprises in the TV nominations

The National Board of Review said DiCaprio was the best supporting actor of 2012, but SAG voters seemed to disagree. DiCaprio's role as plantation owner Calvin Candie failed to earn him a nomination.

By Meredith Blake

December 12, 2012, 8:04 a.m.

The nominees for the 19th Screen Actors Guild Awards were announced Wednesday morning, and, as always, there were some surprises and perceived snubs.

In the drama category, SAG voters followed the trend firmly established at this year's Emmys by failing to nominate the ensemble of any broadcast network series. Last year, "The Good Wife" was among the nominees, but this year only its lead actress, Julianna Margulies, made the cut. The crowded cable landscape also meant that the cast of HBO's fantasy series "Game of Thrones" was overlooked despite picking up a nomination in 2011.

After snubbing them last year, SAG voters nominated Damian Lewis and Claire Danes, the Emmy-winning leads of "Homeland," along with the rest of the show's ensemble.

Although the cast of “Mad Men” received a nod, as did its star, Jon Hamm, none of its female stars -- Elisabeth Moss, Christina Hendricks, Jessica Pare or January Jones -- were nominated. SAG voters also overlooked perennial nominees Kyra Sedgwick and Glenn Close, whose respective shows, “The Closer” and “Damages,” wrapped up this year.

Just as they did last year, SAG voters favored the ensembles of well-established sitcoms “Modern Family,” “The Big Bang Theory” and “30 Rock” in the comedy category, neglecting relative newcomers such as “New Girl” and cable favorites “Girls” and “Veep.”

The one notable exception was a nod for the cast of Showtime’s “Nurse Jackie”: Although series star Edie Falco has now been nominated for a SAG Award for four consecutive years, Wednesday marked a first for the rest of the ensemble.

The comedy actress category was mostly a repeat of last year, with the notable exception of “Modern Family” star Julie Bowen, who won her second Emmy in September. She was edged out of contention by Amy Poehler of “Parks and Recreation.” Despite winning an Emmy for her performance on "Veep," Julia Louis-Dreyfus was also neglected by SAG voters.

Lest we forget the boys, the biggest surprise may have been that Michael C. Hall was overlooked for his work on “Dexter,” while Jeff Daniels was honored for the critically scorned “The Newsroom.” Louis C.K. also edged out this year’s Emmy winner, Jon Cryer of “Two and a Half Men,” on the comedy side.

There were few surprises in the TV movie or miniseries category, with SAG voters largely siding with the Emmy choices by nominating the stars of HBO’s “Game Change” and “Hemingway & Gellhorn” and History’s “Hatfields & McCoys.” Perhaps the only surprise was the recognition for Charlotte Rampling’s performance in the Sundance Channel spy drama “Restless.” It is the first SAG nomination for the British actress.

Sam Miguel
12-13-2012, 10:05 AM
'Pawn Stars' at center of legal tempest with Hollywood agents

By Scott Collins

December 12, 2012, 5:30 a.m.

How big are the stars of "Pawn Stars"? Big enough for Hollywood agents to fight over them.

Los Angeles talent agency Venture IAB filed a lawsuit Tuesday claiming that it guided the careers of Rick Harrison and other workers at the Las Vegas pawn shop featured in the History reality hit. But Harrison, his father ("The Old Man"), his son ("Big Hoss") and staffer Austin Russell ("Chumlee") were later poached by a bigger firm, United Talent Agency.

Venture claims that it lost millions of dollars in commission as a result after "Pawn Stars" became one of cable TV's biggest hits.

Venture sued A&E Television Networks, which owns History, claiming that A&E boss Nancy Dubuc induced the "Pawn Stars" cast to sign with UTA because Dubuc's friend Michael Camacho worked there. Camacho left UTA under a cloud earlier this year after the agency settled a separate conflict-of-interest case brought against him by another client. The Harrisons and Russell are not named as defendants.

A History rep could not be immediately reached for comment.

Coincidentally, the "Pawn Stars" suit landed on the same day that Dave Hester, featured on A&E's "Storage Wars," sued claiming he was fired after complaining that the show is staged.

Sam Miguel
12-13-2012, 10:07 AM
Television review: BBC's 'The Hour' is time well spent

Here's the scoop: The show within a show about a television news magazine in 1950s London improves its already stellar cast and grows in sophistication.

By Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times Television Critic

November 28, 2012, 6:00 a.m.

When the BBC's six-part period piece "The Hour" premiered last year, critics were divided — mostly by the Atlantic.

In Britain, reviews of the show, which revolves around the creation of an envelope-pushing television news magazine called "The Hour" in 1950s London, groused about the slow pace, the outlandish spy intrigue and its occasional preachiness. In the U.S., the reaction was more of a collective swoon; the mood, the costumes, the writing, the cast (and of course those accents!) were so intoxicating that even an increasingly absurd plot proved only a minor distraction.

Ironically, the second season begins as BBC News finds itself embroiled in a reporting scandal that would serve nicely as an A-plot for the show. "The Hour" holds, as most journalism-based theater does, that hard-working reporters are too often undone by keepers who cower behind a Potemkin village of "standards" and "policy" in an effort to avoid controversy — unless controversy pays the bills, in which case they manufacture it.

But "The Hour," like "Mad Men" to which it has been exhaustingly compared, is more concerned with its workplace as a window on an era and a nation than it is exposing the inner-workings of journalism.

As Season 2 opens, the show within the show is now solidly successful, having made its anchor, Hector Madden (Dominic West) enough of a star that he now wiles his time away in nightclubs, signing autographs and consorting with chorus girls, only to skid into the studio with seconds to spare.

Watching the clock and sighing in irritated resignation is producer Bel Rowley (Romola Garai), who puts up with Hector's antics for the same reason his wife, Marnie (Oona Chaplin), does — because he is talented and charming and because, as women in the 1950s, they may have increasing influence but they do not yet have real power. Randall Brown (Peter Capaldi), Bel's new boss, on the other hand, does have power.

Within minutes of the first episode, he not only gives Madden an ultimatum, he brings in a co-host/possible replacement, none other than Freddie Lyon (Ben Whishaw), the dogged young firebrand around whom last season revolved. After broadcasting an interview that questioned the British government, Freddie was fired, leaving Bel bereft of both a constant if unrequited suitor and her most brilliant news gatherer.

So this season's cast, which includes the deliciously oily government press secretary Angus (Julian Rhind-Tutt) and the wry, dry foreign news editor Lix (Anna Chancellor), is not just as terrific as it was last season, it's better.

Capaldi's Brown may seem buttoned-down and OCD finicky, but he's here to turn the heat up, not down. He not only questions "The Hour's" rather smug self-confidence, he clearly has a past with Lix, which means we may finally get to see more of Chancellor, who already steals every scene she's in by simply squinting through the inevitable plume of cigarette smoke.

More important, despite Whishaw's brilliant portrayal of Q in "Skyfall," this season is less James Bond, more "The Wire," with both the news and personal stories focusing on tensions of an increasingly multicultural city and a rise in gangland-style crime.

The men and women of "The Hour" are dealing with shifting social strata, though creator Abi Morgan seems content to leave Britain's class issues to "Downton Abbey," showcasing instead the effects of immigration and the women's movement. Garai's Bel remains the luminous core of the story, sacrificing, as such women inevitably do, love for work, though this popular narrative crutch seems more believable than usual here, considering the period and the profession.

After getting sacked, Freddie apparently read a lot of Kerouac and lived in Paris, so he returns with a wider vision and a new resolve. Indeed this season has an air of maturity that owes more to character than fedoras, pencil skirts and the still seductive snick of monogrammed lighters.

Bel and her staff are no longer young Turks shaking up the fusty old BBC; now they are, for better or worse, part of the mainstream news media, forced to question their own motivations as well as those of the Establishment. In the first two episodes anyway, this makes for a more sophisticated storytelling, a drama of adults who must take responsibility for decisions of the mind as well as the heart.

Sam Miguel
12-13-2012, 10:09 AM
Review: Big Cat Week on National Geographic Wild spots a leopard

Boone Smith heads to Afghanistan to search for the elusive snow leopard in a Big Cat Week opener on Nat Geo Wild that's both illuminating and bracing.

By Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times Television Critic

December 8, 2012, 6:00 a.m.

For the premiere episode of its third annual Big Cat Week, National Geographic Wild has upped the stakes.

Having already explored man-eating lions and most of their lethally gorgeous kindred, this Big Cat Week opens Sunday night in Kabul where big cat tracker and National Geo fave Boone Smith and his team stops before entering the mountains in search of the elusive snow leopard.

Hoping to find a part for their busted radio transmitter, they wander the streets of the Afghanistan capital like "Homeland" extras, while the requisite urgent voiceover explains that the Taliban is currently on a killing spree and that Smith and his team would do well to keep a low profile.

Rather difficult to do for the movie-star handsome Smith (seriously, are big cat trackers drawn from the same gene pool as paramedics and firefighters?) and, of course, his camera crew. But no matter, the colorful marketplace gives the piece the regional flavor on which National Geographic has built its reputation and if the anxiety-provoking soundtrack does force one to wonder if Mandy Patinkin's Saul will be appearing from a shadowy doorway with the necessary hardware, no doubt a visit to Afghanistan contains a certain amount of danger even for environmentalists. (Memo to CIA: When next you have to rescue hostages from a foreign city à la "Argo," send in the National Geo big cat team.)

Joining Smith in the field is John Goodrich, another good-looking if a bit more laid-back conservation scientist as well as local tracker Hussain Ali who, mercifully, looks like a normal person. Up we go into the mountains, learning how global warming is decreasing the snow pack that, though a boon to native herders, is decreasing the leopard's natural habitat.

This sort of information is the stated raison d'etre for Big Cat Week, which is part of the Big Cats Initiative's attempt to increase awareness about dwindling and endangered species. Snow leopards, found only in the mountains of Central Asia where they are hunted by herders and poachers seeking their fur and spectacular tails, are on the endangered list. (Interesting fact: They cannot roar.) And indeed, while in Kabul, Smith finds it easier to procure an illegal snow leopard pelt than a radio part.

Up we go into the mountains, where we learn about the tracking patterns of the leopards and watch the experts train local conservationists on how to set a snare and use a tranquilizer gun. The team hopes to put tracking collars on several leopards to learn more about the population.

It is laborious and often boring work. An intrusive voice tries too hard to keep the mood tense by asking things like "will the team get the traps set in time?," which is pretty annoying since it is safe to assume that they will.

And indeed, they do, leading to 10 or 15 truly exciting minutes in which we see both the un-scripted excitement of the team (the local conservationist is so excited, Smith has to calm him down so he doesn't upset the leopard) and the exquisite leopard himself. During those dead-of-night moments, the tension is quite real.

Watching the animal struggle while the guys with the tranqs hurry up the trail and take aim, the viewer joins the team in admiring the beauty of the leopard and fearing for its well-being, both before it is sedated and after, when the drug leaves the animal groggy and in real danger of slipping from its steep and unstable mountainside.

It's a lot of work for a few moments of splendor, but that's how it goes when you're hunting the big cats.

Sam Miguel
12-13-2012, 10:10 AM
Fans join in wife-bashing on 'Walking Dead,' other AMC series

On 'The Walking Dead,' 'Mad Men' and 'Breaking Bad,' unpopular first wives are treated cruelly, and followers of the shows apparently enjoy watching the women suffer while their antihero partners commit worse behavior.

By Meredith Blake, Los Angeles Times

December 6, 2012, 7:00 a.m.

Even by the gruesome standards of AMC's zombie megahit "The Walking Dead," the death of Lori Grimes, the heavily pregnant wife of protagonist Rick Grimes, was unusually brutal: a crude prison-floor C-section followed by a bullet to the head dispatched by her young son, Carl.

Yet many viewers greeted the development not with despair or horror but with a sadistic kind of glee, flocking to Twitter, Facebook and online comment threads to post heartwarming eulogies like this one: "Lori left The Walking Dead the same way she came in. With her pants off."

The incongruous reaction to Lori's demise in the Nov. 4 episode fits in with a broader trend at AMC, where unpopular first wives have become a network hallmark in the same way incest plot lines and gratuitous female nudity have at HBO. In addition to Lori, there's Betty, the long-suffering spouse (and now ex) of "Mad Men's" Don Draper, and Skyler, currently trapped in what may be the most miserable marriage in television history to Walter White, the high school chemistry teacher turned crystal meth kingpin at the center of "Breaking Bad."

Lori's bloody end capped off a particularly rough year for AMC's first wives club. When the once-svelte Betty showed up at the beginning of "Mad Men's" fifth season carrying 50 or so pounds of extra weight, "Fat Betty" became an instant meme. Similarly, when Skyler plunged into her pool in a desperate cry for help this summer on "Breaking Bad," her detractors wondered aloud why she didn't just drown herself already.

Whether it's a problem built into the antihero drama, a reaction to haphazard character development, or just plain old-fashioned sexism, wife-bashing is for many viewers an integral part of the AMC experience. Even professional TV-watchers have joined in the hate: In her recap of Lori's farewell episode, Vulture writer Starlee Kine declared, "Take that, Fat Betty; that is how you 'correct' an unlikable character."

All three women face difficulties that by any reasonable measure ought to elicit our sympathy, from borderline psychopathic spouses to the ever-present threat of flesh-eating zombies. Yet Lori, Betty and Skyler have all committed minor sins that make them wholly unsympathetic — or at least "annoying" — to certain viewers: They've each slept with men other than their husbands, made parenting mistakes, and, perhaps worst of all, gotten in the way of their partner's bad behavior.

"There's a narrative challenge to doing stories about male criminals or men who have an exciting violence to them: It's how to handle the women in their lives," explains Emily Nussbaum, TV critic for the New Yorker. "You're rooting for the antiheroes in this really complicated, libidinal, charge-up, cathartic, taboo way."

Shows like "Breaking Bad" encourage viewers to relate to men who do truly unspeakable things (poisoning children) while judging their wives for much smaller transgressions (retaliatory affairs). If they stand up to the men in their lives, they're irritating obstacles; if they don't, they're hypocritical colluders. See also: Soprano, Carmela.

"These women are called upon to provide the drama, to serve as roadblocks that the male protagonist has to get around," says Anna Holmes, founder of the feminist website Jezebel.com.

And because television is still written predominantly by men, about men, even the most forward-thinking writers will resort to a certain shorthand when it comes to female characters, says Alyssa Rosenberg, a TV columnist at Slate and the Atlantic. "Skyler nags, Betty is cold and personality-less. Lori is lame and stupid enough to get pregnant during an apocalypse."

Skyler elicits what may be the most undeserved antipathy from viewers. To her critics, she is a harridan and hypocrite who keeps Walt from fully unleashing his inner badass — never mind that by now he makes Pablo Escobar look like a pussycat. "I can't root for Skyler. She was an emasculating presence, constantly treating Walt like a child to be scolded or punished," wrote a typical commenter at the A.V. Club. "She's a control freak."

Condemning a character like Skyler is a convenient way for viewers to have their antiheroic cake and eat it too, says Rosenberg.

"People want to judge somebody but they don't want to look straight at what these antiheroes have become. Blaming the wives becomes a way to deflect that: They're still exercising moral judgment, but they don't have to get away from the fantasy that it's really awesome for Walt to be [his evil alter ego] Heisenberg when actually Walt is a disgusting human being."

The phenomenon frightens and perplexes series creator Vince Gilligan. "Skyler compared to Walt is Mother Teresa. She's the hero of that duo, yet so many viewers are saying, Man, I wish she could get bumped off, killed off or otherwise get out of his way so he can really break bad," he told The Times in an interview earlier this year. "I want as many people as I can to watch the show, but wow, I hope I'm not living next door to any of them."

On "Mad Men," the disconnect between writer and audience is less clear. In interviews, series creator Matthew Weiner has expressed a measure of sympathy for the emotionally stunted housewife played by January Jones, describing her as a "wasted resource" and a tragic product of her time. But in practice, Weiner seems less charitable to Betty, rarely portraying her in a flattering (or even sympathetic) light. This unforgiving attitude stands out all the more given how sensitive "Mad Men" is to the struggles of its other female characters, Joan Harris and Peggy Olson.

As a result, there was something almost cruel about the "Fat Betty" spectacle. "They've designed Betty as a character you're supposed to react against. Even if you wanted to be sympathetic, it triggered in you as a viewer this kind of 'Ha-ha!' Nelson reaction," says Nussbaum, referring to the bully from "The Simpsons."

Like Skyler and Betty, Lori is guilty of sleeping with a man other than her husband, although her dalliance with Shane hardly qualifies as infidelity: At the time it occurred, she believed Rick was dead. Nevertheless, it was enough for some fans to label her a "whore" and to interpret her death during childbirth as an act of divine justice.

Ultimately the biggest problem for the wives of AMC may also be the most intractable: "Women are socialized to identify with both male and female protagonists, but I don't think men are socialized to identify with female protagonists. When they are asked to do so, they rebel," argues Holmes.

While this may be true, women are among the most vocal AMC wife-bashers out there, especially when it comes to poor old Betty. And with the rise of troubled female leads like Carrie Mathison on "Homeland" or Hannah Horvath on "Girls," the language of television is gradually beginning to change, Nussbaum says.

"It doesn't have to be this kind of toggle switch between somebody who's empowering and somebody who's annoying. Once you open up the floodgates to bad female behavior, it's good for everyone," she adds.

Sam Miguel
12-13-2012, 10:12 AM
Has FX's 'Sons of Anarchy' become TV's most violent show?

December 5, 2012, 2:26 p.m.

The fifth season finale of FX's outlaw motorcycle gang drama "Sons of Anarchy", which aired Tuesday night, scored one of its biggest audiences, cementing its status as one of TV's most elite and popular dramas.

The episode of the series, which is the cable network's top-rated show, drew 4.67 million viewers -- its highest rated finale ever and the third-most watched episode ever.

While longtime fans expressed enthusiasm over the numerous twists, turns and betrayals in the episode, some also noted that the level of graphic, horrific violence reached new heights this season, rivaling Martin Scorsese movies or other critically acclaimed series such as "Breaking Bad" and "Boardwalk Empire".

Rarely an episode passed without at least one person getting shot in the head. In many episodes, several characters met bloody ends.

Among the more disturbing incidents:

--The grown daughter of "Sons" sergeant-at-arms "Tig" was kidnapped, put in a large container and set on fire in an act of revenge. "Tig" watched helplessly as she was burned alive, screaming for help.

--"Opie," the most emotionally vulnerable member of the "Sons," was killed by a prison guard who bludgeoned him in the head with a lead pipe.

--Imprisoned "Sons" member "Otto" brutally stabbed a female nurse in the neck with a crucifux given to him by Tara, the surgeon wife of club leader Jackson "Jax" Teller, in an act of kindness.

--In the season finale, Otto, in an interrogation room in the prison, slammed his head down on a table, his teeth slicing into and severing his outstretched tongue. He spit out the bloody tongue.

To be sure, "The Walking Dead" is more relentlessly violent than "Sons of Anarchy. But that show is set in a post-apocalypic world and much of the gory carnage is linked to the battle with flesh-eating zombies. "Sons of Anarchy" is is set in a more realitistic violent world filled with a range of criminals.

Kurt Sutter, the creator of "Sons of Anarchy" who last year expressed some dismay at the amount of savage violence on shows such as "Boardwalk Empire," acknowledged that the violence on his show was more graphic this season.

But he said the escalation was necessary to show the effect that all the bloodshed and elevated dangers had on the various characters -- particularly "Jax", who at the end of last season took over leadership of the "Sons."

"We really wanted to turn the heat up on Jax and show the point of view of a very dangerous existence," Sutter said. "For me it was about shining a light on the very dangerous nature of the world. Nothing was done to shock, but we turned up the level of violence to expose him to all those things that I knew would influence his ability to make a decision."

FX President John Landgraf was supportive of the direction of the show and its violent elements, Sutter said. "He understood those decisions creatively, but we wanted to make sure it was handled in a way where we could tell the story without being grotesque. This isn't 'The Walking Dead.' That world is fantasy. And I'm a big believer in the belief that showing less is much more horrifying."

Sutter was intimately involved with the season's most stomach-churning scenes -- he plays Otto, the immate who stabs the prison guard and later bites off his tongue.

"I had pitched to my staff early in the planning of the season that I wanted to find a way to bite Otto's tongue off" as a demonstration not only of defiance, but of how troubled the character is.

"It was a way of writing myself out of having to learn more dialogue," he quipped. "Now Otto can only communicate by grunting and writing on paper."

Sam Miguel
12-13-2012, 10:39 AM
‘Arrow’: John Barrowman talks archery, ‘Doctor Who’ anniversary

Dec. 12, 2012 | 12:33 p.m.

John Barrowman plays Malcolm Merlyn in “Arrow”

Fans of “Doctor Who” and “Torchwood” know actor John Barrowman as the ever-cheery Capt. Jack Harkness. But for his latest role, as Malcolm Merlyn on the hit CW series “Arrow,” Barrowman is putting his famous smile to more sinister use, playing the wealthy head of the mysterious Tempest group. Of course, in “Green Arrow” comic book mythology, Malcolm Merlyn becomes archvillain Merlyn, a whiz with the bow and arrow himself. Barrowman unequivocally declined to reveal whether his character will one day evolve into that famous foe, but in an interview with Hero Complex, he did discuss what’s in store for Wednesday night’s midseason finale of the show, his own archery skills and how he might commemorate the upcoming 50th anniversary of “Doctor Who.”

HC: What can we expect from “Arrow’s” midseason finale?

JB: You can expect a lot of twists and a lot of turns that you’re not expecting from the show itself and also from Malcolm Merlyn. I have to be vague, because we’re not allowed to tell you what’s going on, but the fact is that also as a fan of the show, I wouldn’t want to be told. There will be jaw-dropping moments.

HC: Were you familiar with Green Arrow before joining this series?

JB: I was not a buyer of those comic books but I know the DC world. This is going to sound really nerdy, but I have a DC encyclopedia at my bedside so when I’m watching other films with DC characters, I can reference them.What was discussed with me when they asked if I wanted the role — which I have to say, when I heard the passion everybody had about it and [executive producer] Andrew [Kreisberg] spoke to me — it almost seemed like they were apologizing to me for asking me to do what they called a small role. And I turned around and said, “Guys, I am thrilled that you’re on the phone asking me this. Because I’m a fan of this world. And the fact is that the passion in your voice reminds me of the day I was asked to play Capt. Jack in ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Torchwood.’ If you have a passion behind it, I know it’s going to be good.” As soon as they told me about it, I went and looked at all the material on the Green Arrow, and … there’s a vagueness about it. But I think that’s good for us, because it allows us a little bit of artistic license to take a left turn when we need to.

HC: Have you been practicing your archery skills at all?

JB: I have no idea what you’re trying to lead into … I did archery when I was in high school. In our gym class we had two weeks of archery and I remember taking the bow and arrow and firing it up and across the street into a car parking lot. It was Bill Jacobs Chevrolet. And the next class after the archery class we heard over the speaker, “Mr. Barrowman, John Barrowman, please come to the principal’s office, please. The arrow you fired went through a convertible.” So I have had experience with archery.

HC: “Arrow” has done surprisingly well for the CW. What was your reaction when you got word that the show had been picked up for a full season?

JB: What I can say that’s different in American television … in Britain, they wouldn’t cancel something after a couple of episodes. In the States they would. They would just decide it’s not working, take it off and put something else in on the fall schedule. It’s about turnaround and getting those audience figures. In the UK, they’ll let a show build. One thing I think is great about the CW is that we came in gangbusters for them and as per normal, the ratings taper off a little bit, but still doing well and all of a sudden there’s another gangbuster moment and the ratings go up again. The CW has stuck by it. Once I found out the numbers were good, I immediately texted Stephen [Amell] to say congratulations and job well done. Stephen was so excited, that he tweeted it before it was even announced. That gives you an idea of the feeling we have as the actors when it happens, we are happy about it and ecstatic that our story gets to be told.

HC: And now there’s an opportunity to see your character take on a more prominent role on the series.

JB: I’d love to be a regular on the show just to continue the role. I love playing him and I want to explore his world even more.

HC: You didn’t have a lot of screen time early on. How do you create a fully realized character in a very small scene?

JB: I’m not someone who says, “Ohhhh, I have to find my motivation! Blah blah blah.” You know what? Say your lines and put some personality into it. Tell a story. The main thing we’re there to do is tell a story. I believe in television the main thing you need to do is play part of your personality. You’re not really playing a character. In everything I do, I find some of myself, or a lot of myself and put it into the role. With Malcolm, I’ve tried to give him a little bit of a sense of humor. I’ve tried to make him fun. I’ve tried to make him quirky and flirtatious in a way that’s not overt. I don’t want to get too heavy about it, but I put a lot of my own personality into it.

HC: Any plans to have Capt. Jack return for “Doctor Who’s” 50th anniversary?

JB: If there is, I haven’t been asked. I would love to if they ask me and I know that Andrew has already said to me if they want me in the 50th anniversary, he will give me the time off from “Arrow” to do it. But it’s not up to me. The fans keep asking me online and on Twitter. If I had an answer I would tell you, but it’s not up to me. Personally, as a fan of the show, I would be disappointed if Capt. Jack was not involved.

– Patrick Kevin Day

Sam Miguel
12-13-2012, 10:49 AM
Question of the SAG Awards noms — ‘American Horror Story’ isn’t a miniseries anymore?

By Lisa de Moraes

The biggest surprise at Wednesday’s unveiling of the Screen Actors Guild Awards nominees?

No question: “American Horror Story’s” Jessica Lange nomination in the derby for best performance by a female actor in a drama series.

It’s no surprise Lange got nominated for her turn as “AHS’s” sadistic Sister Judge; scenery chewing on that scale is highly prized in Hollywood.

What’s surprising is that she’s nominated in a drama-series category. That’s because the show’s creators, and FX network, have been drilling it into our heads that “American Horror Story” is not a drama series — it’s a miniseries.

At least, it is since the producers and network decided so, around Emmy nominations time last summer; before that, the show competed as a drama series at the most recent SAG Awards, and at last January’s Golden Globe Awards. (New Golden Globe nominees will be announced Thursday morning — keep an eye out in re whether Lange gets a nom as a drama series actress or a miniseries actress).

Switching categories in the middle of trophy-show season resulted in Lange winning an Emmy for best supporting actress in a miniseries — “AHS’s” only glam-category Emmy win last September.

Ever since, the producers and FX have continued to refer to “AHS” as a miniseries.

Apparently they did not impress SAG.

“They tried to make a switch [to miniseries competitions] and we said ‘we consider it a drama series’,” SAG Awards producer Kathy Connell told the TV Column when asked about Lange’s category.

“They submitted in drama series [competition] last year,” Connell continued. “We weren’t going to turn around and move them to miniseries.” She noted Lange won the SAG Award last year for best performance by a female actor (CQ) in a drama series. SAG said it’s delighted Lange’s nominated there again.

That excitement aside, Showtime’s “Homeland,” ignored by SAG last year, got nods for leads Claire Danes and Damian Lewis, plus a nom for best drama series ensemble. Those three noms put “Homeland” in company with PBS’s “Downton Abbey,” HBO’s “Game Change” and “Boardwalk Empire,” AMC’s “Breaking Bad,” and NBC’s “30 Rock.”

But ABC’s comedy “Modern Family” led the TV field with four nominations, including actors Ty Burrell, Eric Stonestreet and Sofia Vergara, as well as an ensemble comedy nomination.

HBO scored the most nominations of any network with 10, including acting nods to Julianne Moore, Ed Harris and Woody Harrelson for 2008 presidential election movie/John McCain-Sarah Palin chronicle “Game Change,” which only seems like it aired three year ago but actually aired in 2012 which is the period of eligibility for the coming SAG Awards.

Also in HBO’s tally: Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen were each nominated for the network’s “Hemingway & Gellhorn” movie, which received less-than-favorable reviews from many critics. Steve Buscemi scored another nom for his role as a mobster on “Boardwalk Empire,” and Aaron Sorkin’s “The Newsroom” snuck in just one nod, for star Jeff Daniels.

“Downton Abbey’s” Maggie Smith received the most SAG nominations Wednesday – 4. SAG singled her out for her performances in both “Downton” and the feature film “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”; she’s also listed in “Downton” and “Marigold’s” ensemble-cast nominations.

Right behind Smith was Bryan Cranston with three nods, including actor and ensemble noms for “Breaking Bad,” and one as a member of the cast of feature film “Argo.”

The SAG Awards air on TBS and TNT on Sunday, Jan. 27. Here’s a complete list of TV nominees (and see the the movie nominations here.)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series

Alec Baldwin “30 Rock” (NBC)

Ty Burrell “Modern Family” (ABC)

Louis C.K. “Louie” (FX)

Jim Parsons “The Big Bang Theory” (CBS)

Eric Stonestreet “Modern Family” (ABC)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series

Edie Falco “Nurse Jackie” (Showtime)

Tina Fey “30 Rock” (NBC)

Amy Poehler “Parks and Recreation” (NBC)

Sofia Vergara “Modern Family” (ABC)

Betty White “Hot in Cleveland” (TV Land)

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series

“30 Rock” (NBC)

“The Big Bang Theory” (CBS)

“Glee” (Fox)

“Modern Family” (ABC)

“Nurse Jackie” (Showtime)

“The Office” (NBC)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series

Claire Danes “Homeland” (Showtime)

Michelle Dockery “Downton Abbey” (PBS)

Jessica Lange “American Horror Story: Asylum” (FX)

Julianna Margulies “The Good Wife” (CBS)

Maggie Smith “Downton Abbey” (PBS)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series

Steve Buscemi “Boardwalk Empire” (HBO)

Bryan Cranston “Breaking Bad” (AMC)

Jeff Daniels “The Newsroom” (HBO)

Jon Hamm “Mad Men” (AMC)

Damian Lewis “Homeland” (Showtime)

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series

“Boardwalk Empire” (HBO)

“Breaking Bad” (AMC)

“Downton Abbey” (PBS)

“Homeland” (Showtime)

“Mad Men” (AMC)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries

Kevin Costner “Hatfields & McCoys” (History)

Woody Harrelson “Game Change” (HBO)

Ed Harris “Game Change” (HBO)

Clive Owen “Hemingway & Gellhorn” (HBO)

Bill Paxton “Hatfields & McCoys” (History)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries

Nicole Kidman “Hemingway & Gellhorn” (HBO)

Julianne Moore “Game Change” (HBO)

Charlotte Rampling “Restless” (Sundance Channel)

Sigourney Weaver “Political Animals” (USA)

Alfre Woodard “Steel Magnolias” (Lifetime)

Sam Miguel
12-13-2012, 10:51 AM
Former ‘Storage Wars’ star sues A&E, says reality show is fake

By Lisa de Moraes

Last month, when Radar reported that A&E’s grumpy “Storage Wars” bidder David Hester was not being asked back for Season 4 — because producers got wind of fakery allegations and decided Hester was at the root of them — it was widely speculated in TV circles that this would wind up in court.

It has wound up in court.

Hester’s camp claims that its client was axed when he complained to producers about alleged rigging, according to the suit, which was given to the TV industry publication of record, TMZ.

“A&E has committed a fraud on the public and its television audience in violation of the Communications Act of 1934, which makes it illegal for broadcasters to rig a contest of intellectual skill with the intent to deceive the viewing public,” Hester’s suit claims.

“A&E regularly plants valuable items or memorabilia,” it continues. In the lawsuit, Hester also claims that the producer has gone “so far as to stage entire storage units.”

Among Hester’s claims: A BMW was buried under a pile of trash in one locker; old newspapers announcing the death of Elvis Presley were planted in another.

“When [Hester] complained to producers that A&E’s fraudulent conduct of salting and staging the storage lockers was possibly illegal, he was fired from the series,” the suit alleged.

Hester’s wrongful-termination suit was filed in Superior Court in Los Angeles.

He also claims that the show gave less-pretty regulars money for plastic surgery to make them more appealing (which hardly seems worth mentioning).

“We do not comment on pending litigation,” a rep for A&E told The TV Column on Tuesday.

Sam Miguel
12-13-2012, 01:13 PM
The Widow Was a Spy .

By DOROTHY RABINOWITZ

Sundance Channel

"Restless" comes on the heels of more than a few films about hidden wartime pasts, most of them about Nazis. Not so in this richly textured World War II spy-thriller based on a novel by William Boyd. Its heroine Sally Gilmartin (Charlotte Rampling) is, like all her spy colleagues, devoted to the Allied cause, as the film makes amply clear from the start. It doesn't take much longer to recognize that the story she has to tell is a deeply sinister one. To know that, it's only necessary to look at Sally in the opening scenes, set in the mid-1970s, as she reveals her past to her astounded adult daughter, Ruth (Michelle Dockery). It's hard to think of another actress with as formidable a gift as Ms. Rampling's for exuding a sense of menace. A power all the more potent in characters like Sally—that is, proud, assertive women, self-possessed and, in one way or another, haunted.

It's a testament to the crackling intelligence of the script (written by Mr. Boyd) that the nature of that menace hangs elusively in the air until the end. Still, the real heart of this two-part series lies in the dazzling action scenes involving a British secret-service unit, told in flashback and set in splendidly evocative wartime (and prewartime) backgrounds—Paris, London, Washington, and there's a brief stop at 33rd Street and Third in New York. That's not to mention a long solo drive down a frightfully isolated road in New Mexico, past a prominent roadside sign announcing the way to Alamogordo—a name with a certain ring to it, Alamogordo having been the site of the first atomic-bomb test.

The driver of that car had been Sally's younger self, British agent Eva Delectorskaya, Sally's real name. As her daughter, and we, learn at the outset, the person known as Sally Gilmartin had been born of Russian parents, had been a member of a British secret-service unit during the war and an espionage agent. One taught to use her wits, go behind enemy lines, and find her way back alone in strange terrain, miles from safety—the section on the spy training school and its training exercises is itself worth tuning in for, if only for the blood chilling scenery—and to dispense with the enemy physically when necessary. Agent Eva's wartime history, revealed in those flashbacks (Hayley Atwell plays the young Eva), includes some spectacular instances in which she's shown doing just that.

Thirty years after the war, she's preparing to use her wits again, to go behind enemy lines once more, so to speak, and even to take physical action against a foe. She's in danger from certain enemies over matters related to her wartime work, people determined to kill her, whose identities she will not disclose till the very end. Fearful—and much to her daughter's dismay—this widow of a respected academic visits the local arms dealer to buy protection. She knows guns well, as she shows during that visit—an encounter eloquent in its detail, in her expertise on weaponry and bullets on casual display in her discussion with the gun dealer. A scene like numerous others in the show whose small moments deliver a large quotient of the heft and color in "Restless."

When it comes to color, and for that matter heft, none of the characters, Ms. Rampling's Sally aside, is the equal of Lucas Romer. He's played by Rufus Sewell, who brings majestic verve to the role of the dashing spymaster and unrelenting disciplinarian, and also a boss who becomes something more than a friend to young Eva—one of the few revelations allowable about this drama perilously awash in potential spoilers. There's not much, to be sure, likely to spoil the pleasures of this work, one of whose charms is a refreshingly unhurried air even as it goes ripping sharply along, suspenseful to the end.

Sam Miguel
12-13-2012, 01:21 PM
Something’s ‘Amish’

Discovery’s new reality show deserves to be shunned

By Mark A. Perigard

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 - Updated 2 days ago

Boston Herald TV Critic

Mark Perigard is the TV critic for the Boston Herald.

Somebody has been binging on “Sopranos” reruns.

Don’t accuse the stars of “Amish Mafia.”

Most of them don’t have electricity and probably haven’t ever watched a TV, much less the award-winning HBO mob drama.

Blame the Discovery Channel and the producers of this overheated “reality” show (getting a sneak peek tonight at 10:30 and moving into its regular Wednesday 9 p.m. time slot tomorrow).

The title is a grabber, but how authentic is this show?

Let’s jump right to the scrawl at the closing credits: “Re-creations are based on eye-witness accounts, testimonials and the legend of the Amish Mafia.”

So there’s still hope then that the Loch Ness Monster might get its own reality show, I suppose.

Judging from the premiere, most of the hour seems staged. So many faces are blurred out, those coming in late to the hour are going to think their TVs are on the fritz. (Much of the show is subtitled, because the stars are more comfortable speaking Dutch.)

Filmed in Lancaster County, Pa., where a large community of Amish reside, the show follows a group of young men who provide a sort of rough justice for their community, deliberately isolated from the rest of the “English world.”

The leader, “Lebanon Levi,” denies the existence of a mafia.

“I’m just a guy who’s willing to do things for people,” he says amiably.

The editing would have you believe he’s the Amish Tony Soprano, though he looks more like his flunky, Bobby Baccalieri.

Levi collects assessments on property, gives cash to those unable to work and keeps his neighbors in line.

“Amish Safety Net” doesn’t have much of a ring to it, does it?

He and his boys, despite their gruff posturing, behave more like the Busybody Police.

In vignettes tonight, they stake out a married woman who might be receiving a gentleman caller and confront a prominent figure who has been visiting a prostitute.

In this world, Esther might be Levi’s Carmela. She’s a member of the Old Order Amish, so conservative in lifestyle that she relies on propane lights and must be careful about the color of her window blinds lest they offend the community.

She uses Levi’s attraction to her benefit, to advance her brother John, who might be the Christopher of the group — the henchman with ambitions that outstrip his intelligence.

Jolin is Levi’s enforcer. As the sole Mennonite in the group, he can drive — and carry a firearm, which he uses to shoot out the back of a car that allegedly crashed into a horse-and-buggy.

The editing suggests Levi blackmails an elder over his transgressions to take over his businesses. That’s something that would make Tony Soprano proud.

How much of this is true?

Impossible to know. Trust none of it.

There’s more truth in 10 minutes of Animal Planet’s “Finding Bigfoot.”

Sam Miguel
12-13-2012, 01:41 PM
Mankind The Story of All of Us

Yes, a Big Topic. Want to Fight About It?

By NEIL GENZLINGER

Published: November 12, 2012

If you run a documentary-oriented television channel, apparently you are periodically overcome with an irresistible urge to go for the everything program: a program, usually a mini-series, that tries to capture the totality of an impossibly big subject. The BBC and the Discovery Channel had the acclaimed “Planet Earth,” followed a few years later by “Life.” The National Geographic Channel has had projects like the sumptuous “Great Migrations.”

In 2010 History checked in with the 12-hour “America: The Story of Us,” and on Tuesday night it applies the formulas used in that mini-series to the even more all-encompassing “Mankind: The Story of All of Us.” That preposterously grandiose title really needed to be strung out a bit to give an accurate picture of the program. Something like, “Mankind: The Story of All of Us, Delivered Somewhat Superficially by People You Know and Love, Because We Don’t Want to Bore You.”

The series, at least judging from the first two hours, feels as if its broadcast incarnation is a secondary concern. What it is really aiming for is the high school market. It’s a quick survey of our species’ high points — walking upright, cultivating seeds, learning more efficient ways to kill one another — delivered in student-friendly fashion with a stay-awake soundtrack and a narrator (Josh Brolin) who intones the important points in imposing, write-this-down fashion.

Nothing wrong with that. As a teaching tool, the series has much to recommend it, especially the way it emphasizes how one historical development influences another, a cause and effect often missed in the dry dates-and-places method of some classrooms.

The mastering of agriculture led to a sense of territory that led to wars. Domestication of livestock led to living in proximity to animals, which led to more diseases.

That last point is made by Dr. Mehmet Oz, the television personality, one of many well-known faces who turn up here. As did the “America” series, this gallop through history relies only partly on academic talking heads. (Henry Louis Gates Jr., the Harvard scholar, is one.) It also draws on a sort of pop-culture cast to underscore important developments — the newscaster Brian Williams, for instance, and the chef Anthony Bourdain.

This isn’t as gimmicky as it sounds. The observations from these folks are just as trenchant as those from the college professors, and they help make the series feel less like a lecture.

It falls not to a professional historian, but to Richard Machowicz, a former member of the Navy SEALs and a television personality, to summarize how iron weaponry, military strategy and budding democracy came together in ancient Athens, as its men voted not to submit to the invading army of the Persian Empire.

“The ability to express yourself freely is so uniquely tied to the ability to defend yourself freely,” Mr. Machowicz says. “The Athenians appreciate and value freedom, their ability to be self-expressed, their ability to have a say in their government. And they’re willing to fight for that.”

The series, though, seems too eager to focus on warfare, perhaps because that allows for lots of imagery of men swinging swords and taking an arrow to the heart. It’s true, as the series notes, that war has often driven technological innovation. But as this series goes along, the test of its ambition will be whether it lets other strands of history that are harder to illustrate — religious thought, scientific inquiry — have an equal place.

Sam Miguel
12-13-2012, 01:46 PM
The Year's Best Television Episode

The story behind "Blackwater," Game of Thrones's brutal season two masterpiece

By Brian Raftery

Two decades ago, when the author and screenwriter George R. R. Martin began work on A Song of Ice and Fire—the best-selling fantasy series that would become the HBO hit Game of Thrones—he didn't think anyone in Hollywood would be crazy enough to adapt it. "The reaction to many of my television scripts had been, 'George, this is great, but it would take five times our budget. You have to cut it down,' says Martin, who spent the '80s writing for TV shows like Beauty and the Beast. "A Song of Ice and Fire was a reaction to that. I said, 'I'm going write something as big as my imagination, and not worry about budget.'."

Case in point: The Battle of the Blackwater, a six-chapter-long land-and-sea war in book two, A Clash of Kings, in which disparate fiefdoms converge on King's Landing, the capital of Martin's imaginary world. With its teeming warships and castle-wall clashes, the battle is the sort of sprawling epic that would seem to be impossible to capture on screen. But Game of Thrones co-creators Dan Weiss and David Benioff were determined to make it all work in 55 minutes. "Everyone knew this was the episode that was going to make or break the season," says Benioff.

The resulting episode, titled "Blackwater," with a script by Martin himself, was the year's most glorious hour of TV. But getting it right required a war-room mentality all its own. Here's the story of how Martin, Benioff, and Weiss did it. Spoilers abound, obviously, but come on: At this point, how are you not watching this show?


···

George R.R. Martin (author, screenwriter): Dave and Dan gave me the hardest episode of the season. I think it was their subtle revenge for creating such a difficult-to-produce show. If you did everything as it was in the book, you'd have a budget approaching one of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movies. There's a sea battle, a land battle, a bridge of ships that the army pours across, a chain that Tyrion builds to keep the boats on the river, many sequences on horseback...all of this would be gigantically expensive. But my philosophy as a screenwriter has always been, "Put it in. You can always take it out later if you can't afford to do it. But if you don't put it in to begin with, then it'll never be in."

Dan Weiss (co-creator): After you get the script, you get a sense of the reality of what you're going to be able to get on-screen. There was a call a month after he gave us the script, where we said, "George, we hate to tell you this, but the chain's not going to be in it." And then we had to call and say, "George, we just don't have time for so many horses. They slow things down."

Martin: I wouldn't say I get frustrated. But it's a loss. It would be harder, if not for my previous experience in TV. I love the show, but I wish we had a couple more episodes every season.

Weiss: The battle specifics were constantly evolving to meet our budget. We wanted as much as we could possibly get, but obviously not more than we could afford so it was all about tailoring the budget. [Note: Though HBO won't divulge specifics, the show's budget is estimated at between $60-$70 million per season]

David Benioff (co-creator): We had one really intense conference call with the HBO brass. It was awkward: They said, "So, what are you guys talking about, an extra $500,000?" We said, "Noooo...." "You guys need a million dollars?" "Ummmm...."

Weiss: I think we asked for $2.5 million. We got $2 million-something. That's a lot of money in TV. It was a big ask for them, and they understood it was really important. Our point was that the entire season was pointing toward this confrontation. To do what's normally done on television—the Shakespearean model of talking about battles off-screen—would completely kill the season.

Benioff: We'd known for about a year that the ninth episode was going to be "Blackwater," and a disproportionate amount of our resources were saved for this episode in terms of time and schedule. It was by far the biggest episode that we've ever done. Then, [before filming], we lost our director. His father got sick, so he had to be home. And we got into panic mode.

Weiss: We were looking at a list of directors who happened to be available because they were in between projects. At any given time that's going to be a pretty small list. And it's a special skill-set to be able to do a convincing battle, even on a generous budget. But this one name popped out, almost in neon: Neil Marshall.

Benioff: I can't actually mention [Marshall's 2007 low-budget thriller] The Descent in front of my wife. That movie freaked her out so much, she can't talk about it, even years after we saw it.

Weiss: So we knew how far Neil could stretch limited resources, and how great he could make them look.

Neil Marshall (director): I got a phone call on a Saturday morning from one of the producers: "Would you like to do an episode?" And I said, "Absolutely. When is it—in the next month or something?" And they said, "Oh, no. We need you Monday morning." I hadn't seen the series, so I had to watch the first season back-to-back on a Sunday, get a flight [from London] to Belfast, and be in the office on Monday morning. I was given a week and a half to prep before shooting, but having come from a low-budget-feature background, I know what it's like to work fast.

Sam Miguel
12-13-2012, 01:47 PM
^^^ Continued

Benioff: Most directors, looking at what Neil had to look at, would have absolutely shat their pants.

Marshall: I'm a keen reader of military battles, and I apply a lot of that thinking when I'm trying to choreograph a movie battle. How would it logically take place? What's the target? What am I trying to achieve with my strategies here?

Benioff: [Still], we were worried. We certainly admired his past work, but coming onto the show is a very different kind of thing. When you're directing a movie, you're the boss of everything, and you're looking at months of prep-time. He was coming into someone else's show with no prep time. He didn't know the characters' names, he didn't know anything ...I'd say we were nervous.

(Though it starts at sea, on the invading ships of Stannis Baratheon [Stephen Dillane], much of "Blackwater" takes place on land, in and around the castle at King's Landing, now ruled by the shifty Lannister clan, including psychopathic teenage king, Joffrey Baratheon, and his mother, Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey). The war begins when a single flaming arrow ignites a green-hued, napalm-like explosive called Wildfire, which destroys much of Baratheon's fleet. When the smoke clears, Baratheon and his surviving men storm the shore with battering rams.]

Marshall: One of the main things I watched [before filming] was The Vikings, the 1958 Kirk Douglas movie. At the end, there's this big battle, and the perception is that there's hundreds of extras, but I rewatched the scene over and over and you never see more than maybe thirty or forty in a shot. That reassured me that, since we were going to have only 200 extras, I could make it look bigger than it actually was.

Benioff: We decided to change it [from the book] and make the whole battle at night, because our FX guys said it'd be much easier. You can hide a lot in darkness.

Weiss: It's also just so much moodier. It's easier to be hopeless at night.

Marshall: We had two weeks of night shoots in October in Belfast [the indoor scenes were shot in Croatia]. It was cold and windy, and during segments of the battle, it rained solidly for three or four nights. But they're hardy people over there.
Benioff: The extras in Northern Ireland are tough fuckin' dudes, and they're into it. These guys grow out their beard and their hair to be extras.

Weiss: [They're] getting better at sword-fighting. They're going to be a full-fledged medieval army by the time this show's finished.

Marshall: I designed a large rowing boat that held a battering ram in it, and when it got to the shore, the people inside flipped the boat over and used the boat as a sort of tortoise-shell. The battering ram kind of hung from a chain underneath it, so the soldiers were protected as they smashed the door down. I don't know if anything like that ever existed, but they built it in a week or two, and it worked. That was fun.

Weiss: The moment I relaxed was when I saw the dailies from the first couple of days, and saw the sheer quantity and quality of footage Neil was getting. That's when I realized things were probably going to be okay. And there was a very good feeling on set, even though 36-degree rain was falling down on you for eight hours.

Benioff: We script every scene so that it has a shape and a small story to tell, even the battle scenes. Neil shot so much amazing footage that we had an embarrassment of riches, and many different options for telling each story.

(Midway through battle, King Joffrey Lannister cowardly retreats from the frontlines, forcing Peter Dinklage's Tyrion to make a desperate, rain-splattered, troop-rousing speech. "Those are brave man knocking at our door," he says. "Let's go kill them!"]

Weiss: At the pace we were shooting, we didn't really have that much time for dramatic scenes. For this monologue, if Peter didn't get it right in two or three takes, he had to move on. And he nailed it.

Benioff: Initially, we didn't know if anyone would watch Game of Thrones, but if they did, we knew they'd be drawn to Tyrion because he's such a great character, and Peter's so perfect to play him. When we were courting him, we said, "You will win an Emmy for this." I'm sure he thought we were bullshitting. (Dinklage won the Emmy in 2011.)

Weiss: There's something heroic about Tyrion, but he's not heroic through violence. And he's getting dragged into these situations against his will, and still coming out alive at least with some form of triumph.

Benioff: In some ways, he's the most modern character. Tyrion's view of the world might be closest to ours. It's almost like he's reached the Enlightenment a bit before everyone else. He has a skepticism about things, he has a sense of humor, and he has a disproportionate share of the best lines.

("Blackwater" isn't short on digital-effects shots—including several awesome Wildfire explosions—but many of the episode's grisly decapitations and sternum-slices were completed using traditional man-made models.]

Benioff: In planning the battle scenes, we were influenced by Saving Private Ryan, but we also watched a lot of older films—Lawrence of Arabia, Spartacus, El Cid, Zulu—because in many ways those films cleaved closest to the aesthetic of the show. They didn't have access to visual effects to achieve their aims. We did, but our budget was limited and we used VFX on things we couldn't possible achieve without them, like the naval elements and the Wildfire explosion. That said, they did create approximately ten million flaming arrows.

Sam Miguel
12-13-2012, 01:49 PM
^^^ Continued

Weiss: Doing [digital] effects with the violence is tempting, because it doesn't take up shooting time, which is so precious. But if you can get the prosthetics-and-makeup version right, it tends to look better. And Neil had this kid-in-a-candy-shop joy.

Benioff: He came in and said, "What if we added a shot here?" And we'd say, "That's great, but I don't think you're gonna have time." And he'd say, "We'll find the time."

Marshall: I was determined to get some gore in there, some heads getting lopped off. That's part of the fun. In medieval battles, they're always throwing rocks off walls, and I wanted to see what would happen if a rock actually smashed into somebody's head. So I came up with a moment when a character runs through the gauntlet of archers and manages to make it to the wall. He breathes a sigh of relief, and then this big rock falls on his head. We made a very realistic dummy—his head had brain-like matter inside—and on action, dropped the rock on it. Blood sprayed everywhere. It was great.

Weiss: Everybody's gonna have a different line you cross when it comes to violence. You can only go with what feels right.

Benioff: Dan doesn't have a line. I'm the squeamish one. And [figuring out what's too much] is a learning process. In the joust episode from season one, when the newly knighted Sir Who's-his-face is dying with the tip of the lance in his throat, there's five seconds of him gurgling blood. If we had to do it over again, we'd have cut two seconds.

Weiss: So much of it is really editorial: "Do you have twelve frames too much of gore here?" Because the line between really powerful, visceral effectiveness and unintentional comedy or gorefest is thin. You don't want it to cross over to Evil Dead territory.

Benioff: We employ a lot of amputees, actually. So when a guy gets his leg chopped off, that's a guy with one leg, wearing a prosthetic.

Marshall: In the original script, Stannis Barantheon didn't get any further than the bottom of the ladders [at the wall of King's Landing] and then he sort of disappeared from the script. I thought, "We have to have him do more than that. If he's the polar opposite of King Joffrey, then he should be the first one up the ladder. Let's have a fight with him on the wall.' We choreographed a whole sequence which was never scripted, of Stannis having a sword fight on the wall, chopping a guy's head off, and then basically watching his army's defeat from a bird's-eye position before being dragged off by his own men.

Martin: I am protective of the characters, but at the same time, I recognize the books are the books, and the show is the show, and there are gonna be differences. The scenes David and Dan add are generally great. They're almost scenes that are implied in the book.

Benioff: Many of the scenes we've written are basically just taking George's characters and putting them into situations they hadn't been before. (The episode's concluding scene—where Cersei is about to poison both herself and her younger son—was also not in the book. The inspiration, according to Benioff, came from the wife of Adolf Hitler follower Joseph Goebbels, who poisoned her kids after Hitler committed suicide.)

Martin: David and Dan will say, "We're thinking of eliminating this character, and I tell them, "Well, you can eliminate that character, but in Book Six, he has this big thing that he does, so you're going to have to deal with that later." And then maybe they change their mind. Or not. [laughs] There's still two gigantic books to go (five have been released; Martin is halfway through the sixth of seven), and there are many things David and Dan don't know about the eventual fates of some of these characters. I have the main beats of the books in my mind. But there's a lot that I discover in the process of writing. The devil is in the details, as they say. And there are a lot of devils in these books.

Benioff: There's another battle bigger than this one coming up, but not until the end of season four. So we're preparing our speeches for how we're gonna ask for more money.

Joescoundrel
12-19-2012, 08:53 AM
Speaking of idiot box...

Baron Geisler at it again, causes commotion at TV5 ball

By Bayani San Diego Jr.

Philippine Daily Inquirer

December 18, 2012 | 7:54 pm

MANILA, Philippines – Actor Baron Geisler did it again.

This time, the troubled actor, who is said to be fighting depression and alcoholism, caused a commotion at the TV 5 ball Tuesday when he quarelled with the station’s talents Edgar Allan Guzman and IC Mendoza and stole a kiss from Divine Lee, according to Guzman’s manager, Noel Ferrer.

As of posting time, the Philippine Daily Inquirer is trying to reach Arnold Vegafria, Geisler’s manager, for comment.

In November, Geisler was arrested after punching a neighbour.

Vegafria disclosed that Geisler has a “chemical imbalance and was undergoing treatment”.

Geisler was released after to his family.

Sam Miguel
01-09-2013, 08:05 AM
What's your day job?

by Joey Ramirez

Posted on 01/08/2013 3:59 PM | Updated 01/08/2013 6:25 PM

This question was posed to a friend of mine, a professional dancer and dance/fitness teacher, right before she was due to perform. It was an innocent question from one of the production staff in charge of obtaining information from the performers.

It puzzled her because she was doing what she loved doing, it just so happened it also put food on the table.

Pressed for a reason why a professional dancer would need a "day job," the staff person replied, "I have to introduce you as ___ (fill in "accepted" occupations like doctor, chef, etc) and that dancing is just a hobby."

The infantile in me would have easily blurted back, "Jealous much?"

It brought one thing in focus: there is a notion (I don't think it is limited to the Philippines) you can have something you're passionate about, and you can have work that pays the bills, but you can't have both.

People who write, dance, take photographs -- anyone who is in the arts -- feels this more acutely. There seems to be a belief that once you mention you are an artist, it must be qualified with the word "starving." Or more accurately, the qualifier isn't needed, it is implied and understood. Hence, the question asked of my friend.

The underlying message here is, "You don't expect me to believe that you actually make a living doing that?!"

It also explains the following scenarios:

People expecting you to take their pictures because you have a camera in tow all the time as a photographer. Gratis.

People expecting you to "show us a dance or two." For fun.

People telling you to teach a movement based class for an hour. For free.

People asking a favor to fulfill their graphic design needs because anyway, "it's very simple only."

All the while, everyone else is making a profit out of your art, the one they insist on pooh-pooing. The one that parents like to remind their kids of as "useless" and something that "will be a dead-end." The one that is seen as a "lowly" job, one that credit card companies would perennially raise their eyebrows on.

Passion

I am reminded of one of those posters in Facebook that reads: "Do something that you love, and you'll never work for a day in your life."

You see, the one thing artists have is passion. What artists do tends to be personal, because a part of them is invariably stamped on their "work." Whether it is a composition, a recital, a mural, a feature article. It isn't a job where you can "copy and paste" from somebody else -- well, you can, but they're called plagiarists, and something very much frowned upon in a field that prides itself as having practitioners who can claim the word unique in everything they do.

And, I would wager, artists have a work ethic that can be described as intense. Rethinking a sentence over and over to properly convey a thought, doing a pirouette so many times the dancer's toes start to bleed but having to do it to give a perfect performance, I personally know of so many artists who are almost obsessively perfectionist in the way they approach what they do. It runs counter to some of the portrayals in media of artists who are shiftless bums with no aim in life.

I wish we had a better appreciation of the arts and how it speaks to our inner lives. Until such a time comes, this view that the arts are something to "pass the time away" while slaving at your "day job" will prevail.

The changing of the current viewpoint should be started by parents and schools, who should nurture talent when it begins to manifest. Children shouldn't be given negative messages like "your talent is worth nothing," unless one is a sadist. They should be encouraged.

And I wish to differentiate it from the current obsession of young people to become artistas (celebrities). Yes, they dance, sing, act, but the companies that mold and train them do so with the view that these people are products, and are "training" to sell records, movie tickets, etc.

The prevalence of reality shows that are supposed to showcase budding actors and singers worries me, as most of the time, the "winners" are determined by text-voting, a clear-cut indication that their "appeal" is more important than the actual talent they supposedly bring to the table. The siren song of fame proves to be irresistible, judging by the number of young people who line up to be part of these shows.

Back to my friend who was asked about her day job. She declared that dancing was it, much to the wonder of the person who asked her.

If only everyone was so fortunate to be doing what they love best for a living. - Rappler.com

Sam Miguel
01-10-2013, 12:56 PM
Can’t we aim higher than ‘Honey Boo Boo’?

Kathleen Parker, Jan 09, 2013 12:49 AM EST

The Washington Post Published: January 9

No one forced me, but I finally decided it was time to discover what all the business was about Honey Boo Boo.

Even though I’ve made reference to the show featuring a former beauty tot, now 7, and her family, I’d never actually watched a full episode. I still haven’t, but I watched enough to need a jaw adjustment.

Alas, a few minutes with “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” confirms that even mindlessness has its limits.

It gives me no pleasure to add to the ridicule of Honey, whose real name is Alana, or her family. That they have willingly participated in this spectacle — and, one hopes, are getting filthy rich in the process — is of little consolation. Far more offensive than the show is the fact of an audience.

Obviously, people watch because it is so awful. You can’t believe it and so you keep tuning in. But is it right to watch? Only to the extent that it is acceptable to accompany strangers to the restroom.

Such diversions are reminiscent of carnival sideshows of my childhood — the bearded lady (who perhaps suffered hormonal excesses) or the fat lady (whose rolls of adipose were spectacularly offensive and, for her, no doubt tragic). Responsible parents steered their children away not only to protect them but also because, we were taught, it wasn’t right to enjoy the misfortunes or disadvantages of others.

No such lessons seem to prevail today. If we don’t revel in the hilarity of poor, uneducated people, neither do we protest their exploitation. Our silence conveys approval while ratings disprove objection. Culturally, we are all complicit in the decline of community values.

Whereupon, we reluctantly praise free speech.

I, too, argue — mostly with myself — that we tolerate the worst in defense of the best. We don’t need a First Amendment to protect the sublime or the popular but to protect what is unpopular and, in collateral damage, the grotesque.

Of course, such notions originally were aimed at unpopular political speech. The goal was to liberate ideas, which is not the same as exploring man’s basest instincts. One needn’t be a scholar to infer that our nation’s Founders were little interested in sharing the details of their ablutions or such bodily bloviations as are aired on so-called reality TV. Reality, after all, is what civilization attempts to mitigate.

The Honey Boo Boo family proudly shares even that which Beano intends to prevent. During the episode I watched, one was privy to a family weigh-in on a scale deserving of pity, the labor pains of what appeared to be a teenager and a smattering of remarks about various anatomical regions once quaintly referred to as “privates.”

In urgent need of purification, I changed the channel and, lurching past my usual flat-line pursuits, landed in a documentary about Alexandria (ancient Egypt, not modern Virginia.) How do you spell relief? (Don’t ask Honey Boo Boo.) Hearing about a day 2,300 years ago, when knowledge was valued as much as gold, was like sinking into a warm bath.

Alexander the Great, who had conquered much of the world by age 24, had learned early during his tutelage under Aristotle that knowledge is the greatest power and set about to make his city the aggregator of the world’s intellectual bounty. Alexandria’s library, ultimately destroyed by future hordes, was the largest on the planet — the World Wide Web of antiquity. Outdoor classrooms were as ubiquitous as Starbucks today.

Undoubtedly, there were plenty who, unable to avail themselves of Alexander’s noble intentions, happily would have cradled a remote-control device that permitted them passive depravity. But what was striking is that the larger culture collectively aimed at something higher.

Yes, as some are bound to note, there was blood in the streets. Alexandria through its history was home not only to some of mankind’s greatest intellectual achievements but also to some of the human race’s vilest expressions of violence.

Notably, in the fourth century A.D., Christian mobs dragged the beautiful and brilliant Hypatia — philosopher/mathematician/astronomer/teacher — from her carriage and commenced to strip, flay and chop her into pieces before burning her body parts on a pyre. A confessed pagan, she was a tad too smart for divinely inspired men — what with that astrolabe she was always toying with.

So not all was lovelier in other times. But culture does matter, as Alexander knew more than 2,000 years ago. Would that our attentions today were as riveted by our Hypatias as by our Honey Boo Boos.

Read more from Kathleen Parker’s archive, follow her on Twitter or find her on Facebook.

Sam Miguel
01-15-2013, 10:14 AM
List of Golden Globe winners

Associated Press

January 14, 2013 | 12:42 pm

Winners of the 70th annual Golden Globe Awards, announced Sunday in Beverly Hills, California:

MOTION PICTURES

— Picture, Drama: “Argo.”

— Picture, Musical or Comedy: “Les Miserables.”

— Actor, Drama: Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln.”

— Actress, Drama: Jessica Chastain, “Zero Dark Thirty.”

— Director: Ben Affleck, “Argo.”

— Actor, Musical or Comedy: Hugh Jackman, “Les Miserables.”

— Actress, Musical or Comedy: Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook.”

— Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz, “Django Unchained.”

— Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway, “Les Miserables.”

— Foreign Language: “Amour.”

— Animated Film: “Brave.”

— Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino, “Django Unchained.”

— Original Score: Mychael Danna, “Life of Pi.”

— Original Song: “Skyfall” (music and lyrics by Adele and Paul Epworth), “Skyfall.”

TELEVISION

— Series, Drama: “Homeland.”

— Series, Musical or Comedy: “Girls.”

— Actress, Drama: Claire Danes, “Homeland.”

— Actor, Drama: Damian Lewis, “Homeland.”

— Actress, Musical or Comedy: Lena Dunham, “Girls.”

— Actor, Musical or Comedy: Don Cheadle, “House of Lies.”

— Miniseries or Movie: “Game Change.”

— Actress, Miniseries or Movie: Julianne Moore, “Game Change.”

— Actor, Miniseries or Movie: Kevin Costner, “Hatfields & McCoys.”

— Supporting Actress, Series, Miniseries or Movie: Maggie Smith, “Downton Abbey.”

— Supporting Actor, Series, Miniseries or Movie: Ed Harris, “Game Change.”

Previously announced:

Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award: Jodie Foster.

Sam Miguel
01-30-2013, 10:13 AM
'South Park' seasons reduced to 10 episodes

by James Hibberd

Trey Parker and Matt Stone are scaling back on South Park. The Book of Mormon creators are reducing their commitment to the long-running Comedy Central hit from 14 episodes per year (split into two short seasons) to 10.

“Why did we do seven and seven to begin with?” Stone said in a New York Times story earlier this week. “We just sort of made that up. And we are switching to 10 for the same reason. It just sounded like a good number, and we won’t break up the year so we can more easily do other stuff … In our first season, you had to show up on Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. on the comedy channel to catch the show. Now, I don’t even know where or how people watch our show. We sort of don’t really care about ratings. It’s more important to come up with work that will add to the library in a way that we’re proud of and will make people want to catch the show wherever they want to.”

Added Doug Herzog, president of Comedy Central-owner Viacom Entertainment Group: “We’re happy to take as many or as few as they can produce. Frankly, I’m surprised it took them this long to get to a schedule like this.”

The South Park guys have been busy empire building lately. They’re finishing a South Park videogame, recently announced they’re forming a production company and overseeing the ongoing expansion of Mormon to new cities.

Sam Miguel
01-30-2013, 10:14 AM
NBC's 'Alice in Wonderland' sequel gets pilot order

by James Hibberd

NBC is going further down the rabbit hole. The network has greenlit a pilot order for its Alice in Wonderland sequel project.

Titled Wonderland, the show is a modern-day follow-up to Lewis Carroll’s classic novel that will focus on a new character, Clara. Here’s the official logline: “Seven years ago Clara’s life took an unexplained turn for the worse, but a mysterious stranger tells her there may be an explanation after all … an explanation that lies in the fantastical world of Wonderland. Determined to revive her dreams and get her life back on track, Clara agrees to wage war against the reigning but malevolent Queen, the woman we once knew as Alice.”
The pilot is written by Whit Anderson and executive produced by CSI creator Anthony Zuiker along with Matt Weinberg, JoAnn Alfano and Margaret Riley.

This isn’t the only Alice in Wonderland TV project in the works this season. The CW is developing a variation of the story (called Wunderland) that’s set in modern-day Los Angeles, but that title did not receive a pilot order and The CW might be finished with its pickups. The NBC pickup comes the day after the broadcaster greenlit a pilot that puts a new spin on another well-known story, the Hatfields & McCoys. More on that project here.

Having a situation where two networks are developing dueling projects based on the same idea seems to happen every year. Last pilot season, The CW and ABC faced off with rival Beauty and the Beast projects. The only thing that’s pretty certain is there probably won’t be a Wonderland and a Wunderland on the air next season.

Sam Miguel
01-30-2013, 10:16 AM
'How I Met Your Mother': Five scoops on the rest of the season

by Sandra Gonzalez

Monday’s How I Met Your Mother marks the return of everyone’s favorite Canadian pop star, Robin Sparkles.

And to celebrate what could be the final installment of this iconic series (we’ll expand on that in a bit), Cobie Smulders and executive producer Craig Thomas hopped on a conference call with reporters to tease her return and talk about what else is in store for Robin and the gang this season.

1) This MIGHT not be the end of Robin Sparkles

Even though Monday’s episode, which finds Barney uncovering an unseen Robin Sparkles video — has been highly touted as the final installment of Robin Sparkles, Thomas says, the writers don’t rule out the possibility of bringing her back again should a fantastic idea come to mind. However, he adds, “we’re pretty happy with this as a potential final chapter of Robin Sparkles. I think people will see how this bridges the gap between the Robin we’ve seen before and what came next and what was the end of Robin Sparkles’ career. So if it’s the end, it feels like a fitting ending” One idea that Thomas might pitch? “In the back of my head somewhere I’m thinking how do [we] not get Robin up at her own wedding to perform some medley of Robin Sparkles songs?…But who the hell knows.”

2) Robin’s “obsession” revealed?

In Monday’s episode, the gang has a debate about obsessions and, according to Smulders, “how one becomes obsessed with another person.” In this talk, Robin admits that she was obsessed with someone in the past, which, naturally, launches Barney into a search for that person. “He goes on this mission and at the end of his mission, he finds this video,” says Smulders. But will the identity of Robin’s obsession be revealed? Is it James van der Beek? We’ll find out Monday. Meanwhile, expect to see a darker side of Robin Sparkles and what Thomas calls “the craziest” version of the persona yet. Hint: Both Smulders and Thomas admit that Alanis Morissette was a big influence on this version of Sparkles.

3) There WILL be a Barney-Robin wedding this season.

“We’ve been seeing glimpses of this wedding for, like, three years!” says Thomas. “We have to get there already.” But before they make it to the altar, says Thomas, it’s not entirely clear whether or not Barney and Robin will discuss the possibility of children. (In the past, Barney has entertained the idea, while Robin is aware that she is medically unable to have any.) “Definitely it’s an issue we’re interested to cover…but I don’t want to say we’ve completely ruled out a discussion between them.” Moreover, he said, Barney and Robin are on “an accelerated timeline” so the coming months will see “Robin and Barney realize all the topics they do have to talk about and cover — whether it’s Robin’s dad or all the other things that will come up as they go.”

4) Ted isn’t entirely over Robin.

Even though Ted had some closure on the issue of Robin in recent episodes, Thomas says the door is definitely not closed on that issue. “I don’t want to say how or when, but yeah,” he says, “it’s so built into the DNA of the show and, we’re heading toward this huge finish of this series. Whether sooner or later, there’s a big culminating ending coming in the near future of the show, of course, that dynamic has to be addressed again.”

5) WILL THERE BE A FINAL SLAP?

“I don’t want to say one way or another,” says Thomas. “But I love that people are finding that the slap bet clock still exists.” Additionally, Thomas says they are aware there are two slaps left and “we’re hoping to pay off every loose end before the end of the series.”

Sam Miguel
02-11-2013, 09:42 AM
‘Party’ probation flexible

By Bayani San Diego Jr. & Marinel Cruz

February 10, 2013 | 9:16 pm

The six-month probation slapped by the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) on the GMA 7 musical-variety show “Party Pilipinas” for airing a “sexually-charged” dance number can be lifted any time at the board’s discretion.

This was according to vice president for Entertainment TV Marivin Arayata, who explained that the board would only have to see “that we’re cooperating and following its rules and regulations.” Arayata added, “We will definitely comply.” He said the board and the network agreed on all the provisions of the ruling.

The MTRCB decision released on Feb.7 required GMA 7 to submit, on a daily basis, taped episodes of the program for the next six months. During the probation period, the resolution said, any violation of MTRCB rules could lead to the show’s cancellation.

‘Very willing’

“We are very willing to cooperate with them,” Arayata stressed. “Right now, we’re conducting our own investigation of what really happened. We’re talking to everybody—from the performers to the producers. [The officers] will meet on this matter again within the week.”

In compliance with the MTRCB ruling, the Kapuso network issued a public apology yesterday for airing the sexy song-and-dance number of Lovi Poe, Rocco Nacino and a few other artists on Jan. 27.

The board’s adjudication committee asserted in the ruling that there was a “need for [GMA 7] to assure the public [that] there will be no repetition” of the incident.

Training

MTRCB chair Eugenio “Toto” Villareal said the board received “numerous complaints from concerned viewers” about the sexy number.

The board required the network to submit “the final report on its internal investigation” within 15 days. The report will “serve as basis” for the board’s ultimate decision—whether to require another public apology or terminate the case.

The network’s “concerned officials and personnel” were required to undergo Gender and Development (GAD) training under the supervision of the MTRCB no later than the end of March 2013.

“We are still looking for a date for the seminar,” Arayata said. “We hope to hold it at one of our studios to accommodate more people. We plan to invite not only our officers but also the choreographers and members of our creative team. We look at this as something that’s beneficial to all of us.”

Among those required to undergo the GAD training were Jose Mari Abacan, vice president for programming; Mark Reyes, director; and Lui Cadag, executive producer.

Sam Miguel
03-13-2013, 08:35 AM
Make way for The Innovators

(The Philippine Star) | Updated March 13, 2013 - 12:00am

The Innovators: The Men Who Built America chronicles the stories of Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Carnegie, Astor, Ford and Morgan, and how they actualized their vision for America

MANILA, Philippines - Industries weren’t discovered. They were built. Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Carnegie, Astor, Ford and Morgan — these are the men who built it and their names have become synonymous with the American dream. The Innovators: The Men Who Built America, premiering tonight at 9 on History and airing every Wednesday thereafter, chronicles how these great minds succeeded in actualizing their vision for the nation.

First episode A New War Begins follows Cornelius Vanderbilt, an industrialist and philanthropist who was the first to see the need for unity for America to regain stature in the world. He sells his shipping empire to invest everything in railroads.

Vanderbilt soon expands the industry further in the second episode, Oil Strike, which airs on March 20. The demand for oil is sky-high and Vanderbilt knows that oil can fill his trains. He turns to John Rockefeller, a young maverick oilman from Ohio, to do just that.

Third episode A Rivalry is Born screens on March 27, where Scottish-American industrialist Andrew Carnegie becomes part of the business. After immigrating to the States with his parents, Carnegie begins working at age 12 and finds a patron and mentor in railroad executive Tom Scott.

By age 30, while already running his own business, Scott hires him to build a bridge over the Mississippi river to link East and West in a way never before thought possible by train. Carnegie agrees, but has yet to find how he can build a strong enough bridge. His doubt is quelled when he finds his solution: Steel. Carnegie eventually leads the steel industry into enormous expansion.

The Innovators also profiles the millions of American workers, from the steel mills of Pennsylvania to the assembly lines of Detroit, whose dreams were turned into reality.

History is available on SKYCable Ch 67; Cable Link Ch. 44; Dream Satellite Ch 30; Destiny Cable Ch 57.

Sam Miguel
03-14-2013, 02:12 PM
Talk about a waste of time and effort, if I had the moolah I'd put a P10 Million on this a---ole's head - - -

MTRCB to ‘Wowowillie’: Provide gender-sensitivity, decorum measures

INQUIRER.net

March 13, 2013 | 8:14 pm

MANILA, Philippines—The Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) on Wednesday ordered TV5’s noontime show “Wowowillie” to provide “gender-sensitivity and decorum measures” that would promote “more positive images of women and men.”

At Wednesday’s gender-sensitivity and decorum inquiry, TV5/Wowowillie undertook before the MTRCB to:

1. Submit by March 20 gender-sensitivity and decorum measures which will promote, on the part of its producers, hosts, and crews more positive images of women and men;

2. Undergo Gender-and-Development (GAD) training by April 2013 (which may eventually be network-wide); and

3. Submit the program to unhampered gender-sensitivity and decorum spot checks, even while on air, anytime.
The MTRCB thanked the cooperation of both TV5 management and Wil Productions at Wednesday’s inquiry.

It also acknowledged the appointment of Cheska Montes as gender focal person of the said network.

The MTRCB summoned TV5 to a gender-sensitivity and decorum inquiry over an episode of Wowowillie aired on February 28 when a female talent was castigated on air by its main host Willie Revillame.

Sam Miguel
03-22-2013, 01:42 PM
'The Tonight Show' Saga Continues: Reports Say Leno Out, Fallon In

Buzz indicates NBC wants the "Late Night" host to move up to 11:35 in 2014.

By Kelly Woo | Yahoo! TV – 8 hours ago

The late-night hosting carousel is so topsy-turvy and fascinating, it'd make one hell of a reality show on its own.

Late-night World War III is getting underway, with The New York Times and The Hollywood Reporter reporting that NBC wants to boot Jay Leno as host of "The Tonight Show" when his contract runs out next year, and install "Late Night" host Jimmy Fallon in his place.

The move comes just a few years after Leno took back the show from Conan O'Brien, whose short-lived stint saw a drop in ratings. And it's happening despite the fact that Leno continues to draw bigger audiences than rival David Letterman and time slot newcomer Jimmy Kimmel.

But sources say that NBC wants to target younger viewers, especially now that Kimmel has moved up to 11:35. It seems too soon to hear rumblings of yet another succession plan, given what an epic fail the last one turned out to be, but writer Joel Keller of Antenna Free TV, a keen observer of the late-night television scene, isn't surprised.

"Just because Leno got the job back doesn't mean that NBC still didn't want to see him leaving at some point," Keller tells us. "And with Kimmel coming in at 11:30 and taking some of the [young viewers] away from Jay, they see the writing on the wall. They think this is the perfect time to get rid of Jay once and for all."

The First Late-Night War

What's happening today is a result of everything that went down in 1992, when Johnny Carson retired as host of "The Tonight Show." Everybody presumed "Late Night" host David Letterman would move up to the earlier time slot, including Letterman himself. Instead, NBC tapped Leno, whose genial, bland form of humor put off many critics. The resulting furor saw Letterman leave to create his own "Late Show" on CBS.

The two hosts, once friendly colleagues, have rarely spoken since. They briefly reunited for a 2010 Super Bowl commercial with Oprah Winfrey, but Letterman continues to make digs about Leno to this day.

The Second Late-Night War

In 2004, Leno made the surprising announcement that in five years, Conan O'Brien (who'd taken over "Late Night" from Letterman), would succeed him as host. As he explained, they wanted to avoid the controversy that took place with Leno's appointment.

But when the appointed deadline loomed, it became clear that Leno -- still the ratings king -- was unhappy about being pushed out. NBC, nervous that he might jump to another network, gave him a daily 10 PM primetime comedy show.

Then O'Brien's "Tonight Show" began to slip in the ratings, while "The Jay Leno Show" bombed with critics and audiences. Desperate to salvage their prize late-night jewel, NBC executives began to consider moving Leno's show to 11:35, and "The Tonight Show" after midnight for the first time in its history.

In protest, O'Brien released an excoriating statement (which went viral) saying he would not host a "Tonight Show" at 12:05, as it would "seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting." Subsequently, NBC paid him off to leave the show, then reinstalled Leno as host. O'Brien, now with a groundswell of support, embarked on a comedy tour, then created his own late-night program on TBS.

The dizzying turn of events only cemented Leno's image as the bad guy. Even Kimmel jumped into the fray when he appeared on one of the final "Jay Leno Show" episodes. Asked about the best prank he'd ever pulled, Kimmel responded, "I told a guy that five years from now I'm gonna give you my show, and then when the five years came, I gave it to him and then I took it back almost instantly."

The Succession Plan 2.0

Now the late-night saga is heating back up again with reports of NBC's newest succession plan. But this time, Keller doesn't think the network will change their minds as they did with O'Brien. Fallon's "Late Night" is a "much more mainstream show" than O'Brien's version, Keller says.

"Jimmy's show translates very well to 11:30 … so I think if the ratings slip a little bit, but they see strong numbers in 18-49, they'll let Fallon be in second place for a little while to Letterman," Keller explains. "They know that once Jay leaves, Letterman is probably going to be a year or two at most from leaving as well. I think there's a bit of a Cold War between the two of them -- one's not going to leave until the other does."

Plus, unlike in 2009, when NBC worried that Leno might move to another network (and take his millions of viewers with him), Keller notes, "There aren't as many places for him to go now … Fox? Well, yeah, Leno could go to Fox, but Fox's affiliates are probably very happy with having 'Seinfeld' and 'Office' reruns, or maybe picking up 'The Arsenio Hall Show' later this year."

While cable is a possibility, "The Conan Show" averages just about a million viewers a night; that would be a huge step down for Leno, who draws an audience three times as large on "Tonight."

Even if Leno is still the late-night king and brings in ratings to the sinking NBC, the network may be especially eager to get rid of him after the host's recent disparaging comments about his bosses. In the last few weeks, he's called the NBC brass "snakes" and quipped that the network was going extinct. He also joked, "'The Biggest Loser' isn't just a TV show anymore; it's our new motto."

The digs reportedly angered NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt so much that he fired off a complaint email to Leno.

"No matter the fact that Jay is No. 1, there seems to be [an] adversarial relationship between Jay and NBC," Keller says, noting that after new owners Comcast took over, Leno's budget and staff were slashed.

The Future of "Tonight"

If all the rumors are true, then Fallon will take over as "Tonight Show" host sometime in the second half of 2014. (Some are even whispering he might replace Leno as soon as next February, when NBC broadcasts the Winter Olympics.)

Not only that, but NBC would also move "The Tonight Show" from its longtime home in Burbank to a new, state-of-the-art studio in New York, where Fallon is based. That would be a return to the show's roots, since it premiered in New York in 1954 with host Steve Allen.

Fallon himself isn't talking much about the possibility. He made a slight joke Wednesday night, but told GQ magazine, "I mean, in the nicest way, who really cares? … It would be great, sure, I guess. I'd love it, but it's not on my mind. I'm in no rush to do anything. I'm kind of a boring character in that book. I'm not in a fight with Jay or Conan, or any of them. I don't have that story."

If Fallon does succeed Leno, then who will succeed Fallon at "Late Night"? Rumors are swirling that NBC is considering shock jock Howard Stern. He's popular among young men, but proved he could tone down his act enough to judge the family-friendly "America's Got Talent."

"On the surface it seems strange, because Howard is almost 60 -- he's only three years younger than Jay," Keller says. "But Howard's audience has always been youthful, and Howard doesn't look 60 or act 60."

But if they do choose Stern, he adds, "They'll get decent ratings, but it's a short-term fix. If you put Howard at 12:30, he may be there five years and that's it."

Among all the swirl around who will host what in late night, women still remain out of the conversation -- something that Keller hopes will be addressed this time around. "I do think that the time is right for the networks to have a female late-night host. Chelsea Handler has proven that there's an audience there," he says.

"There are plenty of women that could do the job very well and it would break that whole mold of late night being … a place for dudes. It would be a good chance to do some out-of-the-box thinking at 12:30."

Though Fallon considers himself a "boring character," the late-night saga is anything but. With ratings down across the board, as Fallon put it: Who really cares?

"It's still a moneymaker for the networks," Keller notes. "The reason why it's such a big deal is because the drama involved is so interesting. [New York Times] writer Bill Carter has written two best-selling books about it … There's still a cultural significance to the shows."

Sam Miguel
03-22-2013, 01:42 PM
'The Tonight Show' Saga Continues: Reports Say Leno Out, Fallon In

Buzz indicates NBC wants the "Late Night" host to move up to 11:35 in 2014.

By Kelly Woo | Yahoo! TV – 8 hours ago

The late-night hosting carousel is so topsy-turvy and fascinating, it'd make one hell of a reality show on its own.

Late-night World War III is getting underway, with The New York Times and The Hollywood Reporter reporting that NBC wants to boot Jay Leno as host of "The Tonight Show" when his contract runs out next year, and install "Late Night" host Jimmy Fallon in his place.

The move comes just a few years after Leno took back the show from Conan O'Brien, whose short-lived stint saw a drop in ratings. And it's happening despite the fact that Leno continues to draw bigger audiences than rival David Letterman and time slot newcomer Jimmy Kimmel.

But sources say that NBC wants to target younger viewers, especially now that Kimmel has moved up to 11:35. It seems too soon to hear rumblings of yet another succession plan, given what an epic fail the last one turned out to be, but writer Joel Keller of Antenna Free TV, a keen observer of the late-night television scene, isn't surprised.

"Just because Leno got the job back doesn't mean that NBC still didn't want to see him leaving at some point," Keller tells us. "And with Kimmel coming in at 11:30 and taking some of the [young viewers] away from Jay, they see the writing on the wall. They think this is the perfect time to get rid of Jay once and for all."

The First Late-Night War

What's happening today is a result of everything that went down in 1992, when Johnny Carson retired as host of "The Tonight Show." Everybody presumed "Late Night" host David Letterman would move up to the earlier time slot, including Letterman himself. Instead, NBC tapped Leno, whose genial, bland form of humor put off many critics. The resulting furor saw Letterman leave to create his own "Late Show" on CBS.

The two hosts, once friendly colleagues, have rarely spoken since. They briefly reunited for a 2010 Super Bowl commercial with Oprah Winfrey, but Letterman continues to make digs about Leno to this day.

The Second Late-Night War

In 2004, Leno made the surprising announcement that in five years, Conan O'Brien (who'd taken over "Late Night" from Letterman), would succeed him as host. As he explained, they wanted to avoid the controversy that took place with Leno's appointment.

But when the appointed deadline loomed, it became clear that Leno -- still the ratings king -- was unhappy about being pushed out. NBC, nervous that he might jump to another network, gave him a daily 10 PM primetime comedy show.

Then O'Brien's "Tonight Show" began to slip in the ratings, while "The Jay Leno Show" bombed with critics and audiences. Desperate to salvage their prize late-night jewel, NBC executives began to consider moving Leno's show to 11:35, and "The Tonight Show" after midnight for the first time in its history.

In protest, O'Brien released an excoriating statement (which went viral) saying he would not host a "Tonight Show" at 12:05, as it would "seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting." Subsequently, NBC paid him off to leave the show, then reinstalled Leno as host. O'Brien, now with a groundswell of support, embarked on a comedy tour, then created his own late-night program on TBS.

The dizzying turn of events only cemented Leno's image as the bad guy. Even Kimmel jumped into the fray when he appeared on one of the final "Jay Leno Show" episodes. Asked about the best prank he'd ever pulled, Kimmel responded, "I told a guy that five years from now I'm gonna give you my show, and then when the five years came, I gave it to him and then I took it back almost instantly."

The Succession Plan 2.0

Now the late-night saga is heating back up again with reports of NBC's newest succession plan. But this time, Keller doesn't think the network will change their minds as they did with O'Brien. Fallon's "Late Night" is a "much more mainstream show" than O'Brien's version, Keller says.

"Jimmy's show translates very well to 11:30 … so I think if the ratings slip a little bit, but they see strong numbers in 18-49, they'll let Fallon be in second place for a little while to Letterman," Keller explains. "They know that once Jay leaves, Letterman is probably going to be a year or two at most from leaving as well. I think there's a bit of a Cold War between the two of them -- one's not going to leave until the other does."

Plus, unlike in 2009, when NBC worried that Leno might move to another network (and take his millions of viewers with him), Keller notes, "There aren't as many places for him to go now … Fox? Well, yeah, Leno could go to Fox, but Fox's affiliates are probably very happy with having 'Seinfeld' and 'Office' reruns, or maybe picking up 'The Arsenio Hall Show' later this year."

While cable is a possibility, "The Conan Show" averages just about a million viewers a night; that would be a huge step down for Leno, who draws an audience three times as large on "Tonight."

Even if Leno is still the late-night king and brings in ratings to the sinking NBC, the network may be especially eager to get rid of him after the host's recent disparaging comments about his bosses. In the last few weeks, he's called the NBC brass "snakes" and quipped that the network was going extinct. He also joked, "'The Biggest Loser' isn't just a TV show anymore; it's our new motto."

The digs reportedly angered NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt so much that he fired off a complaint email to Leno.

"No matter the fact that Jay is No. 1, there seems to be [an] adversarial relationship between Jay and NBC," Keller says, noting that after new owners Comcast took over, Leno's budget and staff were slashed.

The Future of "Tonight"

If all the rumors are true, then Fallon will take over as "Tonight Show" host sometime in the second half of 2014. (Some are even whispering he might replace Leno as soon as next February, when NBC broadcasts the Winter Olympics.)

Not only that, but NBC would also move "The Tonight Show" from its longtime home in Burbank to a new, state-of-the-art studio in New York, where Fallon is based. That would be a return to the show's roots, since it premiered in New York in 1954 with host Steve Allen.

Fallon himself isn't talking much about the possibility. He made a slight joke Wednesday night, but told GQ magazine, "I mean, in the nicest way, who really cares? … It would be great, sure, I guess. I'd love it, but it's not on my mind. I'm in no rush to do anything. I'm kind of a boring character in that book. I'm not in a fight with Jay or Conan, or any of them. I don't have that story."

If Fallon does succeed Leno, then who will succeed Fallon at "Late Night"? Rumors are swirling that NBC is considering shock jock Howard Stern. He's popular among young men, but proved he could tone down his act enough to judge the family-friendly "America's Got Talent."

"On the surface it seems strange, because Howard is almost 60 -- he's only three years younger than Jay," Keller says. "But Howard's audience has always been youthful, and Howard doesn't look 60 or act 60."

But if they do choose Stern, he adds, "They'll get decent ratings, but it's a short-term fix. If you put Howard at 12:30, he may be there five years and that's it."

Among all the swirl around who will host what in late night, women still remain out of the conversation -- something that Keller hopes will be addressed this time around. "I do think that the time is right for the networks to have a female late-night host. Chelsea Handler has proven that there's an audience there," he says.

"There are plenty of women that could do the job very well and it would break that whole mold of late night being … a place for dudes. It would be a good chance to do some out-of-the-box thinking at 12:30."

Though Fallon considers himself a "boring character," the late-night saga is anything but. With ratings down across the board, as Fallon put it: Who really cares?

"It's still a moneymaker for the networks," Keller notes. "The reason why it's such a big deal is because the drama involved is so interesting. [New York Times] writer Bill Carter has written two best-selling books about it … There's still a cultural significance to the shows."

Sam Miguel
03-22-2013, 01:48 PM
Matt Lauer, Ann Curry Today Show Fallout Was "Personal": "Everybody Understood That Ann Was Kicked Out of Her Position Because Matt Didn't Want Her There"

Us Weekly – 6 hours ago

Ann Curry's seemingly abrupt oust from the Today show last June didn't come as a huge surprise to many of her colleagues, a new cover story for New York magazine reveals. In fact, reporter Joe Hagan writes, her fate at the top-rated NBC morning talk show was, in a way, sealed from the get-go because of the obvious lack of chemistry between her and co-host Matt Lauer.

"Everybody at NBC, everybody at the Today show, everybody understood that Ann was kicked out of her position because Matt didn't want her there," a prominent NBC staffer told Hagan. "That's why it was so personal between Ann and Matt."

Don Nash, a current executive producer for the show, added that there was just no hiding the pair's lackluster banter on-screen.

"You can't fake it for very long that early in the morning," he told Hagan. "I think viewers have a sixth sense about all that. If your two anchors don't like each other off the air, they're not going to be fooled if they love each other on the air."

Curry, 55, took Meredith Vieira's place in the co-anchor slot in June 2011 shortly after the former View co-host announced her decision to leave to spend more time with her ailing husband. After a few months of on-air awkwardness, however, Lauer was reportedly so fed up that he was ready to bolt out the door.

"Off air, Curry and Lauer had no relationship and barely spoke," Hagan writes. "When she started, Curry had asked Lauer out for lunch to get advice, but Lauer seemed to drag his feet scheduling it and Curry felt he didn't offer much. … with Curry, who threw off his rhythm and also threatened his dominance of the hard-news stories, he could often look sour."

Adding to his frustrations was the fact that Lauer, 55, had recently found out that NBC had been in talks to bring American Idol host Ryan Seacrest onto the network -- possibly to replace him. To make matters worse, Lauer reportedly caught wind of the rumors while at a White House Christmas party, where he was waiting at security after Curry had forgotten her driver's license.

"By early last year, Lauer seemed to his colleagues to be growing more and more disgruntled," Hagan adds. "He began getting more involved in the daily story lineup, getting in fights with producers and tearing the show up in the early-morning hours. He made it clear to friends that he was miserable with Curry and uncomfortable with his corporate masters at Comcast."

"He spoke often of downsizing his work life, playing more golf, spending more time with his kids in the Hamptons," Hagan continues.

One of the places Lauer had been looking to escape to amid all the tumultuous discussions at NBC was rival network ABC, Hagen reveals. In fact, Lauer had been hoping to develop a daytime talk show with his former co-host Katie Couric, and had even spoken with Bob Iger, the CEO of Disney, about the possible move.

Things seemed like they would move forward, and ABC executives were excited about the possible new addition to their team, but ultimately, Hagan writes, Lauer "surprised them all by calling and saying thanks but no thanks."

In the end, Lauer stayed on the Today show because he said he "cared about the show and staff" -- and a hefty paycheck, to the tune of "a reported $25 million a year to work four days a week."

A few months later, in June 2012, Curry was ousted from the Today show, and Lauer would go on to shoulder much of the blame for her sudden, emotional departure.

"It was a hard time for everybody," he said in an interview with the Daily Beast earlier this month. "I don't think the show and the network handled the transition well. You don't have to be Einstein to know that."

"It clearly did not help us," he continued. "We were seen as a family, and we didn't handle a family matter well."

This article originally appeared on Usmagazine.com: Matt Lauer, Ann Curry Today Show Fallout Was "Personal": "Everybody Understood That Ann Was Kicked Out of Her Position Because Matt Didn't Want Her There"

Sam Miguel
03-22-2013, 01:48 PM
GMA7 to block gov’t move to infuse P5B in PTV4

‘Unfair,’ exec cries on plan to prop up public TV

By Paolo G. Montecillo

7:35 pm | Sunday, March 24th, 2013

Broadcast giant GMA Network Inc. may file formal charges to block the government’s move to infuse capital worth P5 billion in the state-run People’s Television Network (PTV).

The government TV station plans to start selling advertising minutes in 2014.

GMA Network chair Felipe L. Gozon said PTV channel 4 should not be allowed to compete with private sector players that already pay taxes to the government.

“Part of that money being infused into PTV4 comes from the taxes we pay the government. We find that unfair,” Gozon said. “If PTV4 is allowed to compete with us, that’s our money funding our competitor.”

Last week, President Aquino signed into law Republic Act. No. 103901, or amendments to the PTV charter under RA No. 7306, “An Act Providing for the Establishment of the People’s Television Network, Incorporated, Defining Its Powers and Functions, Providing for Its Sources of Funding and for Other Purposes.”

Apart from the infusion of fresh capital—to add to the P1 billion PTV4 already has—the new law gives the state broadcast company the right to make money from advertising.

Gozon strongly opposed the measure when it was proposed in Congress.

“Now that it’s signed into law, we have to study if there’s a way to invalidate it,” said Gozon, who also heads his own law firm concurrent with his position as GMA chair.

While the state has the right to provide basic public services such as hospitals and schools, Gozon said the government should leave the media industry, which acts as the so-called “fourth estate,” to private companies.

Sam Miguel
03-26-2013, 08:44 AM
Lorne Michaels: The Real NBC Late Night King

By NELLIE ANDREEVA | Deadline.com – Sat, Mar 23, 2013 12:06 AM PDT

For decades, the host of The Tonight Show has been crowned NBC’s late-night king. But through the years, one figure has been looming larger than any host or executive in NBC’s late night, producer Lorne Michaels, and the current turmoil over the Tonight Show transition is poised to further cement his enormous clout.

Known as a fixer, Michaels launched and runs NBC’s Saturday Night Live, whose recent episode hosted by Justin Timberlake stands as NBC’s highest-rated entertainment series telecast of 2013 in adults 18-49.

Lorne was removed in the early 1980s only to be brought back several years later after SNL‘s fortunes had begun to fade, and he quickly brought the sketch show back to top form. In 1993, Michaels was brought to rescue the Late Night franchise, in shambles after David Letterman’s abrupt departure.

He reached to his SNL bench and plucked out a writer, Conan O’Brien, as new host of Late Night. And in 2008, he orchestrated the anointment of another of his SNL pupils, Jimmy Fallon, as O’Brien’s successor when he moved to The Tonight Show. While Michaels was reportedly not involved in O’Brien’s brief stint at The Tonight Show, he appears very hands-on in the pending changeover between Jay Leno and Fallon and will likely continue to have a presence when Fallon becomes Tonight Show host, especially with the plan to keep Fallon in New York and move The Tonight Show franchise there.

That means that, unless Late Night relocates to Los Angeles, NBC could conceivably have all three of its marquee late night shows, The Tonight Show, Late Night and SNL, under the same roof and under the watchful eye of Michaels. (A move of Late Night to LA would make it difficult for Michaels to be in control and exercise his duties as executive producer, which could affect the show. For instance, of the two recent primetime series Michaels produced, 30 Rock, which was produced in New York, had a long and successful run; Up All Night, which filmed in Los Angeles, quickly fell apart.)

As for Fallon’s successor on Late Night, speculation is intensifying that Michaels would once again take a page out of his own playbook and turn to SNL for a new recruitment with Weekend Update host Seth Meyers. With no obvious outside candidates and limited time to groom someone for the job, Meyers, who has a ton of experience having hosted Weekend Update since 2006, appears the logical choice though he doesn’t have the boy next door appeal Fallon has.

Weekend Update has become arguably the biggest star-making machine on television for those handpicked by Michaels to sit behind the anchor desk. Since 2000, it has produced one late-night talk show host (Fallon), one rumored to join him (Meyers) and two TV series and film stars, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

Among the four of them, they have hosted the Emmys (Fallon), the Golden Globes (Fey & Poehler) and the White House Correspondents Dinner (Meyers). So forget about The Tonight Show and Late Night. The biggest question is who would succeed Meyers on Weekend Update.

Sam Miguel
03-26-2013, 08:53 AM
French 'Survivor' season canceled following death of contestant in Cambodia

March 25, 2013, 12:24 PM EST

By Rhonda Richford, The Hollywood Reporter

The Hollywood Reporter -- Production of the French "Survivor" adaptation "Koh-Lanta" has been stopped and the series canceled for the 2013 season following the death of a contestant during filming in Cambodia.

Channel TF1 and production company Adventure Line Productions (ALP) jointly made the decision to cancel the season. "It is not really a question," said TF1 spokesperson Alexander Petit following the death. "Everyone is being flown back to France. No decision has been made about the long-term continuation of the series."

Gerald Babin, 25, died Friday after suffering cardiac arrest during the first day of filming. After the group jumped from a boat and participated in a tug-of-war, Babin complained of cramps in his arms and was given medical attention at the scene by the staff doctor before being airlifted by helicopter to a nearby hospital. He suffered a series of cardiac arrests during the transfer before reaching the facility, the companies said.

"Adventure Line Productions, TF1 and [host] Denis Broginart are devastated and join in the profound sadness of Gerald's family," the channel said in a statement. TF1 has flown Babin's family to Cambodia to recover his body.

ALP said that all candidates had received extensive medical examinations and testing as part of the selection process.

The French version of "Survivor" has been a consistent hit for channel TF1, with a high of 8 million viewers and 40 percent share in the 2007 season, and an average of 7.4 million viewers and a 29.9 percent share in the 2012 season. Ad rates for the finale were $117,000 for a 30-second spot. After "The Voice," the show is the biggest hit on TF1, and considered the flagship of the channel. Since its debut in 2001, TF1 has aired 12 series and two special all-star editions.

Sam Miguel
03-26-2013, 08:54 AM
CBS apologizes for filming 'Amazing Race' near crashed B-52 in Vietnam

March 25, 2013, 7:17 AM EST

By Todd Cunningham

TheWrap

CBS, under fire from veterans for last week's episode of "The Amazing Race" that featured a segment in Vietnam filmed at the site of a crashed American B-52, opened Sunday's show with an apology.

A billboard read by the program's host, Phil Keoghan, apologized to veterans who served in Vietnam "for being insensitive parts of last week's episode."

Vietnam War veteran and American Legion National Commander James E. Koutz had on Thursday sent a letter to CBS, asking that the network apologize for "its disgraceful slap in the face administered to American war heroes" during a prime-time broadcast of the program, "The Amazing Race" on Sunday, March 17.

In a release, Koutz said, "The show is called 'The Amazing Race,' but I call it 'The Amazing Gall.'"

"In a broadcast reminiscent of Tokyo Rose, reality game show contestants visited a 'B-52 Memorial' in Vietnam, which featured the wreckage of a B-52 bomber shot down during the war. What wasn't shown were the U.S. crewmembers that were killed or the grieving American families that were left behind. The Department of Defense is encouraging Americans to honor and commemorate our Vietnam War veterans for the sacrifice that they made 50 years ago.

"We only wish that the network that once gave us Kate Smith -- famous for her rendition of 'God Bless America' -- would return to its great roots and not be so eager to broadcast anti-American propaganda," said Koutz.

In the episode, contestants go to a B-52 Memorial, which is the wreckage of an American bomber plane shot down during the Vietnam War, to find the next clue in their televised round-the-world journey.

Ira Teinowitz contributed to this report.

Sam Miguel
03-26-2013, 08:57 AM
Top-rated soap 'Young and Restless' marks 40 years

March 25, 2013, 6:13 PM EST

By BETH HARRIS , Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Love, loss, breakups, makeups, murder, mayhem, backstabbing, social climbing. Forget about a lifetime, that's just an afternoon on "The Young and the Restless."

The CBS show, daytime's top-rated soap since December 1988, hits the big 4-0 on Tuesday.

No one from its debut on March 26, 1973 — when it was just 30 minutes long — remains with the show, but Jeanne Cooper arrived six months later and is the longest-tenured cast member in her role as grand dame Katherine Chancellor.

"God knows it's claimed a big part of my life," the 84-year-old actress said, citing good writing and likable characters as reasons for the show's continued success in an era of dwindling daytime audiences, network budget-cutting and the cancellation of other soaps.

"Its foundation was set so well and you had core characters that you could grow and become involved with," Cooper said. "As you got older, they got a year older. Whether you were wealthy or whatever your status is, our show hit the human being."

An influx of new, younger cast members has arrived since last year to stir the pot in Genoa City, Wis.

"It's an important time to start looking toward the future and the next generation," said Angelica McDaniel, senior vice president of daytime for CBS. "We're not going to rest on our laurels because we're No. 1."

Among the newbies is Lamon Archey, who, as Mason Wilder, gets to mix it up with Eric Braeden, now in his 33rd year playing ruthless tycoon Victor Newman.

"I was thrown in with the big dogs," Archey said. "The last thing I wanted to do was mess up my lines or not be on point. He knows what he wants to do. He gets on set and says, 'Let's run this.'"

Angell Conwell plays attorney Leslie Michaelson, who keeps it strictly business with Braeden's character while getting frisky with businessman Neil Winters played by Kristoff St. John.

"It has its intimidating moments, but it forces you to rise to the challenge," said Conwell, who grew up watching the show with her family in South Carolina.

"They want you to do well," Redaric Williams, who plays Conwell's brother Tyler, said about the show's veterans.

Speaking of alpha-male Braeden, he and Nikki Newman, played by Melody Thomas Scott, recently married for the fourth time, giving the couple 27 weddings between them.

Behind the camera, Jill Farren Phelps took over as executive producer last fall after 11 years of overseeing ABC's "General Hospital," which marks its 50th anniversary next month.

"The greatest challenge when I first came in was to respect the history and legacy of this show. We don't make a decision without careful consideration," she said. "The heart of this show are the characters. The soul has always been the storytelling."

In January, Phelps brought in Steve Burton to play war veteran Dylan McAvoy three months after his long run on "General Hospital" had ended in part because he wanted to spend more time with his family in Nashville, Tenn. He commutes to Los Angeles for tapings.

Burton noticed a difference in how soaps are treated at CBS compared to ABC, which cancelled "All My Children" and "One Life to Live."

"'Young and Restless' means as much to CBS as 'CSI' does and that's saying something," he said. "That all starts from the top down."

Although ratings have dipped, there appears little immediate chance that another show will overtake it soon, said Carolyn Hinsey, a veteran chronicler of daytime dramas and author of "Afternoon Delight: Why Soaps Still Matter."

"The average soap today costs about $40 million to produce," she said. "If the network can monetize that with multiple showings, like 'Y&R' did with SOAPnet and CBS.com, then that's a great bang for their buck. There are no more loyal fans than soap fans."

The show is seen daily by an estimated 10 million viewers in such countries as Australia, Canada, France, Romania and South Africa.

McDaniel has been the driving force in keeping the show current by updating the sets, music and wardrobe, while bringing fans closer through video chats, getting the veterans to join their younger cast mates on Twitter, and cross-promoting "Young and Restless" on other CBS daytime shows. The network also airs "The Bold and the Beautiful."

That kind of effort should keep the show going for years to come, Hinsey said.

"ABC was not loyal to its (canceled) soaps, and did not try to monetize them or promote them," she said. "CBS has been very loyal to 'Y&R' and 'B&B,' especially lately. No new show is going to draw the millions of devoted eyeballs daily that 'Y&R' has enjoyed for 40 years."

Head writer Josh Griffin is loath to give away upcoming story lines, but he promises that "we're going to get hotter and sexier and more romantic and suspenseful as the months go by."

Just the thing to while away an afternoon.

Sam Miguel
04-04-2013, 08:32 AM
From the Inquirer online - - -

Shock over second death on hit French reality TV show

April 3, 2013 | 12:28 am

PARIS—The suicide of a doctor on a hit French reality TV show sparked shock on Tuesday, with some blaming media pressure for his death while others urged restrictions on reality programs.

Thierry Costa, a physician on “Koh Lanta” — the French version of “Survivor” — killed himself Monday in Cambodia just over a week after a candidate died on set, citing “unfair accusations” against him in the media.

“I hope the witnesses and websites that published these horrors about the Koh Lanta doctor had a bad night,” @Sarah_IC said on Twitter, one of many who blamed sites and social networks for spreading misinformation about the candidate’s death.

The contestant — 25-year-old Gerald Babin — died of a heart attack on the first day of filming the adventure show on the tropical island of Koh Rong on March 22, prompting French broadcaster TF1 to axe the show’s 2013 season, its 16th.

His death — the first during any French reality TV program — sparked questions about the way the show was run.

One widely used anonymous witness statement published on popular website Arret sur Images questioned Costa’s handling of the candidate’s death, accusing him and the production team of prioritising the show over the victim.

“Koh Lanta” production firm Adventure Line Productions (ALP) has lodged an official complaint for “slander” over the statement.

The two deaths have also sparked a wider debate in France over reality TV shows, which are hugely popular.

“Koh Lanta” — which reaches an average of seven million people every episode — is an adventure program that sees candidates battle it out to survive on an island.

It is just one of several hit reality TV shows in France that touch on topics as varied as the search for talent in “Star Academy”, Big Brother-type voyeurism in “Secret Story” or cooking skills in “Top Chef.”

In a Tuesday interview in Le Parisien newspaper, Jeremie Assous — the lawyer for Babin’s family — hit out at what he said were “many labor code breaches but also breaches in hygiene and security rules” in TV reality shows.

He questioned why there was just one doctor for 150 candidates and production team members working on “Koh Lanta.”

Meanwhile Francoise Laborde — a journalist and member of state media regulator Conseil Superieur de l’Audiovisuel — suggested that reality shows needed to be better monitored.

“We could require them to use a psychologist” who would monitor the mental health of reality TV participants during and after filming, she said on Europe 1 radio.

Several candidates in France have in the past committed or attempted to commit suicide after their reality TV show ended.

In 2011, Francois-Xavier Leuridan — who once took part in “Secret Story” — killed himself aged 22, while Loana Petrucciani, one of France’s first reality TV stars, has attempted suicide several times.

French authorities have already opened a preliminary enquiry into “involuntary homicide” to determine the cause of Babin’s death, although the Cambodian authorities have determined that he died of natural causes.

According to judicial sources, videos shot while the television program was being made will be handed over to police on Tuesday, to help with the investigation.

The show’s candidates and those in charge at ALP will also be questioned by police.

Sam Miguel
04-04-2013, 01:31 PM
Jay Leno leaving ‘Tonight,’ again

By Lisa De Moraes, Apr 04, 2013 02:01 AM EDT

The Washington Post Thursday, April 4, 7:26 AM

For the second time in about four years, Jay Leno is stepping down from NBC’s iconic late-night franchise “The Tonight Show.” This time, he’ll exit in spring 2014 to make way for “Late Night” star Jimmy Fallon.

Fallon will take over sometime after that, the network announced Wednesday, confirming the industry’s worst-kept secret in recent history.

NBC Universal chief executive Steve Burke explained that the timing is intended to mesh with NBC’s broadcast of the Winter Olympic Games from Sochi, Russia, which we swear is the truth and not a gag from an “SNL” skit.

“Saturday Night Live” impresario Lorne Michaels will become executive producer; Debbie Vickers, who has produced the show for the past two decades, will exit along with Leno. And the show will return to its original home at 30 Rock in New York, where it was based until Johnny Carson, “Tonight’s” longest-running host at 30 years, moved it to Burbank in 1972.

“We’re thrilled ‘The Tonight Show’ is returning home to New York City, and it’s the perfect symbol of incredible comeback we’ve worked to create in our city’s film and television industry,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg weighed in Wednesday, followed by a bunch of political “not since the invention of television has so much production been based in our city,” blah, blah, blah — and finally running out of gas with, “and we couldn’t be happier that one of New York’s own is bringing the show back to where it started — and where it belongs.”

There’s no news on Fallon’s “Late Night” replacement at 12:35 a.m. NBC said coyly in its announcement that “programming plans” for the time period are in development and will be announced soon. Under consideration is the return of “The Tonight Show” to its 90-minute format. (“The Tonight Show,” which debuted in 1954, with Steve Allen as host, was cut down to one hour during Carson’s long run.)

“We are purposefully making this change when Jay is number one, just as Jay replaced Johnny Carson when he was number one,” Burke said.

There’s one big difference: Carson shocked NBC suits in 1991 when he announced his retirement at an affiliate conference in New York. That followed news reports that NBC was concerned that Carson (who was in his mid-60s) was losing younger viewers, and that NBC had guaranteed Leno the gig when Carson retired. Leno took over the show in 1992.

Leno, 62, on the other hand, is being told when to step down — again. His contract expires next year.

The other time Leno was informed that he was stepping down as “Tonight” host, it was to make way for then-“Late Night” host Conan O’Brien. NBC announced in fall 2004 that the network negotiated a contract with Conan that promised him he’d replace Leno on “Tonight” in June 2009.

In Wednesday’s announcement, NBC made no mention of Conan by name.

In May 2009, Conan interrupted Leno’s run for seven months, as NBC parked Leno at 10 p.m. weeknights, where he provided Conan with lousy lead-in ratings. Leno, you’ll recall, regained the “Tonight Show” keys after NBC decided to push the Conan-hosted show’s start time to 12:05 a.m. to squeeze Leno back into late night in some newly named half-hour late-night program.

Conan did not sign, however, saying he’d rather walk than see “Tonight” moved to 12:05 a.m. And he did.

Leno is not being moved out because he’s failing in the ratings. This season, “Tonight” is consistently beating ABC and CBS time-slot rivals among the 18- to 49-year-old viewers; Leno is also first among viewers of all ages, regularly attracting an average of 3.5 million.

But Leno is in his 60s. When ABC moved Jimmy Kimmel, 45, to 11:35 p.m. in January, the media began speculating that Kimmel would scoop up all the young viewers in the time slot before Leno’s heir apparent, Fallon, 38, eventually moved into the time period.

Since his debut in the earlier time slot, Kimmel has achieved a slight lead (332,000, on average) over Leno (319,000) among 18- to 34-year-old viewers.

Leno is Kimmel’s favorite punching bag. Kimmel tweeted Wednesday: “congratulations to my dear, sweet @jimmyfallon — a formidable rival and an incredible lover.”

Elsewhere: “How many of you folks earlier today saw the white smoke coming out of the chimney at NBC? Anybody see that?” David Letterman — the guy whom Leno beat out for the “Tonight” gig back when Carson retired — said at the top of his CBS late-night show hours after NBC’s announcement.

“I got a call from my mom today. She says, ‘Well, David, I see you didn’t get ‘The Tonight Show’ again,’ ” Letterman continued. Also: “Good luck to Jay. I know he’ll be out on the road, getting it done and taking care of business and congratulations on a nice, long run there at ‘The Tonight Show,’ if in fact you’re not coming back.”

Interestingly, Fallon — because his humor is broader and sweeter than Conan’s — might be better suited to take over for Leno than was Conan because of his greater appeal to older viewers. When Conan took over “Tonight,” he’d lost a lot of his edge over CBS competitor Craig Ferguson among total viewers.

Since Fallon’s arrival, “Late Night” is once again more consistently beating Ferguson in total viewers.

Leno did not go gently into that good night. In the days leading up to Wednesday’s announcement, he savaged NBC in his monologues. But this week, signaling that an announcement was imminent, he and Fallon teamed for a duet, which became a YouTube sensation, of course.

“Hey kid, how you holding up?” Leno was seen asking Fallon over the phone, just after the camera showed Leno sadly exiting the stage, and Fallon forlornly looking out his office window.

“Okay, I guess. You?” Fallon replied.

“Yeah, I’ll live. I’ve been through this before,” Leno sighed. “Gotta admit, I’m getting a little sick of all of this.”

Fallon looked troubled: “Jay, can I ask you something? We’re still friends, right?”

“Yeah, of course we’re still friends,” Leno assured him.

“That’s good,” Fallon said, relieved.

Cue duet of the “West Side Story” tune “Tonight,” with lyrics rewritten as befitted the occasion.

TV critics hated it — real schmaltz, they scoffed, as they nicked the hip Fallon for having caved to pressure to do the video. Hollywood Reporter’s Tim Goodman, for instance, snarked: “The video isn’t funny. It’s too long. Doesn’t have an ounce of believability and plays like a clip from a Hallmark movie about lovers that’s airing sometime soon on Bravo. And it makes Fallon look like simpering suck-up who sold out because he was probably told to.”

Then came word that it was Fallon’s idea. Oops.

Sam Miguel
04-04-2013, 01:32 PM
Jay Leno leaving ‘Tonight,’ again

By Lisa De Moraes, Apr 04, 2013 02:01 AM EDT

The Washington Post Thursday, April 4, 7:26 AM

For the second time in about four years, Jay Leno is stepping down from NBC’s iconic late-night franchise “The Tonight Show.” This time, he’ll exit in spring 2014 to make way for “Late Night” star Jimmy Fallon.

Fallon will take over sometime after that, the network announced Wednesday, confirming the industry’s worst-kept secret in recent history.

NBC Universal chief executive Steve Burke explained that the timing is intended to mesh with NBC’s broadcast of the Winter Olympic Games from Sochi, Russia, which we swear is the truth and not a gag from an “SNL” skit.

“Saturday Night Live” impresario Lorne Michaels will become executive producer; Debbie Vickers, who has produced the show for the past two decades, will exit along with Leno. And the show will return to its original home at 30 Rock in New York, where it was based until Johnny Carson, “Tonight’s” longest-running host at 30 years, moved it to Burbank in 1972.

“We’re thrilled ‘The Tonight Show’ is returning home to New York City, and it’s the perfect symbol of incredible comeback we’ve worked to create in our city’s film and television industry,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg weighed in Wednesday, followed by a bunch of political “not since the invention of television has so much production been based in our city,” blah, blah, blah — and finally running out of gas with, “and we couldn’t be happier that one of New York’s own is bringing the show back to where it started — and where it belongs.”

There’s no news on Fallon’s “Late Night” replacement at 12:35 a.m. NBC said coyly in its announcement that “programming plans” for the time period are in development and will be announced soon. Under consideration is the return of “The Tonight Show” to its 90-minute format. (“The Tonight Show,” which debuted in 1954, with Steve Allen as host, was cut down to one hour during Carson’s long run.)

“We are purposefully making this change when Jay is number one, just as Jay replaced Johnny Carson when he was number one,” Burke said.

There’s one big difference: Carson shocked NBC suits in 1991 when he announced his retirement at an affiliate conference in New York. That followed news reports that NBC was concerned that Carson (who was in his mid-60s) was losing younger viewers, and that NBC had guaranteed Leno the gig when Carson retired. Leno took over the show in 1992.

Leno, 62, on the other hand, is being told when to step down — again. His contract expires next year.

The other time Leno was informed that he was stepping down as “Tonight” host, it was to make way for then-“Late Night” host Conan O’Brien. NBC announced in fall 2004 that the network negotiated a contract with Conan that promised him he’d replace Leno on “Tonight” in June 2009.

In Wednesday’s announcement, NBC made no mention of Conan by name.

In May 2009, Conan interrupted Leno’s run for seven months, as NBC parked Leno at 10 p.m. weeknights, where he provided Conan with lousy lead-in ratings. Leno, you’ll recall, regained the “Tonight Show” keys after NBC decided to push the Conan-hosted show’s start time to 12:05 a.m. to squeeze Leno back into late night in some newly named half-hour late-night program.

Conan did not sign, however, saying he’d rather walk than see “Tonight” moved to 12:05 a.m. And he did.

Leno is not being moved out because he’s failing in the ratings. This season, “Tonight” is consistently beating ABC and CBS time-slot rivals among the 18- to 49-year-old viewers; Leno is also first among viewers of all ages, regularly attracting an average of 3.5 million.

But Leno is in his 60s. When ABC moved Jimmy Kimmel, 45, to 11:35 p.m. in January, the media began speculating that Kimmel would scoop up all the young viewers in the time slot before Leno’s heir apparent, Fallon, 38, eventually moved into the time period.

Since his debut in the earlier time slot, Kimmel has achieved a slight lead (332,000, on average) over Leno (319,000) among 18- to 34-year-old viewers.

Leno is Kimmel’s favorite punching bag. Kimmel tweeted Wednesday: “congratulations to my dear, sweet @jimmyfallon — a formidable rival and an incredible lover.”

Elsewhere: “How many of you folks earlier today saw the white smoke coming out of the chimney at NBC? Anybody see that?” David Letterman — the guy whom Leno beat out for the “Tonight” gig back when Carson retired — said at the top of his CBS late-night show hours after NBC’s announcement.

“I got a call from my mom today. She says, ‘Well, David, I see you didn’t get ‘The Tonight Show’ again,’ ” Letterman continued. Also: “Good luck to Jay. I know he’ll be out on the road, getting it done and taking care of business and congratulations on a nice, long run there at ‘The Tonight Show,’ if in fact you’re not coming back.”

Interestingly, Fallon — because his humor is broader and sweeter than Conan’s — might be better suited to take over for Leno than was Conan because of his greater appeal to older viewers. When Conan took over “Tonight,” he’d lost a lot of his edge over CBS competitor Craig Ferguson among total viewers.

Since Fallon’s arrival, “Late Night” is once again more consistently beating Ferguson in total viewers.

Leno did not go gently into that good night. In the days leading up to Wednesday’s announcement, he savaged NBC in his monologues. But this week, signaling that an announcement was imminent, he and Fallon teamed for a duet, which became a YouTube sensation, of course.

“Hey kid, how you holding up?” Leno was seen asking Fallon over the phone, just after the camera showed Leno sadly exiting the stage, and Fallon forlornly looking out his office window.

“Okay, I guess. You?” Fallon replied.

“Yeah, I’ll live. I’ve been through this before,” Leno sighed. “Gotta admit, I’m getting a little sick of all of this.”

Fallon looked troubled: “Jay, can I ask you something? We’re still friends, right?”

“Yeah, of course we’re still friends,” Leno assured him.

“That’s good,” Fallon said, relieved.

Cue duet of the “West Side Story” tune “Tonight,” with lyrics rewritten as befitted the occasion.

TV critics hated it — real schmaltz, they scoffed, as they nicked the hip Fallon for having caved to pressure to do the video. Hollywood Reporter’s Tim Goodman, for instance, snarked: “The video isn’t funny. It’s too long. Doesn’t have an ounce of believability and plays like a clip from a Hallmark movie about lovers that’s airing sometime soon on Bravo. And it makes Fallon look like simpering suck-up who sold out because he was probably told to.”

Then came word that it was Fallon’s idea. Oops.

Sam Miguel
05-10-2013, 09:37 AM
Ang Lee excited about TV directing debut with ‘Tyrant’

Agence France-Presse

May 9, 2013 | 6:37 pm

TAIPEI — Oscar-winning Taiwanese-American director Ang Lee said Thursday he is excited to be working on his first TV project “Tyrant,” but dismissed reports he would stay away from movies to focus on television.

“‘Tyrant’ is Middle East intrigue. The subject matter is touchy and pretty scary. I like scary, to scare myself… I am very excited about this project,” Lee told a press conference.

“I am still choosing my next (film) project and developing the next one. Of course movie is my first love,” he said, during his first trip to Taiwan since winning his second Oscar for best director with “Life of Pi.”

“Tyrant,” which is produced by the US cable TV channel FX, centers on “an unassuming American family drawn into the workings of a turbulent Middle East nation,” according to Hollywood Reporter.

Lee, who has spent almost his entire professional career abroad, also won a best director Oscar for the gay cowboy drama “Brokeback Mountain.” His kung fu epic “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” won best foreign language film.

Almost all of Lee’s films have drawn on both Western and Asian culture to depict characters struggling to fit into society, and to live up to the pressures of family and repressive social expectations.

Lee said he has to be “really diligent” in adapting cultures.

“As a non-American filmmaker I cannot assume that I know… I have to be modest and diligent adapting all kinds of cultures,” he said.

The filmmaker, who is based in New York, was hailed as the “glory of Taiwan” after becoming the first Asian to win a best director Oscar for “Brokeback Mountain” in 2007.

Lee is a big supporter of Taiwan’s film industry.

But he said he would not be able to chair the judging committee for the island’s Golden Horse film festival in November, since he needs to wrap up production of “Tyrant” at that time.

Joescoundrel
05-24-2013, 12:55 PM
Court says Willie Revillame 'insensitive,' suspends show anew

By Camille Diola

(philstar.com) | Updated May 24, 2013 - 10:43am

MANILA, Philippines - The Court of Appeals (CA) ruled in favor of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) that suspended TV5's noontime game show Willing Willie over an "obscene" segment.

Associated Justice Manuel Barrios of the appellate court's 2nd Division said in an 11-page decision issued late Thursday that the contested episode that showed a young boy dancing in a raunchy manner while crying was enough material to suspend the popular show for one month.

"A review of the recording of that segment shows a 6-year old boy gyrating like a macho dancer while being cajoled and goaded by the show's host and the audience ... is commonly perceived as transpiring only in night clubs and other shadowy establishments," the decision stated.

The court also called the show host Willie Revillame "insensitive" in encouraging the boy to continue with the performance in exchange for a monetary reward.

"While money has great utility and is beneficial in these times of want, it must never be used as justification to sacrifice good morals, decency, self respect and the psychological well-being of its citizens especially the young," it added.

MTRCB Chairman Eugenio Villareal welcomed the court's decision on Thursday night, saying he hopes the ruling "be instructive" to the television industry.

"May this ... allow the television industry, especially those more directly concerned, to move on and help build an entertainment culture that is truly audience-sensitive and particularly looking out for the welfare of our young," Villareal said in a statement.

MTRCB earlier said in the original suspension ruling that the show "violated a law against immoral and indecent broadcasts that run counter to Filipino values."



The show first faced a 30-day suspension in 2011 sanctioned by then MTRCB chairperson Grace Poe Llamanzares following complaints of children's rights advocates.

The board has deemed Revillame's noontime shows several times in the past even while airing over ABS-CBN to be violative of similar broadcast rules.

Joescoundrel
05-24-2013, 12:58 PM
^ Why does the local showbiz industry put up with this shithead anyway?

It is NOT him! If the show is successful it has nothing to do with him.

Do an experiment, put someone who is actually a nicer guy than he is and who is not even in showbiz, like say me, and let me give money away everyday as my main catch-on.

I GUARANTEE we will retain our viewership and maybe even expand it.

Give money away and it could be the devil himself (or his later ego Revillame in this case) giving it away and people will still tune in.

Sam Miguel
05-28-2013, 08:25 AM
TV5 offers early retirement incentive to curb losses

By Doris C. Dumlao

Philippine Daily Inquirer

6:15 pm | Monday, May 27th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines–TV5 network operator Associated Broadcasting Corp. has offered a generous early retirement package to employees as the Manuel V. Pangilinan (MVP)-led firm affirmed commitment to curb financial hemorrhage and challenge a long-entrenched Philippine broadcasting duopoly.

“TV5 management is offering its employees opting for early retirement a two- month salary per year of service, among other benefits, included in its special limited voluntary retirement package,” the network’s corporate communications team said Monday in a reply to a query from Inquirer.

“All organizations go through a cycle of growth and adjustments and TV5 is similarly going through a transition phase,” TV5 said in its official reply.

The usual separation package in case of redundancy under the country’s Labor Code is only one month per year of service. Doubling the incentive is seen as a way for TV5 to reduce overhead cost by giving its staff an attractive early retirement option. TV5 has a current headcount of 4,000 employees and talents.

TV5, a challenger in the industry dominated by ABS-CBN and GMA-7, also refuted rumors that filing for bankruptcy was an option for MVP.

“On the contrary, MVP reiterated his commitment to TV5 and assured management and employees that he is in it for the long haul. Considering that TV5’s major competitors have been around for decades now, TV5’s growth in these past years has been remarkable and this is due to the work and dedication that management, talents, staff and personnel have invested in the network. In fact, we can look forward to MVP’s more active involvement in TV-5′s operations,” the company said.

Asked about other measures to improve its balance sheet, TV5 said that beyond belt-tightening measures, plans were under way to boost its revenue centers. “Apart from looking at convergence platforms that will enable us to be accessible to audiences both here and abroad, we are also looking at improving our programming,” the company said.

MVP-led Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. group ventured into the broadcasting business in 2009 with a deal to take over a 75-percent stake in ABC from a consortium led by businessman Antonio “Tonyboy” Cojuangco. The acquisition was made through MediaQuest Holdings Inc., a subsidiary of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund, the telecommunication giant’s retirement fund.

Last year, MVP also rekindled moves to acquire GMA Network Inc. which would have given his group a majority market share of the broadcasting market (GMA-7 and TV5 combined) but the talks fizzled out. Since then, the businessman has committed to build up TV5 as a stand-alone business but analysts don’t rule out a return to the negotiating table with GMA7 owners in the future.

“TV5 is theoretically doing the right thing. Given the intensification of industry rivalry, TV5 should be trying to improve or rationalize its cost structure. And this is probably what the early retirement program is trying to achieve,” said Jose Mari Lacson, head of research at local stock brokerage Campos Lanuza & Co.

But Lacson said TV5 would also need to expand market share and this would entail heavy investments in talent and network infrastructure.

“Combining a move to a low-cost structure and heavy investments in talents and network infrastructure is expected to press a heavy burden on the company’s financial position. This strategy of attrition, however, will only work if TV5’s long-term access to capital is greater and longer than peers and if the company is indeed able to capture enough market share to induce price concessions from its competitors,” he said.

Last January, MVP announced plans to pour more cash into TV5 in a bid to grab a larger share of the broadcast advertising pie. For this year, TV5 has budgeted over P6 billion to improve its program lineup and expand nationwide coverage.

The group’s decision to shell out another P6 billion for TV5 was made after the network incurred P2.8 billion in the first half of 2012. The network lost P4.1 billion in 2011, double the level in the previous year.

“If progress is too slow, TV5 may go back to the negotiating board with GMA Network. However, they take the risk that the asking price has risen because of their current financial condition – if they do it now,” Lacson said.

“TV5 may also change strategy and follow a more blue ocean-driven path, which is akin to a niche market strategy. Ultimately it will boil down to PPP: patience, progression of the strategic plan, and of course, the availability of and cost of pera (money),” Lacson said.

Sam Miguel
05-28-2013, 10:11 AM
British wave washes over U.S. media market

By Paul Farhi, Tuesday, May 28, 8:41 AM

The British are coming — actually, they’re already here. And they’re running some of America’s top media and entertainment companies and successfully peddling their shows, newspapers and magazines to the former colonies.

There are so many Brits at the highest echelons of the American news and cultural establishment these days that it’s enough to make a bloke wonder: What’s all this about then?

Honing your talent in the hyper-competitive British home market is one factor: A nation with one-fifth the population of the United States supports three independent national TV networks and more than a dozen national newspapers — broadsheets, “middle-market” tabloids and scandal-mongering “red tops.”

“To compete [in Great Britain], you have to be really sharp,” says Emily Bell, a professor at Columbia’s journalism school. Bell, a British native and former Guardian editor, observes, “There is a more acute tabloid or populist sensibility in much U.K. media, which makes the U.S. offering seem stodgy by comparison. And although the [American] media market is huge, the actual pool of talent at senior levels, crammed into New York City, can feel very small indeed.”

The latest member of the British invasion: Deborah Turness, who was named president of NBC News last week. Turness, the head of Britain’s ITV News, will be the first woman and the second Brit (after CBS’s Howard Stringer in the late 1980s) to oversee the news division of a major American network.

Well, join the club, love.

Last year, the New York Times Co. named Mark Thompson, the former director general of the BBC, Britain’s media crown jewel, as its chief executive. His countryman, Gerard Baker — ex-BBC, ex-Financial Times, ex-Times of London — became the top editor at the Wall Street Journal in December.

The equally British Joanna Coles last year became editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan, the preeminent guide to all the Things that Will Drive Him Wild in Bed. Then there’s Piers Morgan, the former British tabloid journalist who anchors CNN’s signature interview program. And ex-BBC-er Martin Bashir, who hosts an interview show on MSNBC. And Colin Myler, another former British tabloid journalist who is the editor of the New York Daily News.

Shall we prattle on? Oh, yes, let’s.

ABC Entertainment Group President Paul Lee, also formerly with the BBC, has been responsible for selecting the prime-time programming at his network (that would be the American Broadcasting Co.) for the past three years. Yet another Beeb vet, Jon Williams, was hired by ABC News in March to run its international news operations.

Meanwhile, much of America’s reality TV comes from British producers: Mark Burnett (“Survivor,” “The Apprentice,” ‘The Voice”); Nigel Lythgoe and Simon Fuller (“American Idol,” “So You Think You Can Dance”); and Simon Cowell (“American Idol,” “X Factor”).

Of course, the very British Anna Wintour has long edited Vogue magazine and expat Tina Brown edits the Daily Beast and Newsweek (and before that Talk, the New Yorker and Vanity Fair). Brown’s British husband, Harold Evans, once edited Esquire. Another Brit, the Internet entrepreneur Nick Denton, is the force behind such popular Web sites as Gawker and Gizmodo.

At the same time, British-based media outlets such as the BBC, the Guardian, the Financial Times, the Daily Mail and the Economist have slowly expanded in the American market.

Britain and America, of course, have long had close cultural, economic and linguistic ties. Americans have eagerly consumed British writers from Shakespeare to J.K. Rowling, and have embraced Britain’s film, TV and pop stars.

But increasingly, some of the queen’s subjects have been making decisions about what Americans read, see and hear.

American media companies have turned to British talent out of distress, says Dick Meyer, a former CBS and NPR news executive who is the executive producer of the BBC’s American news operations.

“The news business has been so hard-pressed in this country for the past few years that it’s no surprise that you’re seeing some unconventional choices,” Meyer says. “The business is changing so fast. Who knows if the unconventional choices are better than the conventional ones. But it’s an understandable choice.”

The bottom line also comes into play, Bell notes. “If you accept the general premise that the product in TV news is better or as good [in Britain] and the salaries are lower, why wouldn’t you look in the [British] market?”

Bell compares the current British wave to the Australian media incursion into Great Britain in the 1980s. Led by Rupert Murdoch, the Aussie media baron who eventually became an American citizen, Australians took a number of top jobs on Fleet Street and in British television.

The “British-ization” of the American media may be most pronounced at Myler’s New York Daily News. The Web site Capital New York noted that Myler had “put some punch back” in the paper since his arrival but also asked, “On the other hand, how many pictures of half-naked women or Midwest weird-crime stories . . . can a working-class New York tabloid stomach before it starts to feel more like The Daily Mail than, well, a working-class New York tabloid?”

British media executives may be particularly attractive in an era when the Internet is leveling national boundaries, says Peter Horrocks, director of the BBC’s Global News Service in London. In this, the Brits had a head start, he points out: As the progenitors of a globe-spanning colonial empire, the British were global players long before there was such a thing as “globalization.”

“We’ve had to be an outward-looking nation for many years,” Horrocks says. “We can no longer impose ourselves on others with military power. We have to earn our way on our wits. U.K. news brands think globally.” The government-supported BBC is the world’s largest broadcaster, with more than 23,000 employees.

So what can Brits teach Americans? Horrocks has a ready answer: “A world view. Competitiveness. Hunger. Irony.”

But the question might be reversed as well. There are few Americans of any prominence in Britain’s media and entertainment establishment. Why hasn’t the tide flowed in the opposite direction?

Andrew Sullivan, the pioneering blogger (and a former editor of the New Republic magazine), thinks some of it may be “a tribute to American openness and a generous attitude toward ability. I don’t think you’re going to see the British asking an American to edit” one of its leading newspapers or magazines.

The British-born Sullivan believes that “nationalism and class” — essentially British snobbery — play some part in this. But it’s also because the British know far more about American history, popular culture and politics than Americans know about Great Britain’s, both because American politics is important to Britons and because of the ubiquity of American-made movies, music and TV programs.

“The truth is, the British have a very small culture,” Sullivan says. “Its politics and culture require a level of immersion that no American is really exposed to in detail, as opposed to Britons, who knows quite a bit about America.”

Of course, Sullivan acknowledges another, simpler explanation for British successes in America:

“The horrible fact is that Americans hear a British accent and think the British are more intelligent,” he says. “This still endures even though we’ve proven we’re crap at so many things.”

Sam Miguel
05-29-2013, 08:28 AM
Gang-rape joke went too far, says news anchor Jessica Soho

By Emmie G. Velarde

Philippine Daily Inquirer

May 28, 2013 | 7:34 pm

MANILA, Philippines—The network wars just got personal.

On Tuesday, GMA 7 vice president for news programs and news anchor Jessica Soho slammed comedian Jose Marie Viceral—more popularly known as Vice Ganda—a talent of rival network ABS-CBN, for a “cruel” joke the latter made about her during his recent concert.

Soho told the Inquirer by phone Tuesday she had taken more than a week to decide whether or not to take action after receiving reports of the sexist slur. “I’m happy that I moved on rather quickly, but other people have started speaking out in my defense.”

In a text statement, Soho said “I thank all those who shared my hurt and expressed their support…this should [no longer] be about me but about rape victims who suffer tremendously from this horrible crime.”

On May 17, during the packed concert titled “I Vice Ganda Mo Ako sa Araneta” at the Big Dome, Viceral staged a whole segment about unlikely celebrities becoming bold stars.

The segment, uploaded on YouTube in its entirety, included jokes about Soho, the only GMA 7 personality among ABS-CBN stars (Boy Abunda, Kris Aquino, Gus Abelgas and Kim Atienza) “roasted.”

Should Soho start making sexy movies, Viceral said, the pivotal scene should be a gang rape. This followed a joke—and was followed by another—about Soho’s weight.

“I could let the fat jokes go,” Soho told the Inquirer earlier. “But he had to go so far.”

On Tuesday morning on his dzBB radio show, “One on One with Igan,” Arnold Clavio ranted, directly addressing Viceral: “Why victimize serious people who have serious jobs (Soho is an award-winning broadcaster)? You shouldn’t be using them just to make others laugh. Why don’t you just do that to your colleagues over at ABS-CBN?”

TV5’s InterAkson.com joined the fray, posting Viceral’s Jessica jokes in full, and supporting Clavio’s position that Viceral had “bullied” Soho.

Sought for comment, a top-ranking ABS-CBN executive told the Inquirer by phone that the network wasn’t sure it should get involved. Besides, the executive said, it had been 11 days since the concert at Smart Araneta Coliseum. “Why are they doing this only now—and isn’t it curious that all the complaints so far are coming from their (GMA 7’s) news people?”

From Viceral’s camp, road manager Russ Samson sent the Inquirer a text message at press time saying they were still waiting for the comedian’s “go-signal” to issue a statement or clarification.

Read the full story on Wednesday’s print edition of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Joescoundrel
05-30-2013, 10:53 AM
‘Two and a Half Men’ adding series regular — Charlie Harper’s love child

By Lisa de Moraes

“Two and a Half Men” will look more “My Three Dads” next season.

A young-ish chick is being added to the cast of the longrunning CBS comedy series, as a series regular — the previously unknown love-child of Charlie Harper (Charlie Sheen). She shows up at Harper’s house, though Dad’s dead and the house is now owned by Ashton Kutcher’s Walden Schmidt. The new girl will move in with Walden and her uncle Alan (Jon Cryer) who is Walden’s permanent house guest.

Sheen, of course, is the gift that keeps on giving to “Men,” since being tossed after famously describing the show as a “pukefest” during a feud with creator Chuck Lorre and Warner Bros. studio in 2011.

Interest in the show was at an all-time high in the fall of ’11 and 29 million people tuned in to see Sheen’s character hit by a train and Ashton Kutcher’s character brought onboard. That was the biggest season-debut crowd for any scripted TV show on any network since 2005.

Then there were the cost savings. Before being sacked, Sheen was earning about $2 million an episode. Returning this season, Kutcher reportedly is being paid about $700,000 per episode.

And now, turns out, Sheen’s character was hiding a love child all these years, who will step in to fill the void left by the sort-of departure of Angus T. Jones’s character, Jake — Charlie Harper’s nephew.

Jones, who had been one of the highest paid teen actors on TV, has been busted down to “recurring” status on the show. Jones will spend his free time attending college, and mulling the financial repercussions of taking a page from the Charlie Sheen School of Self-Destruction, in which you beg viewers to “please stop watching” the show and “filling your head with filth.”’

Jones subsequently issued a statement saying he could not address “everything that has been said, or right every misstatement or misunderstanding” about his comments on the TV series.

Possible because Jones could not find any — hard to say you were mis-quoted or taken out of context when your comments about the TV series that made you rich and famous were in a video posted to YouTube by the Alabama-based church Forerunner Chronicles.

But Jones gave it the old college try. He insisted he’d never intended his suggestion people not watch this filthy show to “reflect me showing indifference to, and disrespect of, my colleagues and a lack of appreciation of the extraordinary opportunity of which I have been blessed.”

Sam Miguel
05-31-2013, 08:42 AM
Gov’t body censures Vice Ganda over ‘tasteless’ rape jokes

INQUIRER.net

May 30, 2013 | 6:27 pm

MANILA, Philippines —The Philippine government’s policy-making body on women and gender equality on Thursday expressed “grave concern” over Vice Ganda’s “tasteless and revolting rape jokes.”

“Rape jokes hurt women who are suffering or may have suffered from the trauma of rape. It is not a laughing matter,” the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) said in a statement.

It was referring to Vice Ganda’s joke made before a packed arena audience on May 17, making fun of veteran broadcast journalist Jessica Soho’s heavy weight, saying that if she were a bold star in a movie she had to be gang-raped.

“We express our grave concern over the tasteless and revolting rape jokes, which Vice Ganda jested during his May 17 concert at the Araneta Coliseum,” the PCW said, adding it condemns human rights violations and trivializing rape and other forms of abusive behavior.

“Rape jokes hurt women who are suffering or may have suffered from the trauma of rape. It is not a laughing matter,” it said.

Ganda has apologized to Soho, vice president for news programs of GMA Network. Soho said she hopes his apology was sincere.

“As I’ve said, this is not about me, but about the issue of rape not being an appropriate subject matter for comedy. Rape transcends age, economic class, gender — and even one’s weight,” Soho said in a statement.

According to the National Statistics Office, nearly one out of 10 women aged 15-49 has experienced sexual violence.

But the PCW noted that “many rape cases go unreported because victims are shamed and rape is trivialized.”

“The repercussions of rape jokes are serious and damaging. In the pursuit of humor, women’s and even men’s vulnerabilities are exploited. Victim-survivors once more recount their horrible experiences and relive the pain,” it said.

The commission called on public figures not to glorify rape as it asked workers in entertainment and media to censor themselves when talking about abuse.

“Let us not glorify rape or perpetuate the idea that rape victims are responsible for their own attacks,” it said.

Sam Miguel
05-31-2013, 08:43 AM
Willie Revillame’s woes over ‘macho dancing’ kid continue

By Jeannette I. Andrade

Philippine Daily Inquirer

May 30, 2013 | 6:39 pm

MANILA, Philippines—After two years, controversy still hounds TV host Willie Revillame over a gameshow episode that turned a tearful six-year-old boy into a reluctant “macho dancer.’’

A Quezon City court is set to hear a child abuse case against Revillame for allegedly “exploiting the vulnerability of a minor” during a segment of the March 12, 2011 edition of his now defunct TV5 show ‘’Willing Willie.’’

Pursued by the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Council for the Welfare of Children, the case was raffled off Monday to QC Regional Trial Court Branch 86, under Judge Roberto Buenaventura.

In a May 17 resolution, prosecutor Benjamin Samson said he found probable cause to charge Revillame with violating the Anti-Child Abuse Act, saying the celebrity, who “should have been prudent” in dealing with a minor, “unwittingly exposed (the boy) to mockery and humiliation.”

Shortly after the Willing Willie episode aired, a clip of the segment went viral and caused an uproar as it showed the TV host coaxing the boy to do sexually suggestive dance moves a la macho dancer. The boy was seen crying as he did what he was told.

According to the complaint, the boy was made to perform the same dance five times during the show.

Samson, however, cleared the other respondents from TV5, namely the network’s board chairman, Manuel V. Pangilinan; president and chief executive officer Ray Espinosa; executive vice president and chief operating officer Roberto Barreiro; Willing Willie director Jojo Jardeleza; the show’s executive producer Rackie Sevilla; and segment producer Adrian Gret.

In his counter-affidavit, Revillame maintained that Willing Willie was a wholesome, family-oriented show and that he had no participation in the audition of contest participants.

He also explained that the boy cried because he got scared of one of the co-hosts, the towering Bonel Balingit, a former professional basketball player.

Revillame insisted that there was nothing obscene, immoral or malicious in the boy’s dance performance, which he called the “body wave,” and that the boy’s parents themselves had stated that they found nothing abusive about it.

But Samson noted that while Revillame did not take part in the audition for studio contestants, he had full control of what went on in the show itself. “Clearly the totality of events that transpired during the show reveals that Revillame directly participated and was responsible in committing child abuse,” he said.

MrM
06-05-2013, 02:51 PM
At least in cyberspace, the aftermath of Season 3 Episode 9 of Game of Thrones has been spectacular. Even RR Martin anticipated this.

Sam Miguel
06-06-2013, 08:41 AM
‘Vicious Ganda’

By Romeo D. Bohol

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:41 pm | Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

There she is on YouTube, ABS-CBN’s president and chief executive officer laughing at the disgusting jokes of the clown who calls himself Vice Ganda.

It’s the smoking gun in a case I wish to file in the court of public opinion that the Philippines’ largest news and entertainment network has become a purveyor of very bad taste. It’s a very important point being missed in all this outrage over the clown’s making fun of Jessica Soho’s body size and the color of Nancy Binay’s skin.

Jessica Soho was right when she said that the storm of indignation stirred up by the clown’s distasteful jokes should not be about her anymore but about rape victims. But with Charo Santos-Concio having the time of her life at the expense of plus-size women and rape victims—and the footage out there for the whole wired world to click on and see—it’s not even about the clown anymore. It’s now about the quality of comedy she finds funny, and therefore about the quality of the news being reported and the entertainment being dished out by the company she heads.

She might as well have issued an executive memo saying sleaze is okay. That it’s fine by top management for Noli de Castro to editorialize the news he reads with snide remarks or a smirk. That it’s all right again for their variety-show hosts to make a contest of how far they can throw little people, as they did some time ago.

And if that’s not enough endorsement of sleaze, here’s another, from advertisers. Despite the storm now swirling around the clown, three of the most reputable corporations in the world are still advertising in his noontime show.

And then there are the network owners. Their silence on the matter is deafening. But silence is a vacuum that human nature abhors, so it fills it with imaginings. The cynical may think: “Why should they care about their employees’ decencies as long as they keep raking in the money?” And the credulous, this: “Surely reprimands have already been given, but privately. There’s no call for a public rebuke.”

Me, I’ll settle for these words of the late Eugenio Lopez Sr. to fill their silence: “The old business tenets have given way to the modern concept, which is not based on profits alone, but rather on the service it can render and the contribution it can make to the prosperity and the progress of the nation as a whole.”

On Facebook, I’m told, the clown has been renamed “Vicious Ganda.” The vicious is patent, but I don’t see the ganda. That I see in those beautiful words, which serve as wrapping for ABS-CBN’s newscasts and shows: touching lives, better future, not based on profits alone, contribution to the progress of the nation, and as a bow, Kapamilya.

It’s an excellent brand for a broadcast network’s programming, Kapamilya. It invites empathy and evokes wholesomeness. But when tied on a box of sleaze, this ganda word turns vicious—like a Venus flytrap, so pretty and so deadly. Or like the sizzle of cholesterol-rich steak, if you’ll allow me a senior’s simile. Except that cholesterol merely clogs up arteries, and sleaze warps the values of our society.

Weeks ago I heard two of my grandchildren snickering at certain people at a mall, and that, I confess, is the reason I can’t let this matter pass without comment. When I asked them why, they said the other people’s clothes were inappropriate for malling. I told them their snickering was much, much more inappropriate than the most ridiculous clothes a maller could wear. And they looked at me with baffled eyes.

It took some time to dawn on me that making fun of other people is grist for the mill in variety shows, and not only on ABS-CBN. It might even have merely borrowed that type of humor from GMA 7, whose noontime variety show used to beat theirs in viewership for many years. Both stations have made comedy out of someone’s unfortunate taste in clothes and makeup and such—and drama out of someone’s misfortunes in life, which is more reprehensible.

And viewers love it, and the money keeps rolling in from advertisers. But if that’s the reason broadcast networks keep serving up television schadenfreude, why stop there? There’s much more money in Internet porn.

In the end, of course, it’s the parents who are responsible and accountable for the values imbibed by their children. But what can a parent do? What parent can always find the time to watch a PG-rated show with their child, not to mention that variety shows are not even rated that? Banning TV-watching altogether would only open a whole new can of other value issues, as well as emotional ones. Imagine your children being unable to join their classmates’ conversations about this child star or that action hero!

Passing stricter censorship laws will not do either. The lawmaking process will only be entangled in freedom-of-speech issues, besides turning into a whole new comedy show. Imagine the kind of lawmakers we have legislating good taste and morality and societal values!

In the end, parents—and our society as a whole—can rely only on the decency of the person who runs the broadcast station. And if she’s someone who finds rape jokes hilarious, we can only appeal to the decency of her boss.

No, it’s not about the clown anymore, nor about ABS-CBN only, but the whole broadcast industry. Fecal matter is fecal matter and there’s nothing it can do about that. The fault, dear brute, is not flushing it just because people find it funny and advertisers are lining up.

Romeo D. Bohol is a retired advertising copywriter.

Sam Miguel
08-06-2013, 09:55 AM
ABS-CBN barely ahead in ratings game, says GMA Network

By Doris C. Dumlao

Philippine Daily Inquirer

7:42 pm | Sunday, August 4th, 2013

Broadcasting giant ABS-CBN Corp. claimed to dominate national television ratings in July while rival GMA Network Inc. said the former’s lead had thinned to a hairline.

Citing a Kantar Media survey covering urban and rural homes, “Kapamilya” ABS-CBN claimed the top spot in the ratings game in July with a nationwide audience share of 42 percent against “Kapuso” GMA’s 34 percent.

Based on data compiled by Nielsen, GMA said it had significantly reduced ABS-CBN’s lead in the national urban television audience scale to a mere 0.1 percent as it posted a 34.4-percent share in July. In the same survey, “Kapatid” TV5 accounted for 12.1-percent market share.

ABS-CBN and GMA both claim that the rating firms each network espouses is more reliable than the other.

In a statement, ABS-CBN claimed to have a lock on the primetime block despite GMA’s new offerings. ABS-CBN recorded an audience share of 47 percent against GMA’s 33 percent.

Primetime, which runs from 6 p.m. until midnight, is said to be the most important time block when most Filipinos watch TV. Advertisers buy up the most airtime during the time block to reach more consumers.

The top three most watched programs were: “Maalaala Mo Kaya” with a national TV rating of 35.4 percent, followed by “Juan Dela Cruz” with 34.9 percent and “Wansapanataym” with 32.2 percent. In fourth place was “The Voice of the Philippines” with 29 percent.

Among news programs, Kantar data showed that “TV Patrol” had the highest national rating of 28.7 percent against the 18.5 percent share of “24 Oras.”

In a separate statement, GMA said it maintained its dominance in the afternoon block, citing a 35.6-percent total day audience share—1.9 points higher than its performance the previous month. It also reported improved ratings in the morning block by 3.8 points to 31.5 percent this July, and in the coveted primetime block by 3.3 points to 34.8 percent, based on Nielsen data.

GMA also said it had reinforced its leadership in viewer-rich Urban Luzon and Mega Manila, where it scored substantial margins over rival networks, based on Nielsen data.

In Urban Luzon, which accounts for 76 percent of the total urban TV households in the country, the Nielsen survey showed that GMA had recorded an average total day audience share of 38.6 percent in July ahead of ABS-CBN’s 30.4 percent and TV5’s 11.6 percent.

Across all timeblocks in Urban Luzon, GMA said it dominated the list of top programs in the area with 18 out of 30 shows.

Joescoundrel
08-12-2013, 03:50 PM
Where I Was From: The O.C., 10 Years Later

On the tenth anniversary of the most important show of the last decade—yes, it's true—one CA native looks back on the show's impact on the television landscape and Southern California itself...

By Daniel Riley

August 7, 2013

Ten years ago this week, Fox premiered a teen drama set in Newport Beach, California—a wealthier, more singular and swaddled fret of coastline than the proximate (to LAX, to Hollywood) Los Angeles County towns where the show was really shot. I grew up in those towns: Manhattan Beach (soundstages), Redondo Beach (on-location exteriors), Palos Verdes (The Model Home, etc.). I was 16 when Seth and Ryan and Marissa and Summer were 16 (at least the first time they were 16), and I conflate high school memories with scenes from season one. Later, in college, I gave tours of shooting locations to out-of-town friends and to girls I suspected might like seeing The Bait Shop, or the chapel where Julie and Caleb got hitched, or the public high school to which Marissa was relegated at the start of season three—my high school. Though these spots were not technically Newport, they all meant to suggest the same thing on the show: that there were, in fact, people living in nice parts of Southern California that were not Hollywood, not the Valley, not 90210 or Melrose Place. That these places were even weirder, maybe more essentially Californian, than those familiar ones and possibly more into themselves—full-headed with a beach-blond teenager's self-regard. They were places with crisp, unblemished ego. Southern California without the shadows of L.A. noir or the wear of the movie industry. Southern California with fresher paint, better light.

First thing I heard about the show was from my best friend, who, as a rising senior in our high school's "video" program, had scored an internship at the local studio. "This show I'm working on," he said one afternoon at Chili's, where I worked, "has got some babes." After filming a bundle of seven episodes, those babes—Mischa Barton (Marissa) and Rachel Bilson (Summer)—spent an afternoon handing out promo materials at the Hermosa Beach Pier Plaza. Same with the young male leads—Benjamin McKenzie (Ryan), Adam Brody (Seth), Chris Carmack (Luke)—each of whom were competitively unknown. Even series creator Josh Schwartz, an East Coast transplant and USC film grad who at 26 had become one of the youngest-ever executive producers of a network show, took part in the low-yield outreach. The show seemed fun but pretty small. We knew something of what was coming—that beach-city-dwelling teenagers from Santa Barbara to San Diego were to have a mirror held up Tuesdays at 9—but did anyone else, anywhere else, care?

I watched the premiere alone on vacation in the mountains, a long way from the beach and the ecstatic viewing parties that would come later. As a refresher: Ryan Atwood is caught abetting brother Trey with a carjacking. Trey goes to jail, but Ryan is brought home to Newport by his surfing super-lawyer, Sandy Cohen. Sandy's wife, Kirsten, isn't into it, but squirrely-loner-son Seth finds in Ryan an unlikely companion. After a night in the pool house, and some sparked-up exchanges with Cohen neighbor Marissa, we move from this fund-raiser fashion show to a party down on the beach. Before Ryan gets in his first fight (he'd get in twenty-two, all told) and before Luke says, "Welcome to the O.C., bitch!" (line of lines, the show's instantly adopted tag), we're given something even better. Ryan sponges up the party and its flamingo-necked cocktails and its slinky beach bunnies in shorts and bikini tops. And then he does this wordless eyebrow thing he'd do a thousand times over the course of the series' four seasons, somewhere between "Are you kidding me?" and "I look like CINDERELLA MAN." He turns to Marissa, archly assessing the room—Ryan was increasingly less cool every episode following the pilot—and says: "I think I could get in less trouble where I'm from."

"Where I'm From" was Chino, which was metonymic shorthand for Worst Place Ever. Chino is a real city—east of Newport, sixty miles from the beach, totally fine—that was made to look like a prison yard of 36,000. Real Chino wasn't stoked; city officials chipped back for the portrayal as a "dirtbag town." But "Chino" served as counterweight to the equally cartoonish "Newport"—which upon reviewing, is a more toxic place than I remember it ten years ago. Brutishly classist. Fantastically solipsistic. Not much interest in life beyond the bubble. The show has a moral compass, but its needle spins carefree, which is really for the better. Newport was the show's best character—the best looking, the most fun, the one with all the lures and traps. She was real in all the important ways and unreal in the ways that made good television.

The O.C.'s Newport predicted the coming of a gross shift to those places I grew up in—an influx of supreme wealth and entitlement that has displaced many of the dead or old (middleish-class) people who moved there in the '50s and '60s. (It's basically the same turn that's happened in Atlantic Coast places like Montauk: A low-glam beach town consumed wholly, maybe inevitably, by the ethos of Caleb Nichol, Julie Cooper, and The Hamptons Thing [a.k.a. Newport East Thing.]) Today the cities in the South Bay resemble The O.C.'s "Newport" more than ever. But in 2003, there was still something reasonable about the South Bay and even sort of likable about the "Newport" on TV—a fake place that could pantomime the look and feel of life in a Southern California coastal town.

Viewers probably hadn't seen that part of California in pop culture since the summer episodes of Saved by the Bell, or maybe even Point Break. The O.C. was this keyhole, in a door no one had much wondered about, behind which millions of viewers gathered weekly to peer through squint-eyed. Are the water-polo players really campus kings? Are there truly no covered hallways in the high schools? Surf racks fit atop lifted trucks? Even the nerds skateboard?! This was an awesome thing. A prime-time Fox melodrama made veracious and immoderately watchable by little details like those plain-sight secrets that we who had never lived elsewhere took for granted. This was fun for us. Even more fun it seems, looking back, for those living elsewhere—that you'd tasted that stuff and liked it.

Joescoundrel
08-12-2013, 03:52 PM
^ Continued

Five episodes had already aired by the time my senior year of high school started. As far as my friends and I were concerned, we were the only ones watching. We knew Ryans, but we were mostly Seths. We'd been neighbors with Marissas since elementary school—but not much more. For the last couple years of high school, we'd had our eyes on Summers (and mostly dated Annas), but this was a new year, the last year. I'd been dumped at the beginning of the summer—blubbered around for a couple months, tried to bump into her accidentally at the ice cream shop where she scooped (in, yep, a bikini top)—and hadn't really come close to digging myself out by August. Then, though: first look at Marissa and Summer—who to my 16-year-old mind represented the spectrum of female possibility. (That is, one was a tall blonde with Eastern-Bloc bones that popped at her cheeks and collar, the other a short brunette whose hands were never not on her hips.) All at once I was doing okay. That's where it started, I guess.

Holy shit, that first season! My friends and I got together to watch in small groups. But elsewhere, it turned out, you gathered en masse. Look back in your yearbooks, full pages devoted to student-submitted photos of O.C. viewing parties. This was different from watching Friends, or whatever else was on in 2003. And also different from watching Grey's Anatomy or Mad Men or Breaking Bad later, which came to be occasion for their own get-togethers, and now basically seem better on a bender—House of Cards model. But with The O.C., there was still only one way. This was feverishly-tended-to appointment television in the golden moment before Hulu and Netflix streaming.

For two and a half seasons, people paid attention. And those young actors and actresses became big-time in a way that foreshadowed the emblematic, tabloidy web worship that would cling to every semi-successful teen show to come. Where the character/actor lines blur in the news; where the writers of the show embrace those blurred lines. Midway through the third season things turned hard. The kids had to start thinking about college, leaving, blowing the storytelling convenience of a high school situation. Many of the roles—even first-season principles like Luke—were rewritten so many times that they all sort of swapped places or grew to resemble one another; basically, every character became Seth. Talking solely in ironic cultural references, acting at all times gooberishly charming, full-out hate-loving Newport. The O.C. seemed not at all interested in keeping the train on the tracks but instead devoted itself to creating, in its derailment, the most spectacular-looking fireball. And yet even as the show stumbled into self-parody, there appeared a suggestion that a long tail of legacy might roll out. New shows were cropping up, playing off The O.C.'s popularity. Which in many ways was the new popularity of the place. Some of those shows had direct ties, and others seemed to have emerged from nowhere in particular. But to see the qualities The O.C. sparked as a cornerstone for several different strands of mass-influence television this past decade, go on and trace the lines:

+ Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County—the first heavily scripted reality show of its sort. Shot with high-def digital cameras in order to look filmic. Buttery tubes and rock outcroppings conducive to heavy conversations and Stephen and LC.

+ From Laguna Beach to The Hills, Lauren Conrad's spin-off to Hollywood. Where we were gifted Heidi and Spencer.

+ And, as piggy-back-bonus, Spencer's old friend from Malibu, Brody Jenner. Who as it turned out was the son of Bruce Jenner, step-father to the Kardashian Three—who will, in this model, typify that swirl of accelerating disorder Jeff Goldblum demonstrates with that water-on-the-hand thing in Jurassic Park, the shitstorm predicted by "chaos theory." That is: The O.C. wrought all that.

+ And even more directly, this: When an end was in sight, Josh Schwartz pitched The O.C., but in New York. Wow wow wow, the months leading in to Gossip Girl. Fans were not just restless for a follow-up to The O.C., but primed by a best-selling series of young-adult books, too. It was in all ways the opposite of the silent start of The O.C.—except for the fact that the characters and cast were one-to-one O.C. analogs, down to hair color and social status.

+ The shows that tailed Gossip Girl were familiar types, too: a reality tie-in (NYC Prep); a post-high-school, how-to-make-it-in-the-fashion-industry-without-a-college-degree Hills spin-off (The City); and a half-baked E! thing where the Kardashians closed the circuit—bending, as basic life forms do, back toward the light—with their arrival to New York. I think I could get in less trouble where I'm from. It was the chorus of a generation of TV viewers hooked on the premise: Look at these cracked-out sort-of-rich people!

+ Further: Chart the influence of the indie-music thing from The O.C. How it became a supreme destination for new bands, a standard of taste to be marketed and sold the morning after an episode aired. Evidence that a show could break musicians into the mainstream.

+ Or how about the style of intra-referential, hyper-self-conscious writing—making jokes about itself before anyone else could; alluding to real-life, actor-not-character events beyond the confines of the show? The sort of writing we came to see in Community, and 30 Rock, and Glee. It's not like Dan Harmon and Tina Fey were waiting for Josh Schwartz to show them it was possible to make that kind of scripted TV, but it was, for many fans, the first place we fell for the effect. (Remember The Valley? The show-within-a-show on The O.C. that had Ryan and Seth and Marissa and Summer parroting all the things fans of The O.C. were saying about them? That was pretty gnarly.)

+ And finally: The Real Housewives of Orange County. Without The O.C. there is no Vicky Gunvalson. Without Vicky Gunvalson, Bravo and Andy Cohen are not in our homes every night. And without Andy Cohen in our homes every night...

Joescoundrel
08-12-2013, 03:53 PM
^ Continued

Before we leave it behind, let's drop back to the first breakdown of The Gossip Girl Effect. A 2008 New York magazine cover sold the story as: "What Gossip Girl gets right about New York." It was a way of assessing the show that would become plenty familiar to readers of New York's longstanding GG recaps. (The essay's authors designed the recaps as a scoreboard of verisimilitude—a reality index.) It's no coincidence that that's also the metric that argues most affirmatively for the legacy of The O.C. No matter how hyperreal the show's caricatures and frosted sunlight (it is a place, as people who have visited know, of hyperreal caricatures and frosted sunlight), the relevance and the rightness were in the details.

Things like: That every adult works in real estate. That dads dress like 12-year-old grommets. That Hollywood is pretty close but also impossibly distant. That volleyball players do better for themselves than football and basketball stars. That Tijuana is the first place 16-year-olds come up with for a road trip. That rich blonde girls find something in L.A. punk rock that just really speaks to them. That most of the adults weren't born there; that most of the kids are first-generation homegrown. That California exceptionalism burns most brightly not with a high school senior in Iowa, but among the California kids living it every day. (Just listen to the lyrics of the surf-rock thing going on right now—or bands like Rooney and The Thrills, both of whom performed on the show.) That teenagers cannot fathom life in another state—as in Marissa, S1E2: "[He's living] in Texas?" That bonfires exist. That magazines like Newport Living exist. That water polo is the sine qua non of the whole condition.

Fox aired a season two prime-time special, The O.C.: Obsess Completely (!), my third week of college on the East Coast. (This was a school, I just learned, credited for teaching the first course on The O.C.) I was one of just a few from my area, disoriented like someone from Chino at a Newport party, amongst the polos and Frisbees and O.A.R. of everywhere-but-CA 18-year-olds. (Welcome to That Part Between the Mid-Atlantic and the South, bitch!) The things I liked about home felt far away, and a lack of fluency in summer camps and prep schools and New Jersey left me feeling more alone than I probably ever have, before or since. But there, in the common room, they'd gathered. These girls—mostly girls—from sacred-sounding places, with probably really old rocks, called Bedford and Brookline and Bethesda, Wiki-ing off plot details, reminding each other what had happened in that season finale long ago. I sat, half-committed, on the arm of a sofa, and watched as the special—Adam and Ben and Mischa and Rachel edited into overnight objects of delirium—played out, and my dormmates leaned into the glow, mainlining Califoooornniaaa as if it were something critical and sustaining. I guess I was looking for someone who spoke my language. Which, as it turns out, was less about tracking down new friends from Southern California than finding a handful of people who just really dug the show. They said their names and asked me where I was from, and I think I pointed, like a dipshit, to the TV. Still, somebody was impressed. I told her I'd give her a tour of the spots if she ever came out. In my memory, it was received as a really good idea—a trip to this place that was easy to idolize, and even to miss. The whole world, it seemed, had been made to understand.

Read More http://www.gq.com/entertainment/movies-and-tv/

Joescoundrel
09-05-2013, 11:03 AM
‘Eat Bulaga,’ ‘The Ryzza Mae Show’ violate ‘dignity of the child’—MTRCB

By Bayani San Diego Jr., Marinel R. Cruz, Kristine Angeli Sabillo

INQUIRER.net, Philippine Daily Inquirer

September 5, 2013 | 6:22 am

MANILA, Philippines—The Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) on Wednesday ordered the producers of GMA 7 programs “Eat Bulaga” and “The Ryzza Mae Show” to attend a “mandatory conference” for airing “scenes allegedly insensitive and unfriendly to children.”

According to MTRCB chair Eugenio “Toto” Villareal, there were scenes in the shows that “palpably violate the dignity of the child,” and that this prompted the board to summon GMA 7 and the programs’ producer, Tape Inc. to attend a conference scheduled Thursday, 3 p.m., at the MTRCB offices in Quezon City.

Villareal cited the July 29 episode of the noontime show “Eat Bulaga” where TV host Vic Sotto spat juice on the face of fellow host Ryzza Mae Dizon in the segment called “Ang Joke Ko.”

“We want to emphasize that children between one (1) and eight (8 ) years old are not yet capable of critical judgment. They are easily impressionable and still incapable of processing a joke as such,” Villareal told the INQUIRER. “We’re aware that it was just a joke, but kids watching the show don’t. They would think it’s OK to spit on another person’s face or to be spat on.”

In its memo to Tape Inc., the MTRCB said the scene was “disturbing because Dizon was palpably exploited as she was ridiculed, humiliated and degraded by the act of the host. The scene not only palpably compromise the dignity of a child as a human being, it also does not promote any positive value or behavior among viewers, adults or children alike. Moreover, such scene may be deemed prejudicial to her development.”

Villareal also mentioned the Aug. 14 episode of “The Ryzza Mae Show” where a contest winner named Gelsa told Dizon “Landing bata ka ah!” (You’re such a flirty kid!), to which the young TV host replied by pleading that she was just a child and asking the guest not to be too harsh on her. “Bata pa po ako. Ate ‘wag ah, dahan dahan. Ikaw naman ang sungit mo sa akin,” Dizon told the contestant.

As of September 4, the YouTube video was viewed by almost half a million times.

The most “liked” comment on the video said the woman should not have treated a child like that.

“I think that merits a case…violence against children… Well if that’s [the contest winner’s] way of wanting to be famous, she succeeded. [But], she made a big mistake of making herself the laughing stock of the entire country,” the comment read.

Villareal stressed that children “should not be treated like toys or pets. We’re a bit lucky because Ryzza Mae has a high intelligence quotient, and that she was able to express how she felt with the shabby treatment. Other kids are not as expressive.”

According to the MTRCB memo, “the child actor was exposed to malicious and rude statements. [This] imparts the idea that it is natural to utter slanderous and abusive statements against a person.”

In a text message to INQUIRER, Tape Inc. senior vice president and chief operating officer Malou Choa-Fagar said “we’ll attend the meeting. Ever since, we’ve cooperated…”

The MTRCB said it hoped for the “cooperation of all those concerned in finding out what caused these scenes, who are responsible therefore, and what immediate and concrete measures can be done so they do not happen again.”

The statement added that there was “serious and urgent concern for the welfare of children, who are most vulnerable in media and entertainment.”

The MTRCB memo provided a transcript of Dizon’s conversation with the contest winner Gelsa. When Dizon asked if the woman had a boyfriend, she answered, “Meron. Bakit aagawin mo? Ang bata bata mo pa ah. Ganon? Landing bata ka ah!” (I have a boyfriend. Are you going to steal him? You’re still so young. You’re such a flirty kid!) Dizon replied, “Bakit, kapag ba tinatanong aagawin na agad?” (If I ask does it already mean I am going to steal him?).

Dizon became popular when she won the Little Miss Philippines title in 2012. She is currently the youngest host in “Eat Bulaga.” Aside from “The Ryzza Mae Show,” Dizon is also seen in the sitcom “Vampire Ang Daddy Ko.” She was also a cast of the fantasy-adventure film “Si Agimat, Si Enteng at Si Ako.”

Sam Miguel
11-27-2013, 10:13 AM
'Family Guy' fans protest death of Brian the dog

by Agence France-Presse

Posted on 11/26/2013 2:05 PM | Updated 11/26/2013 3:24 PM

LOS ANGELES, USA – Fans of hit US television show "Family Guy" launched a protest petition Monday, November 25, after Brian the dog, a main character since the series' 1999 launch, was killed off.

The unexpected plot twist in Sunday night's episode, "Life of Brian," triggered a flood of comments on social media, including at least 280,000 Likes for a Facebook page "RIP Brian Griffin from Family Guy."

"Brian Griffin was an important part of our viewing experience. He added a witty and sophisticated element to the show," said a petition on the change.org website, after the animated canine was run over by a car.

"'Family Guy' and Fox Broadcasting will lose viewers if Brian Griffin is not brought back to the show."

The petition, addressed to TV company Fox and "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane, was signed by over 23,000 people as of writing.

In the latest episode of the animated show, Brian was run over by a car and died at the local vet's office, surrounded by his family. He thanked them for giving him a wonderful life, before expiring.

Fellow cult animated show "The Simpsons" has said that one of its characters will die during the current 25th season, which premiered in September, triggering a surge of laments and speculation about who will go in Springfield.

MrM
11-27-2013, 10:20 AM
^ Parang WCW lang yan. Seth Macfarlane might be underestimating his viewers.

Joescoundrel
02-07-2014, 01:31 PM
Did this ‘Biggest Loser’ contestant lose too much weight?

By Caitlin Dewey

February 6 at 11:35 am

Celebrity trainers Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper wore twin expressions of shock when “The Biggest Loser” contestant Rachel Frederickson had her big reveal Tuesday night — but the only surprise, really, is that this hasn’t happened sooner.

Reaction of the trainers on the biggest loser to Rachel.. Clearly something isn’t right pic.twitter.com/QmXuCXi6v0

— Nikki-Taylor Dow (@nikktayyy) February 5, 2014

Frederickson, who weighed 260 pounds when the show began, shed 60 percent of her body weight during the show and ended at 105 pounds. Since she’s only 5’4”, that puts her body mass index at 18 — below what the National Institute of Health considers a healthy minimum. In other words, the Twitter masses have claimed, Frederickson lost too much weight. It’s impossible to say whether that’s true based on numbers alone — more on that later — but it’s equally impossible to see why anyone’s surprised by Frederickson’s “scary” weight loss.

Scary skinny! RT @ENews 105-pound #BiggestLoser winner Rachel Frederickson insists she feels “amazing.” Is her weight loss too extreme?

— Mary Baum (@mebaum) February 5, 2014

The popular reality show, which just wrapped its 15th season on NBC, has (literally) made its name off dramatic weight loss — the person who loses the most wins $250,000, which basically amounts to a quarter-million reasons to drop as much as possible, at any cost.

Of course, as nutritionists and eating-disorder advocates have pointed out, viewing obesity as a pure numbers game is a fundamental misunderstanding of how the human body works. For one thing, different people have different body compositions and nutritional needs. For another, how you lose the weight matters — a healthy, moderate, maintainable diet and exercise regimen is better for the long-term than the “PTSD-inducing” hoops “Biggest Loser” contestants get put through. (Fredrickson’s trainer on the show, for his part, said on Facebook that her health “is and always has been my main concern.”)
Click here to subscribe.

And therein lies the whole problem not only with the concept of the show, but the whole cultural dieting complex: This shallow obsession with numbers has more to do with appearance than with actual health, despite protests to the contrary. And that preoccupation with and scrutiny of appearance — even when it’s well-intentioned, as in the case of all the Twitter users expressing “concern” over Fredrickson’s reveal — ultimately undermines healthy weight loss.

“As a society we often criticize people for being at higher weights — that’s part of why we have the TV show ‘The Biggest Loser’ — and then we feel free to criticize lower weight,” Jillian Lampert, the director of an eating disorder treatment program in St. Paul, told the AP. “We certainly see a lot of people who struggle with eating disorders who use the same behaviors on that show to an extreme.”

But unfortunately, watching Fredrickson and her competitors cut the red meat out of their diets and take up a casual walking routine would not make for riveting television. And so we have “The Biggest Loser,” where apparently either the loser is too big … or the loss is.

A suggestion: If you’re concerned about all this, stop watching the show.

Sam Miguel
07-10-2014, 10:38 AM
Changes in the TV landscape

By Raul J. Palabrica |

Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:20 am |

Monday, July 7th, 2014

Ahead of the signing of a sales purchase agreement, radio-television giant GMA Network Inc. announced recently that businessman Ramon Ang will acquire a minority interest in the company.

Ang, the top honcho of San Miguel Corp. (SMC), is investing in his personal capacity, reportedly paying P15.3 billion for an initial 30 percent equity interest. The shares will be drawn from the shareholdings of the three families that have majority control of the network.

Word in the market is Ang, in recognition of his status as GMA’s biggest individual stockholder, will assume the position of chair, which is presently being held in a concurrent capacity by CEO Felipe Gozon.

Earlier, Gozon expressed admiration over Ang’s skillful handling of SMC’s diversification program and said “he will bring a lot of ideas” to the network which is in close competition with ABS-CBN for primacy in the radio and television industry.

Ang’s smooth entry is in sharp contrast to two abortive offers by business tycoon Manuel Pangilinan, chair of ABC Development Corp. which owns TV5, to buy into GMA.

The negotiations then were marked by not-so-pleasant exchange of words in the media between Gozon and Pangilinan that made the proposed buy-in look like a hostile takeover attempt.

Treatment

Although Ang’s investment in GMA is personal in character, it cannot be totally dissociated from his shareholdings in SMC and its affiliate companies.

At present, the erstwhile beer distilling company that traces its roots to the Spanish colonial period either fully owns, has majority control or is part owner of several corporations engaged in food manufacturing, mining, infrastructure development, energy production and airline management.

All these businesses are closely supervised by government regulatory agencies and often invite widespread public criticism if they fall short of their customers’ expectations.

They are also the favorite whipping boys of congressmen and senators who want media mileage or concessions for their personal benefit.

It helps that, in case any of these corporations get caught in the sticky situations mentioned, they have in their corner media entities that can give full play to their side of the story, provide favorable coverage, or soften the effects of adverse publicity.

This is not to say that GMA will be less scrupulous in living up to its “fair and equal coverage” slogan, but it is common knowledge in the media industry that the interests of their owners or benefactors are not completely set aside in the treatment of news events if they are, one way or the other, affected.

After all, you don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

Disclosure

The score is now even on the TV platforms of the reputed “frenemies” in big ticket government projects. Pangilinan has TV5 and Ang has GMA7.

It will be interesting to see how GMA will be able to maintain its image of impartiality or fairness in the treatment of news in situations that involve SMC and its affiliate companies, including those owned by Ang.

To the credit of TV5, whenever a news report relates to a company that is owned or managed by Pangilinan (or the First Pacific Group he heads), the station discloses such ties at the end of the newscast.

The disclosure enables the listeners to make their conclusion on whether the news report was presented in an objective manner or biased in favor of Pangilinan’s interests.

The thin line that differentiates honest-to-goodness news from propaganda can be easily spotted by discerning TV viewers. And if they catch it, a flick of a finger on the TV remote control to change channels will provide quick relief from the spin story.
What’s more, a deliberate omission of important details or “messaging” of the news risks being exposed by social media or a recording uploaded to the Internet.

Never in our history has credibility in news reports been able to be tested in many ways and quickly relayed to a wide audience at the press of a button.

Commercials

For now, the forthcoming change in ownership structure in GMA is no cause for concern by its principal competitors in free TV, ABS-CBN and TV5. The three TV stations have their respective audience targets depending on their age, gender, income, social class, content preference and viewing hours.

According to some surveys, factors specific to certain regions in the country also affect viewing habits in those places.

The advertisement contracts they have for the season will remain in place until they reach their expiration dates or supervening events occur that justify their early termination. After that, it’s going to be a different ballgame for advertisers, advertising agencies and GMA’s competitors.

It is reasonable to expect SMC and its affiliate companies, including those identified with Ang, to give preferential treatment to GMA in airing its advertisements.

Charity begins at home, so the saying goes. And home for these companies is where someone of their own or with whom they maintain close financial ties has substantial interests.

And because they are considered family, price and placement concessions can be reasonably expected.

For strategic reasons, ABS-CBN and TV5 will not be totally shut out from the advertising budget of these companies. But it is doubtful if their advertising revenues would be as lucrative as before.

It remains to be seen whether the coming changes in the country’s TV landscape will be redound to the public’s benefit.

Sam Miguel
11-07-2014, 08:16 AM
4 Shows That Returned to Awesomeness After Sucking for Years

By Gladstone

November 06, 2014

225,889 views

We all know lots of shows turn crappy after a while, but that's not what I'm writing about today. Or, to put it another way, we all know lots of shows turn crappy after a while, but that's not what I'm writing about today. Oh, did I put it exactly the same way? Yes, I did. And do you know what's amazing? I bet everything I own that you will see plenty of comments about shows that started out good but turned crappy. But here's the thing: although lots of shows turn crappy after a while, that's not what I'm writing about today.

Today's topic is shows that lost their way ... for a bit, before fixing things. Shows that started off fine before forgetting what made the show work and going down a wrong path for a while. Got it? Not just a gradual decline into garbage.

#4. Doctor Who

I believe I was the first Cracked columnist to write about Doctor Who, when I did my column three years ago explaining how Doctor Who became my religion. Quite simply, the show did nothing short of alter my conception of God. It's not a religious show by any means, but it is about an incredibly old and powerful alien who loves humanity more than all the creatures in the universe. He often fights for us. Most never know him. Most are never aware of everything he has done to perpetuate the world and keep us safe. And, sometimes, despite all his power and love, he loses himself, makes mistakes, and fails.

These days, Doctor Who has become a bit of a whipping boy, with Cracked's own Soren Bowie and Adam Tod Brown taking shots at the show, and I understand their criticisms, but I tend to disagree. I'd tell them myself if they would return my calls, but I'll tell you instead. And I will tell you as a fan who loves The Doctor. I'll also tell you as a writer who thinks that the last two showrunners, Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffat, although not infallible, are full-blown geniuses.

Doctor Who is at its best when The Doctor is saving humanity or other worthy victims from evil, not with violence but intelligence and faith in others. Even though he is capable of great destruction, he tries to live by impossible ideals in a universe filled with unspeakable evil. His ability to regenerate means that even though he is now about a thousand years old, his persona has been portrayed by actors who look like old men and youthful dreamboats.

What Went Wrong? Season 7 of the Reboot

Season 7. Season 7 went horribly wrong. Y'see, after 16 years of it being off the air, the BBC brought the show back in 2005 with a hip young Doctor portrayed by Christopher Eccleston. After a season, he was replaced by David Tennant. Tennant's Doctor was notable for his good looks, romanticism, and, perhaps most importantly, his ability to make me doubt my heterosexuality.

Tennant made The Doctor sexy, and the show exploded in popularity in America. When Tennant left, they replaced him with an even younger actor, Matt Smith, who continued the explosion of fangirlism. And that was fine. Smith was a great Doctor. But in Season 7 we said goodbye to The Doctor's human companions Rory and Amy and found a new woman to take their place: Clara.

No offense to the super dreamy and talented actress, Jenna Coleman, but the Clara character is the most underdeveloped companion of the series reboot, and it's created a lot of weird, unnecessary sexual tension with The Doctor. Season 7 gets cutesy in a way that made it seem like Moffat is pandering to hordes of new American fangirls. And it's not all about Clara. In Smith's final episode as The Doctor, he is moments away from regenerating -- the "death" of his character in its current form before taking a new, related but different identity. Logically, he should want to see his wife. (Yes, turns out The Doctor was married at some point in his 1,000-year life.) But instead he dreams of Amy -- his sexy companion from the previous seasons. Why? I dunno, because awwwwwwwww.

How'd They Fix It?

Well, they haven't fully, but they're on the right path. The Doctor is now played by the much older and less romantic Peter Capaldi, who is bringing a touch more angry indifference to the role (at least on the outside). There is no longer any weird flirtation with Clara, as they have given her a boyfriend. And, best of all, it really seems Clara is on the way out -- hopefully replaced by a character who has, y'know, some character. If the show can do that and up the stakes on The Doctor being the savior he was meant to be, we might continue to see the improvements of Season 8 into a glorious Season 9. (At the time of writing, the season finale has not yet aired, but it seems like maybe we're on to something ...)

#3. Friday Night Lights

I'm sure I don't have to tell you about Friday Night Lights. I mean who doesn't love Friday Night Lights? Well, me actually. I'd never watched the show at all, but my buddy hipped me to it, and wouldn't you know it? It's actually the best entry on this list, because something super weird happened to the show. It's an adaptation from the film of the same name, and both are based on a nonfiction book about life in a small Texas town centered around a high school football team. Unlike most TV adaptations, where a successful movie is boiled down to the least common denominator, the film's director, Peter Berg, brought the project to television so he'd have more time to tell smaller and more intimate stories. Essentially, the show centers around high school football coach Eric Taylor, his family, his football team, and his community. The show also examines the interpersonal issues of an ensemble cast.

What Went Wrong? Season 2

Turns out that a quiet show about life in a small, football-minded Texas town was not the ratings bonanza you might expect. And some have speculated that the network began interfering in Season 2. Because, suddenly, a large part of the season deals with ... MURDER! Yep, in Season 2, viewers are treated to a storyline that features attempted rape and murder. Somewhere between storylines about accidental pregnancies and college recruiters, it was decided to liven things up with one of the students killing a man who tries to rape the coach's wife.

How'd They Fix It?

They resolved that storyline by having a heartfelt confession, and then never spoke of it again. Even better, NBC made a deal with DirecTV to co-produce the subsequent three seasons of the show on DirecTV's 101 Network. With that reduced production cost, it seems there might have been less pressure to deliver big drama storylines to this small show.

Sam Miguel
11-07-2014, 08:18 AM
^^^ (Cont'd)

#2. Dexter

I can hear you already. You're saying, "No mom, I'm not abusing myself in the bathroom again, I'm just reading Cracked articles on the crapper." But you're also saying, "Jesus, Gladstone, I thought you said you weren't writing about shows that just turned to crap, and Dexter certainly turned to crap." Well, to you I say two things: 1) yes, the overall show turns to crap in later seasons, but we're focusing on the mediocre third season that precedes the awesome fourth season, and 2) you should really wash your hands after you wipe and before you touch your phone again, because otherwise you're just carrying fecal matter around everywhere.

For those who don't know, Dexter tells the story of a Florida medical examiner who has an extreme murderous blood lust, but he was raised by a cop who knew how to harness it. He gives Dexter a code to live by that ensures his murderous instincts don't get him caught and that he's not killing anyone who doesn't "deserve" it.

What Went Wrong? Season 3

So yeah, we already have sort of a hard-to-believe premise for Dexter, so you have to be careful not to push the show into completely bombastic parody. I mean, after the first season, where we watch Dexter track a serial killer while he, himself, carries out serial killings, we wondered, uh, just how many serial killers are in Florida? And how will they repeat this for every season? Serial killings don't pop up in the same location each and every year.

The showrunners apparently realized that, and the second season is great. All of the bodies Dexter has been dumping are discovered, and the feds come to town to investigate. The investigation becomes the overarching story arc. Then Season 3 starts, and I guess everyone realized it would be hard to have a full-blown serial killer again, so they introduce a crooked DA who sometimes kills people, y'know, just to shore up a case.

Then, perhaps realizing that a crooked DA is kind of boring (and it sure is), they also introduce a character who likes to skin people alive, probably just to add some of the missing, creepy goodness. Except he is more like a gory hitman, not a serial killer, so ... yeah, it sounds silly to even type out. The show loses all focus and just kind of features random killing, because they hadn't figured out how to reinvent a new season.

How'd They Fix It?

With John Lithgow! Season 4 is arguably the finest season of Dexter, and that's because it finds a way to stick to the formula while raising the stakes. Season 4 has another serial killer, but to up the credibility, he is a killer that murders in seven-year cycles and moves around so we don't have to swallow that Florida is the serial-killer capital of the world, instead of just the batshittiest, gun-loviest place in the universe. Dexter wrongly believes Lithgow, the Trinity Killer, has found a way to work murder into his everyday life while heading a normal household -- Dexter's ambition. A mentor relationship gone awry. And unlike Jimmy Smits and some faceless hitman with a weird MO, Lithgow's Trinity is terrifying.

#1. The Sopranos

I've never been a huge fan of mob movies. Of course I recognize The Godfather and Goodfellas as significant works of art, but for every person who recognizes them as cinematic achievements, there are 10 guys with wife-beater T-shirts and too much cologne who get murder boners for organized crime. I don't approve of a show that glorifies crime. For the most part, The Sopranos does not do that and should not be blamed for those people who misguidedly make fictional New Jersey crime boss Tony Soprano their idol.

So despite my deep discomfort with the glorification of crime, I greatly enjoyed the first two seasons of The Sopranos. Although the show takes you inside the day-to-day life of a murderous crime boss, it does not apologize for who Tony is. The show makes you watch it by filling episodes with interesting, if not likable characters. There is always a power struggle the viewer can watch without taking sides.

What Went Wrong? Season 3

By Season 3, it seemed the writers of The Sopranos started to like the characters as much as some of the show's fans. The wrong fans. The fans who hung up posters of Tony Soprano in their apartment and practiced smoking cigars like a badass in the mirror. Instead of engaging us by showing us the power struggle within the mob community, Season 3 seems to attempt to have the audience relate to the characters on a more emotional level. Nowhere is this more clear than the storyline about henchman Paulie Walnuts and his mother at the retirement home. Seems she just isn't satisfied with the care, much to the dismay of her put-upon son.

Yes, The Sopranos shows us the mundane side of the mob, but it is best when that mundane side terrifies us. When it makes you realize that the guy sitting next to you at the PTA meeting might kill, torture, and extort as part of his day job. The majority of the show doesn't reveal everyday travails to humanize on an emotional level. But Season 3 features a different kind of emotional investment.

How'd They Fix It?

Well, they just cut that shit out. After that hiccup, repeatedly, the characters are shown to be the criminals they are, despite owning some suburban homes. If need be, Tony has no problem killing ... [SPOILER ALERT] ... his own nephew, just like Michael Corleone of The Godfather has no problem killing ... [SPOILER ALERT] ... his own brother.

The Sopranos rights its course and finishes strong, up until that final scene that we will not discuss. At all.

Sam Miguel
11-28-2014, 09:45 AM
The real-life Bill Cosby show: Follow the sanctimony

Meghan Daum

LOS ANGELES TIMES

mdaum​@latimescolumnists.com

The phrase “follow the money” was popularized in the Watergate docudrama “All the President's Men.”

“I'll keep you in the right direction if I can, but that's all. Just … follow the money,” Deep Throat supposedly told reporter Bob Woodward in the shadows of that parking garage.

Though there's no evidence that anyone during the Watergate investigation said those words in real life (more likely they were the creation of screenwriter William Goldman), they've evolved into a useful rule of thumb for getting to the bottom of a shady situation.

When it comes to Bill Cosby, who has recently faced allegations of sexual assault and misbehavior from more than a dozen women, some of them involving drugging and rape, the catchphrase might be this: Follow the sanctimony.

I'm not just talking about the sanctimony of the actual Cosby, who gave speeches censuring lower-class blacks, accusing them of embracing ghetto culture and playing the victim rather than examining their own failures. These appearances, which began in 2004, may have represented the most literal manifestation of Cosby's penchant for self-righteousness, but they were hardly without tonal precedent.

The main ingredient of Cosby's TV-and-beyond “America's Dad” persona was a kind of goofy affability — seasoned with more than a dash of smugness. In “The Cosby Show,” as paterfamilias at the Huxtables' Brooklyn Heights brownstone, he wielded his authority lovingly but also imperiously. A quip to his young daughter in the third season, “Your mother and I are rich. You have nothing,” was a typical zinger. It was funny, but it was also sanctimonious.

Of course, that sanctimony contributed mightily to Cosby's crossover appeal. Part of the reason white audiences loved Cosby so much, was that his character Cliff Huxtable's upper-middle-class trappings alleviated white guilt by suggesting that we were in a post-racial society. Because sanctimony is a privilege afforded mostly to those who have cause to feel superior — and, as a result, it is not a trait typically associated with people of color — Cosby's smugness functioned as a form of whiteness. No wonder the show ran for eight seasons and was No. 1 in the ratings for five years straight.

But as we've learned from the empty moralizing of countless evangelists and politicians (think Ted Haggard, who railed against gays but was felled by accusations that he secretly had sex with men, or William Bennett, who edited a guide to self-discipline, “The Book of Virtues,” that belied his own gambling problems), sanctimony can often function as a clever disguise for serious moral failings. Follow it far enough and you're likely to find behavior that flies in the face — sometimes at lightning speed — of all that piety.

Granted, Cosby's sermonizing has mostly been focused on the importance of education and good parenting, where he does have some legitimate bona fides. Unlike today's reigning America's Dad, Louis C.K., whose hands-on parenting style is taken as a given and represents a generation of men raised on feminism, Cosby was never particularly held up as a champion of women's rights. Still, he was so hellbent on holding himself up as a pillar of the community that in retrospect it seems almost logical that he might be hiding a more sinister side.

Nonetheless, the public was caught off guard by the cascade of charges. And if the audience that gave Cosby a standing ovation at his comedy show in Florida on Friday is any indication, some people remain unwilling to believe that Cosby's actions were as bad as they now look to be.

Part of that is surely a function of the special brand of denial we reserve for beloved celebrities. But an even greater part might be the degree to which so many people are swayed by sanctimony and moral censure. As much as it hurts to be scolded, there can also be a masochistic pleasure in it. Moreover, there's no pleasure quite like watching others get scolded, especially when the scolder is calling out members of his own community in a way that outsiders cannot.

Cosby, who perhaps understood his audience better than they understood themselves, delivered that pleasure by the truckload. His smugness functioned not just as a cover for his own actions but as a pacifier — a drug, even — for a public too seduced by sanctimony to trace it back to its less-than-noble roots.

Sam Miguel
11-28-2014, 09:58 AM
Bill Cosby allegations meet with mostly silence in Hollywood

By SCOTT COLLINS

With the sexual misconduct allegations against Bill Cosby topping headlines this month, some of the most critical comments directed at the embattled 77-year-old star are coming from his fellow comics.

"Here's where we say goodbye, Bill Cosby," tweeted Patton Oswalt, after writing that it was Cosby who inspired him to pursue a stand-up career.

The rest of Hollywood, however, seems gripped by a strange silence.

From the former costars of the 1980s smash "The Cosby Show" to such Cosby pals as Oprah Winfrey and Magic Johnson, the entertainment industry has mostly offered zero, at least publicly, on the subject of claims that the beloved sitcom patriarch and author of the No. 1 bestseller "Fatherhood" was a serial abuser who drugged and sexually assaulted young women.

NBC dropped development plans for a comedy pilot in which Cosby would play the grandfather of a multi-generational family. And Netflix postponed a special on tap for the comic's 77th birthday. But the companies offered no comment or explanation for those decisions.

Carsey Werner Co., which produced "The Cosby Show," wrote in a terse statement that the "recent news reports are beyond our knowledge or comprehension."

During a taping of ABC's daytime chat fest "The View," co-host Whoopi Goldberg argued for restraint before judging Cosby. "People jump on the bandwagon. … For me, I'm going to wait," said Goldberg, who outraged some in 2009 with a defense of director Roman Polanski, who pleaded guilty to a charge of statutory rape.

"The silence from the entertainment community has been obvious, and frankly, disappointing," said Jeffrey McCall, a media studies professor at DePauw University. "Cosby's pals are hesitant to disrupt his legendary status over old allegations. The Hollywood culture protects each other from scandals because few of them have spotless pasts."

Like many Americans — and until recently, most of the news media — industry veterans seem torn between the public image of Cosby as an avuncular, sometimes cranky authority figure and his accusers' portrayal of a sexual predator who followed a pattern of incapacitating victims before assaulting them.

In a town where success is the only calling card that matters, insiders are also burdened with the knowledge that Cosby is a singular success, a comic who worked his way up from clubs to TV stardom and is now worth an estimated $400 million. He is credited with helping turn NBC into the No. 1 network starting in the 1980s, creating a dynasty that endured for years.

"There are people that are not going to want to believe it, that are still huge fans of Bill's," Sharon Osbourne said on CBS' "The Talk," when discussing a former NBC employee who claimed he helped Cosby pay hush money to women.

And then major entertainment figures fret about getting embroiled in the violent spin cycle on Twitter and social media, where outrage over offhand remarks about emotional subjects can within minutes prompt trolls to hurl abuse or even death threats.

"There's this concern about the media and the feeding frenzy in general," said Dan Hill, a crisis public relations executive at Ervin Hill Strategy in Washington, D.C. "People are reluctant to participate in these kinds of conversations."

This is not the first time, of course, that Hollywood has averted its gaze from an unpleasant topic. It's hardly news that a mythology-creating town that rushes to embrace every glamorous trend runs away from ugliness, at least until it's safely tucked in the very distant past. Films and TV series about slavery and the Holocaust may win industry adulation, but it has proved difficult to get celebrities and top decision-makers to acknowledge serious present-day problems that threaten the industry's natural order.

Silence, however, grows complicated when claims of sexual assault are involved. In fact, the very word "silence" is a loaded term for accusers and advocacy groups, who say the tendency of society to turn away worsens the harm caused by the initial crime.

"Survivors of rape continuously face disbelief, blame and silence when they attempt to share their stories," Chitra Panjabi, a vice president for the National Organization for Women, wrote in a statement. "The cases that have unfolded around Bill Cosby are no different. Since the first accusations arose in the early 2000s, these 13-plus women have been ignored, shamed, interrogated and silenced."

Thus the silence from a celebrity such as Winfrey is noteworthy. The former queen of daytime talk TV and creator of the cable network OWN revealed to her audience that she was sexually abused at age 9 and has done countless shows featuring survivors of rape and sexual abuse. She has also interviewed Cosby and his wife, Camille, who has not addressed the abuse allegations.

The big network late-night hosts usually live to feast on the foibles of the famous, but they, with few exceptions, have stayed away from Cosby. Conan O'Brien and Jon Stewart made passing jokes about the scandal.

Comedians, however, seem to be having less of a problem addressing the Cosby issue. In fact, it was a routine last month from comic Hannibal Buress — in which he derided Cosby's image — that ignited the current firestorm.

On his HBO show "Real Time," Bill Maher said, "Sorry, but this guy is such a creep. I've had to reevaluate everything I ever thought about him."

He added: "I get it. Celebrities are targets. But 16 women? All with the same story? Even for a guy who did a sitcom in the 1980s, that's a lot of wacky misunderstandings."

Sarah Silverman, who has made a career out of close-to-the-edge humor, tweeted: "Bill Cosby gave me one of those 'don't be dirty' lectures, but I was rendered unconscious." She later apologized after users criticized her for trivializing rape.

Whether Hollywood wants to talk about it or not, though, Cosby's career — certainly his unofficial role as America's Dad — looks to be over. While his colleagues may choose to remain silent, experts say, that's not a viable option for Cosby given the seriousness of the accusations against him. Last week he told a Florida TV station that he wouldn't respond to "innuendo."

"He just can't use silence as a response to such allegations," McCall said. "If he continues his public life, he will be merely a curiosity."

scott.collins@latimes.com

Joescoundrel
12-19-2014, 01:48 PM
The sun sets on Stephen Colbert's sterling satire

Mary McNamara

LOS ANGELES TIMES

mary.mcnamara​@latimes.com

In 2006, Stephen Colbert performed at the White House correspondent's dinner. For almost 25 uncomfortably hilarious and immediately divisive minutes, Colbert performed as the titular character of his Comedy Central show, damning virtually all the attendees, including then-President George W. Bush, with praise faint and otherwise.

If neither the audience nor those covering the event knew exactly what had hit them, the millions who viewed the subsequently viral video did: Event planners thought they had invited a political comedian; what they got was America's Satirist Laureate.

It was an easy mistake to make, particularly at the time. "The Colbert Report," which comes to an end Dec. 18, was just beginning its nearly 10-year run. (Colbert will take over CBS' "The Late Show" after its longtime host, David Letterman, retires next year.)

A spin-off of "The Daily Show," which overtly deconstructs the hypocrisy, spin and blatant inaccuracies at work in politics and the media's coverage of it, "The Colbert Report" took on the far trickier task of satirizing same. Tweaking the inappropriate obliviousness of his correspondent on "The Daily Show," Colbert and his writers created a Bill O'Reilly-like commentator who, without any hint of guile, filtered the news through a prism of right-wing politics, self-righteous ignorance and complete narcissism.

The performance was so spot on that Colbert the performer quickly became virtually indistinguishable from his creation. For years, many viewers, and some guests, were not quite sure if "The Colbert Report" was a send-up of right-wing politics and the cult of personality or an example of it.

And that, of course, is the mark of truly brilliant satire: The baffled pause in which the audience is forced to think. About what is real, what is outrageous, and how often the two words refer to the same thing.

Is he really running for president and could he win? Is he really creating a super PAC, and is it actually legal to not disclose where campaign money comes from or how it is used? Did Daft Punk really last-minute ditch its appearance, forcing Colbert to put together an emergency song-of-the-summer video, and is that Henry Kissinger?

Comedy is tough, subversive satire is tougher, and sustained subversive satire is nearly impossible. To embody an object of ridicule that is itself a symbol of many larger themes requires a constant tension between opposing forces: sincerity and mockery, outrage and sentiment, wit and humanity.

Most great satire cloaks itself in other guises, running through classics as varied as Ovid, Austen, Dickens, Voltaire, Twain. Modern satirists like Vonnegut, Heller and Orwell grew less sentimental. Shows including "Laugh-In," "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" and "MASH" brought political satire to television. Christopher Guest popularized the mockumentary that in turn gave us "The Office" and similar comedies. Garry Trudeau, certainly a fellow laureate, re-invented the cartoon; Matt Groening, Seth MacFarlane and others took the sensibility to television.

But no one has ever created a single character with both the continuity and elasticity of "The Report's" Stephen Colbert, much less kept it going it for nearly a decade.

By its very nature, satire is stinging and people can tire of being, or watching others get, stung. But Colbert, like Charles Dickens (who hit many of the same points about politics, social divisions and the perils of ignorance) understands that the point of satire is not pain, it's the desire for change. For the joke to really work, it has to start from a resting point of sincerity.

And no one on television is as sincere as Colbert. Unlike many modern performers, he does not approach his comedy as a wounded, jaded or discombobulated outsider.

Though he deals daily in the outrage, neither does he seem particularly angry. Geek culture may be generally ascendant, but it's difficult to imagine another white, liberal, 50-year-old Elvish-speaking Southern fantasy geek with kids and a decades-long marriage who could be so openly devoted to both Catholicism and his mother while still hitting all those Power/Hot lists.

Yet there is no reason to believe that Colbert is not a genuinely nice guy.

Which is exactly why he's been able to get away with one of the most scalding and significant satirical performances of this or any decade. Neither cruel nor kind, his performance was driven instead by the rare ability to harness passion without taking it personally.

No matter how off, convoluted or contradictory the screeds became, there was never the slightest gleam of viciousness, maliciousness or contempt in the performance. "The Report" could be brutal, but Colbert never was; the performer was happy to roll the character through the swamp of sanctimony and stupidity, to expose his toxicity, meanness as well as the environment in which they festered, but you sensed that, at some level, he loved him all the same.

It's useless to speculate what Colbert and his team will bring to "The Late Show." Under Letterman, "Late Night" has long been a dry and sardonic alternative to the celebratory showcase of "The Tonight Show," but it's not subversive and it's certainly not satire.

Watching as Colbert recently interviewed Jennifer Lawrence, whom he introduced by reading what appeared to be her IMDB listing, it was difficult not to feel a pang. He may succeed in re-inventing the show, or even the genre, but there will never be another "The Colbert Report," and it's hard to say goodbye.