Thursday October 26, 2017

"Broad City made headlines over the summer when co-creators Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson announced they planned to censor President Donald Trump's name on their new season, which is currently airing on Comedy Central. Now, the comedy is taking that vow one step further by lending its brand to the available Trump filters on the internet. On Wednesday, Comedy Central announced a new browser extension themed around the show, which stars Glazer and Jacobson as 20-somethings in the  New York City-set coming-of-age sitcom. The fourth season firmly places its stars in Trump's America."

"Bill O’Reilly has been holding talks to host a TV program on Sinclair Broadcast Group’s TV stations. Sinclair, the nation’s largest TV-station owner, currently owns or operates 173 stations and, in May, struck a deal  for Tribune Media, which would up that tally to 220 stations if that acquisition is approved. Many of the Tribune stations are Fox broadcast affils."

NBC News has suspended contributor Mark Halperin pending investigation of allegations by several women that he sexually harassed them while he was an exec at ABC News.  Add him to the list.

"Stranger Things becomes the latest series to get the after-show treatment. The streaming giant is launching Beyond Stranger Things, a post-show rehash for the sci-fi phenomenon that debuted in 2016. Hosted by writer, producer, actor and "super fan" Jim Rash, the show after the show promises to explore the inspiration for the series, tell behind-the-scenes stories and analyze every aspect of the second season, including answering all burning questions. All seven episodes will be available to watch on Oct 27, the same day Stranger Things 2 is released on the streaming platform. However, viewers will be advised not to start watching Beyond Stranger Things until after they have finished watching the entire new season of the drama, as there will no doubt be major spoilers along the way. Unlike the genre's other aftershows, which air installments following each episodes, Netflix's iteration will automatically play after viewers complete the final episode of Stranger Things 2."  More below.

"The Good Doctor is off to a pretty great start on ABC. The freshman medical drama is the fifth-best entertainment series of the fall season among adults 18-49 (so, not counting sports) — fourth if you ignore “Young Sheldon,” which has only aired its series premiere thus far. The Sony/ABC medical drama’s 3.2 demo rating, which includes a week’s worth of delayed viewing where available, places it just two-tenths of a Nielsen point behind ABC’s top-rated show, Grey’s Anatomy (3.4). NBC’s sophomore powerhouse This Is Us (4.4) is the only broadcast network drama that does better than those two in the age-range most attractive to advertisers."

HGTV has picked up a new house-flipping series, Restoring Idaho, which follows best friends and home renovation duo Clint Robertson and Luke Caldwell as they purchase and revitalize outdated homes in Boise, Idaho. Clint, the contractor, and Luke, the designer, incorporate modern elements into every style of home, from bungalows and farmhouses to ranch style and midcentury modern homes. The six-episode series is expected to premiere in March 2018. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

"Pop has ordered a pilot for the offbeat, semi-improv comedy Sebastian Wakes Up, starring UCB Theatre player Sebastian Conelli. Alan Aisenberg, known for his role as Baxter Bayley on Orange Is the New Black, created the show with Justin Ayers, Juan Cocuy, Andrew Soltys, Charlie Todd, and Evan Shapiro. The series hails from Deverge, Improv Everywhere and Shapiro’s eshapTV banner. The show is described as a blend of improv and hidden-camera prank formats. The pilot, directed by Aisenberg, was shot earlier this month largely on the streets of New York."

"Jon Cryer is returning to CBS. The Two and a Half Men alum is teaming with the network to develop the family comedy Dads and Daughters. The multicamera effort revolves around a reserved math teacher with Midwestern values and an outgoing personal trainer who must bite the bullet and move in together rather than splitting their daughters up when their common ex-wife heads to prison for credit card fraud. Mark Gross (Mike & Molly, Man With a Plan) and Gregg Mettler (Man With a Plan, Cougar Town) will pen the script for the comedy and executive produce the CBS Television Studios entry alongside Cryer and his wife/producing partner Lisa Joyner via their Discount Sushi banner. Cryer is not currently attached to star."

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From TVLine: "[w]e’re going to hold Kristen Bell to her word: Veronica Mars‘ titular star is once again promising fans that her blonde gumshoe will be back on the case… eventually.

"First, a quick refresher: Last year, Bell — who’s currently starring on NBC’s The Good Place — said she and series creator Rob Thomas were looking to bring Veronica Mars back via a limited-series format vs. a feature film. What’s more, Bell added, 'And this time around we’re not going to ask the audience to pony up for anything.'

"Soon after, Thomas told us that the potential continuation would consist of a half-dozen hour-long episodes. 'Kristen and I both want to figure out some way we could do a six-episode Veronica Mars mystery,' he shared. 'If I were a betting man, I bet that it will happen. I just don’t know when it will be.'

"Cut to the present day, Bell provided this update to TVLine’s sister site IndieWire: 'We are willing to put the effort in. I mean, if I have to do it as Murder She Wrote at 80, we’re going to do it. It’s going to happen.'

"Bell went on to say that she and Thomas 'email about it every couple of months or so,” adding that Veronica Mars “works better as an episodic' series as opposed to a movie."

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Per Deadline, "[t]he Bad Boys hit movie franchise is getting a spinoff TV series centered on the character played in the second film by Gabrielle Union.

"No one would comment but I hear the untitled project, which is currently being pitched to TV networks, already has garnered strong interest from multiple places and is expected to land a major commitment. It hails from the Bad Boys movies’ producer Jerry Bruckheimer, Doug Belgrad via his 2.0 Entertainment and Primary Wave Entertainment. Sony Pictures TV Studios, whose movie sibling is behind the feature franchise, is the studio.

"The untitled Bad Boys spinoff is being written by The Blacklist writers-producers  Brandon Margolis and Brandon Sonnier. Union’s Special Agent Sydney 'Syd' Burnett, introduced in the sequel Bad Boys II, is the sister of Detective Lieutenant Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) who was romantically involved with Marcus’ partner, Detective Lieutenant Mike Lowrey (Will Smith). She is an undercover operative with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). 

"Union just became available as BET announced that her popular series Being Mary Jane will end with next year a two-hour series finale movie.

"I hear the idea for a Bad Boys offshoot centered around Union’s character came from Primary Wave Entertainment, which manages the actress, in the company’s first broadcast development season since it brought in former NBC Universal TV Entertainment chairman Jeff Gaspin as President. He executive produces the project alongside Union’s manager Jeff Morrone.

"Also executive producing the potential series are Belgrad and Jerry Bruckheimer TV’s Bruckheimer, Jonathan Littman and KristieAnne Reed."

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"Brian Williams is, surprisingly, back where he was in 2015: leading an evening newscast and winning in the ratings.

"In an interview with Variety last week, he linked the momentum he’s achieved anchoring MSNBC’s The 11th Hour to its tight focus on politics and his efforts to regain credibility with viewers in the wake of a 2015 controversy over false statements he was accused of making that nearly ended his career.

“'You emerge from it a different and changed person, especially given what I put everyone here through, and my friends and family, so every day is a new day on that front,' Williams told Variety.

"Being able to work, he says, 'was the best medicine' and the MSNBC job 'is one piece in a piecing-together of things that has entailed asking viewers for their trust and their support one at a time. I regard every one of our viewers as a friend and a customer of ours, and I regard that bond very seriously.'

"When asked about the findings of an NBC News investigation into the matter, the exact details of which have never been disclosed to the public, Williams referred the query to parent company NBCUniversal. A spokeswoman for the company, Hilary Smith, said executives declined to comment.

"The success of the show represents a remarkable turn of affairs for the anchor. He led NBC Nightly News for a decade before a bizarre incident in February 2015 in which he acknowledged having embellished a story about a past reporting trip aboard a Chinook helicopter in Iraq. The aircraft, Williams had said on a Nightly News broadcast, was forced down by enemy fire. He was subsequently challenged by accounts from soldiers who were aware of the true nature of the incident and had begun to complain. Williams’ plane was never in such danger.

"NBCUniversal suspended him for six months and took him off the broadcast evening newscast that was in first place. When Williams returned to the company, he was reassigned to a post as MSNBC’s lead anchor during breaking-news events, a job that required long hours on air.

"Could someone throw the incident at him during a broadcast? In 1988, President George H.W. Bush taunted Dan Rather during an interview for leaving his set in 1987, causing problems with a CBS news broadcast. 'I suppose that’s a risk,' says Williams. 'I have to hope the relationships I have with the folks watching and a lifetime spent trying to be their advocate and trying to provide them a safe harbor,' he says, adding: 'I hope that counts in that instance.'

"What counts now is an audience coming to see him as the clock nears midnight. In the third quarter of 2017, The 11th Hour lured the most viewers of any cable-news show at 11 p.m., according to Nielsen, with an average of 1.6 million viewers, leading a repeat on Fox News Channel and the second hour of CNN’s CNN Tonight anchored by Don Lemon.

"The show also won the most viewers between 25 and 54, the demographic most coveted by advertisers in news programs, edging out Fox News by 1,000 viewers and CNN by 15,000. Little wonder that MSNBC quietly expanded the show early in its run from 30 minutes to an hour, and from four nights a week to five.

The 11th Hour is a salon of sorts where guests pick through what some might describe as the societal wreckage trailing events in Washington. The show kicks off with the military sound of drums. Panelists discuss crucial matters of national security; suggest breakdowns in constitutional law; and mull over critical congressional investigations.

"The show’s growing audience spotlights a new dynamic in the news business: the flow of information no longer freezes up after the evening-news broadcasts on NBC, ABC, and CBS. When Nicolle Wallace served in the White House as a communications director for President George W. Bush, she never had to worry about news outlets posting to the web late in the evening.

"Now, she says, a late-night news show can grab stories that were once solely the province of the morning programs. More proof: Fox News is about to launch a live program at 11 p.m., anchored by Shannon Bream. 'If we’ve had any minor role in making this hour, which was once in our corner of the business – cable news – fallow, if we’ve made it a competitive realm, that’s hugely flattering,' says Williams.

"Those who visit are often cajoled to 'remind us in plain English' or cautioned 'don’t make me take this to the lawyers.' During a commercial break, Williams jokingly warns the operator of one of the studio’s robot cameras that he is 'driving erratically.' All the lines, he says, are his: 'It’s got to be language that originated with me, because you don’t own it if it isn’t.'

"In an era that may as well have ended with the election of Donald Trump as President, Williams’ journalistic sin seemed more egregious. But that time is past. Now, as Trump rails daily against what he terms 'fake news' and offers much of it himself, Williams’ error may recede in some viewers’ minds.

"The new show 'is a good fit' for Williams, says Janet Kolodzy, chair of the journalism department at Emerson College in Boston, as it allows him to inject personality into the proceedings, rather than sticking to the basics. 'Whether that means he has cleansed himself in terms of acceptability? I would say it depends on whether you would be a person who listens to MSNBC.'

“'Other broadcasts, I have heard, have a rule that there should be no multiple-guest segments without conflict. We have a rule against conflict,' says Williams. 'Conflict is easy. You know where to go to find it. If you come to us at 11 o’clock. I’m not going to yell at you. I’m not going to express my opinion or position, because it’s irrelevant. We are going to have no guests who intentionally insult your intelligence.'

"The show wasn’t supposed to be on the air this long. When 11th Hour debuted in September 2016, Williams, in an ad-lib, introduced it as 'a pop up show' that will air nightly 'from now until Election Day, when we will cancel ourselves.'

"But as Williams found his footing, executives at MSNBC saw an opportunity to 'punch through' and extend live programming past primetime, says MSNBC president Phil Griffin. Amid the craziness of the 2016 election, Griffin and Andrew Lack, chairman of NBC News and MSNBC, saw a need to help viewers wrap up the day’s events and – perhaps, more importantly – get ahead of tomorrow’s. 'The mission of the show is to get the latest material on,' says Griffin. 'And I don’t think that has changed.'

"To serve this mission, a small band of producers hunker down each evening, identifying breaking stories and trying to snare the reporters and journalists who just finished writing them. 'So much news is breaking in the 8 o’clock, 9 o’clock, 10 o’clock hour. There’s so much material to work with,' says Colleen King, 11th Hour senior producer. 'We call a lot of those reporters late at night. If they are not booked, we are trying to book them.'"

This article has been condensed.

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"Strange things have been known to happen in taxi rides across the country. But riders using Lyft on Halloween weekend are set for even Stranger Things than usual.

"Netflix and Lyft have teamed up to give passengers living in Los Angeles and Philadelphia some new nightmares this coming weekend. On Oct. 27 and Oct. 28, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. local times, Lyft riders can utilize "Strange Mode" to summon a vehicle that may or may not take them deep into the underbelly of the Upside Down — the haunting dimension that harbors the Demogorgon (and occasionally harbors David Harbour), featured in the Duffer Brothers' '80s-set thriller Stranger Things.

"Exactly what's going to happen to the folks lucky (or unlucky as it were) enough to experience one of these rides? Glad you asked! Look no further than the video below for a sneak peek at the ride from hell: 

"For those who don't live in Los Angeles and Philadelphia, Lyft is still offering ways to turn your ride into a Stranger Things experience. From Oct. 26 through 27, starting and ending at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. local time, passengers can use "Strange Mode" to transform in-app Lyft vehicles into icons from the Stranger Thingsuniverse, including waffles and Christmas lights."

Stranger Things returns Oct. 27.