Wednesday November 29, 2017

Sorry for the late post.  Still processing the Matt Lauer firing over here, just like Al Roker.  Details below.

Showtime has rightfully renewed SMILF for a 2nd season.

Fox ordered 6 more eps of Ghosted.

Ink Master returns for a 10th season on Tuesday, January 9 at 10p on Spike TV. For the first time, the series welcomes back three past winners to coach and mentor artists in their quest for $10,000. In addition, the former Masters, Seasons 2’s Steve Tefft, Season 7’s Anthony Michaels and Season 9’s DJ Tambe, will compete against each other for $100,000 of their own.

Congrats are in order to my friend on this one.  Vacation rental company HomeAway, Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment and A+E Networks are teaming for daytime show Vacation Rental Potential, debuting Saturday, December 9 at 11a on A&E. The series will visit 10 popular vacation destinations to help buyers find the right property, and show them how to maximize their rental potential with a listing on HomeAway.  Matt Blashaw SHOULD be the host, but sadly, he's not.

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Per The New York Times, "[t]he reckoning over sexual harassment in the workplace toppled another leading television personality on Wednesday when NBC fired its leading morning news anchor, Matt Lauer, over an allegation of sexual misconduct.

“'On Monday night, we received a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer,' Andrew Lack, the NBC News president, said in a memo to the staff.

"He said the allegation against Mr. Lauer 'represented, after serious review, a clear violation of our company’s standards. As a result, we’ve decided to terminate his employment.'

“'While it is the first complaint about his behavior in the over 20 years he’s been at NBC News, we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident,' Mr. Lack said.

"Ari Wilkenfeld, a civil rights lawyer with the firm Wilkenfeld, Herendeen & Atkinson in Washington, said he represented the woman who made the complaint to NBC, but declined to publicly identify her. In a statement provided to The New York Times, he said:

“'My client and I met with representatives from NBC’s Human Resources and Legal Departments at 6 p.m. on Monday for an interview that lasted several hours. Our impression at this point is that NBC acted quickly, as all companies should, when confronted with credible allegations of sexual misconduct in the workplace.'

“'While I am encouraged by NBC’s response to date, I am in awe of the courage my client showed to be the first to raise a complaint and to do so without making any demands other than the company do the right thing.'

"The Times met with the woman Monday afternoon, but she said she was not ready to come forward and tell her story publicly.

"Mr. Lauer’s co-host, Savannah Guthrie, announced the news on Today on Wednesday morning. Appearing on the verge of tears, Ms. Guthrie said, “All we can say is we are heartbroken; I’m heartbroken.”

"She described Mr. Lauer as 'a dear, dear friend,' and said she was 'heartbroken for the brave colleague who came forward to tell her story.'

"Calling Mr. Lauer’s dismissal part of a national reckoning, she continued, 'How do you reconcile your love for someone with the revelation that they have behaved badly?'

"Mr. Lauer’s termination was just the latest in a string of firings involving the very top stars in television news — coming after the ouster of Bill O’Reilly, of Fox News, last April and Charlie Rose, of CBS, earlier this month.

"But it also involves the most important part of the NBC News franchise, Today, which is a profit driver and highly rated morning program. Mr. Lauer, a co-anchor since 1997, was the centerpiece of the show.

"The Today staff learned the news shortly before going live. Giving the weather report, a visibly shaken Al Roker said, 'I’m still trying to process the news.' Soon after announcing the dismissal, Ms. Guthrie gripped the hand of Hoda Kotb, who was rushed in as an emergency substitute host.

"The move by NBC represents one of the few examples of a company taking pre-emptive action over sexual harassment complaints before any allegations had become public.

"Mr. Lauer’s dismissal was seized upon by President Trump, who went on to ask in a tweet when executives at NBC and Comcast, the network’s parent company, would 'be fired for putting out so much fake news.'”

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From The Hollywood Reporter: "Jeff Wachtel doesn't know if he's going to get an invitation to the royal wedding — but he should.

"The current chief content officer of NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment and president of Suits producer Universal Cable Productions helped give Meghan Markle — now engaged to Prince Harry — her first big break on the USA Network drama. The executive, who will move to London next year when he takes on a new role as president of NBCUniversal International Studios, cast Markle over another actress in her first series-regular role back in 2011 when he was co-president of USA Network. Markle, who before then was a case model for a season on NBC's Deal or No Deal,is engaged to Prince Harry and will exit Suits, on which she has been a series regular on all seven seasons, in early 2018 when the legal drama wraps its current season. (Production on season seven has already wrapped.)

"'The big question at the beginning was going to be her chemistry with Patrick J. Adams,' Wachtel tells The Hollywood Reporter about the early Suits casting process for an actress to take on the role of Rachel Zane, the paralegal who would become a love interest for Adams' Mike Ross.

"Markle was up for the part against Kim Shaw, an actress who Wachtel would go on to cast in MTV's short-lived dramedy Just Want My Pants Back, which was produced by the company (Hypnotic) behind Suits.

"'[Shaw] was a little bit more traditional blond girl next door; [the decision] was a tough one because they were both really good,' Wachtel says. 'And Meghan had a certain type of sparkle and was a little more urbane, a little more worldly.'

"As it turns out, it would be Markle's chemistry with Adams that would help her land the part.

"'One of the things that we needed at the beginning with Suits was Patrick's character comes in as the hottest thing in town: he's brilliant, has a photographic memory and fakes his way into being a lawyer and then he comes up against this girl who turns out to be the love of his life,' the exec says. 'We needed somebody who had a real authority to shut him down and still be the coolest thing around. And they had it right away. It was a lot of fun.'

"As Markle's relationship with Prince Harry grew more serious over the past year, Suits cast and crew, as well as executives at USA Network and UCP, had the feeling that a change was coming. Wachtel says he found out about their relationship more than a year ago and almost didn't believe it at first.

"'When I knew, [my reaction was like], "You're kidding!" You can't believe it. It's almost literally a fairy tale,' Wachtel says. 'And then it got more serious and everybody has been wonderful and professional about it.'

"While Wachtel isn't sure if Prince Harry has been to the Suits set (despite his visits to Toronto, where the show shoots), the production tightened security in a bid to protect Markle and allow the actress greater flexibility.

"'We had a host of security issues around things that we've all been dealing with,' he says. 'It was pretty crazy when the rumors were going around — "She's going to be gone for four or five days, do we think this is the time when she's going to meet the Queen?!" We'd have to change the call sheet because Meghan was going to be at Buckingham Palace. Everybody on the Suits team was great at being flexible about this once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing.'

"As for the timing of Markle's engagement — which arrived a few weeks after THR reported the actress would be exiting Suits — Wachtel is thankful that it worked out for everyone.

"'If this had happened in the first year or two, that would have been a challenge for us because the Mike [Adams] and Rachel [Markle] of it all is so foundational to the show's success,' he says. 'When you're in the seventh season, things evolve. It was the right timing in that way for us. Everybody has known that that was going to happen. And from all signs, they've been this delightful, happy couple and their relationship has evolved organically. It was time to take the next step. It's been fun having a member of your cast be on the front page of the New York Times.'"

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Per Deadline, "BuzzFeed, long the poster child for pure-digital growth, is shedding 100 jobs in a significant restructuring, and president Greg Coleman is transitioning into a new, unspecified role.

"The layoffs, confirmed in a staff memo from CEO Jonah Peretti, will affect mainly the company’s “business” unit. The group 'was built to support direct sold advertising but will need to bring in different, more diverse expertise,' Peretti wrote. 'As our strategy evolves, we need to evolve our organization too.'

"Other departments affected by the cuts include sales, creative, client services, ad solutions and marketing. BuzzFeed’s total workforce is about 1,700 employees.

"The news is a splash of cold water but not a complete surprise, given an earlier report in the Wall Street Journal that BuzzFeed was set to miss its annual revenue targets by an alarming 15%-20%.

"The narrative around digital media companies has taken a downturn lately. Mashable, another former highflier, which earlier this month was sold to Ziff-Davis for a reported $50 million, a fraction of the hundreds of millions it had sought.

"With its listicles, quizzes and clickable fare, blended with an increasing original video offering and serious enterprise reporting, BuzzFeed was considered to be a digital brand capable of surmounting many of headwinds hitting other sites. The company’s fast start drew investments from the traditional-media likes of NBCUniversal.

"In recent months, though, the digital advertising climate has become more volatile. The marketplace, which has been dominated by Facebook and Google, also has been beset by “brand safety” issues, with many blue-chip advertisers wary of having their ads placed via automated processes next to objectionable content."

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Per TheWrap, "ESPN is laying off 150 employees today, the Disney-owned sports media company announced. The majority of the job cuts will come from its studio production, digital content, and technology sectors.

"Here is President John Skipper’s (pictured above) full memo from this morning, informing his staff about the latest round of position eliminations:

Today we are informing approximately 150 people at ESPN that their jobs are being eliminated.

We appreciate their contributions, and will assist them as much as possible in this difficult moment with severance, a 2017 bonus, the continuation of health benefits and outplacement services. They will also appreciate your support.

The majority of the jobs eliminated are in studio production, digital content, and technology and they generally reflect decisions to do less in certain instances and re-direct resources.

We will continue to invest in ways which will best position us to serve the modern sports fan and support the success of our business.

John

"We knew this was coming by year’s-end, but the number is new. The tally also higher than ESPN’s June bloodbath, though that one received more attention as the loses were all on-air personalities. This time around, the layoffs are impacting people behind the scenes, mostly at the low and mid-levels, TheWrap is told. It sounds like there will be a sprinkling of executives let go as well — ones that have been with ESPN for a long time.

"Contrary to what some reporters expected, the impact to flagship show “SportsCenter” will be minimal, we’re told.

"Last month, TheWrap‘s ESPN sources said that what ended up as today’s round would be all about efficiency and cutting down on duplication. After all, the media landscape is nothing like it used to be, and few places are feeling the effects as much as ESPN.

"It’s been a rough couple of years for the 'Worldwide Leader in Sports,' and cord-cutting has disproportionately impacted the priciest non-premium cable channel. That subscriber loss has been hard to absorb, particularly with the pricey talent contracts and sports rights ESPN had compiled over the years. Thus, this."