Wednesday November 7, 2018

Rating last night’s midterm coverage.

And here’s more on the return of Borat last night.

TNT has canceled Good Behavior.

NBC has canceled Reverie.

USA has renewed The Purge.

The season 13 finale of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia airs tonight.

How did Tony become the most likable person on The Challenge?

“The assault case against former South Carolina treasurer and Southern Charm reality television star Thomas Ravenel will proceed toward trial, a judge ruled Monday. Ravenel, 56, was arrested in late September after a woman who worked for him as a nanny reported to Charleston police in May that he sexually assaulted her three years ago at Ravenel’s Charlotte Street home. Ravenel faces a charge of second-degree assault and battery, a misdemeanor that carries up to three years in prison. A trial date has not been set.”

The Alec Baldwin Show is coming off ABC’s Sunday schedule. Beginning Sunday, Nov. 18, ABC will air repeats of Shark Tank in the talk show’s Sunday 10 PM time slot. Baldwin’s talk show will return to the air on Dec. 8 in a new time slot, Saturday, 10 PM, following the end of college football.” They should have yanked this from the air, no questions asked.

“Search-technology company Foursquare wants to get in on the race to devise a better yardstick to measure the effectiveness of TV commercials. Sandwich-chain Subway has agreed to use Foursquare’s attribution technology that measures how effective TV ads are at driving consumers to stores, restaurants and other retail outlets. The partnership helps to illustrate the growing demand Madison Avenue is putting not only on how many consumers their commercial reach – typically gauged by data providers such as Nielsen – but also on whether those ads actually prod potential customers to consider a purchase of the product being advertised to them. The technology ‘allows us to have even more accountability for every dollar spent on behalf of our franchisees,’ says Melissa Sutton, Subway’s director of media. By attempting to tie commercials to purchase behavior, ‘we’re able to gain a more holistic understanding of the role TV ads play in our broader media plan, and identify the combinations of media, channels, and creatives that drive the most return on investment.’”

Louis C.K. performed a 70-minute set in Paris on Tuesday, where he confirmed that he’s dating French comedian Blanche Gardin.

“Russell Crowe will play Roger Ailes in Showtime’s new limited series, and PEOPLE can reveal the first look at the actor’s astounding transformation. Production began this week in New York City. In an exclusive set photo, a balding Crowe, 54, can be seen leaning on a cane, wearing a suit and a red polka-dotted tie and holding a pair of glasses in one hand. The show will tell the story of the late former Fox News chief, who abruptly exited his post in the wake of multiple allegations of sexual harassment in 2016. He died 10 months later, on May 10, 2017, at age 77 after falling and hitting his head in his bathroom. The project is based on extensive reporting by Gabriel Sherman for his bestselling book, The Loudest Voice in the Room, for which he interviewed more than 600 people. It will touch on the defining events of Ailes’ life, told through multiple points of view.”


The Albuquerque Journal reports that “After much speculation, the Breaking Bad movie will begin filming soon in Albuquerque.

“According to the New Mexico Film Office, the movie Greenbrier will begin production in the Duke City mid-November through early February.

“The film office wouldn’t confirm or deny that the project was a Breaking Bad film.

“But a source close to the project confirmed the production.

“According to the logline, Greenbrier tracks the escape of a kidnapped man and his quest for freedom.

“‘We are happy to welcome Greenbrier and Sony Studios to New Mexico,’ said New Mexico State Film Office Director Nick Maniatis. ‘For years, we’ve built up the film industry in New Mexico and strengthened our film incentives; now, we’re seeing success after success for the film industry in our state.’

“According to the N.M. Film Office, the production will employ approximately 300 N.M. crew members, 16 N.M. actors and approximately 450 N.M. background talent.

“This is the first project for Vince Gilligan – who created Breaking Bad and co-created the spinoff, Better Call Saul – after signing a three-year deal with Sony Pictures Television in July.

“The move to stay with Sony comes at a time when A-list showrunners are being courted by Netflix and other streaming services for production pacts.

“Details on which characters will be returning from the TV series to the film have not been released.

“The Emmy Award-winning series was set and filmed in Albuquerque for six years.

Breaking Bad is the story of Walter H. White, played by Bryan Cranston, a struggling high school chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with advanced lung cancer at the beginning of the series.

“He turns to a life of crime, producing and selling methamphetamine with a former student, Jesse Pinkman, played by Aaron Paul, with the aim of securing his family’s financial future before he dies.

“The New Mexico film industry and Sony Pictures Television have worked together on both Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul.”


LL Cool J and Ice Cube are joining forces -- but it ain't about music, it's about sports TV domination. 

TMZ Sports has learned LL is now a part of a powerful group looking to bid on 22 regional sports channels -- including the YES Network -- that Disney is being forced to sell off by the Justice Dept. 

“Long story short ... Disney got the 22 stations as part of its $71 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox. But, officials believe that since Disney is already the majority owner of ESPN, controlling the 22 sports stations would give them too much power in the sports TV landscape. 

“The 22 stations involved in the deal include everything from Fox Sports San Diego to Fox Sports Arizona, Fox Sports Detroit, Fox Sports Southwest and more. 

“But, the crown jewel is the YES Network -- based in New York -- they have the rights to broadcast Yankees games. Disney thinks YES alone is worth between $5 and $6 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal. 

“The deal for all 22 stations is expected to be anywhere from $15 to $25 billion. 

“Some of the potential bidders that have emerged are real heavy hitters -- from private equity titans like Apollo Global Management and Blackstone Group to the Sinclair Broadcast Group. 

“But, Ice Cube and LL ain't exactly lightweights either -- and they've got a powerful partner ... billionaire Alex and Ani jewelry founder Carolyn Rafaelian. 

“Sources tell us the group is also in talks with other sports and cultural icons who are interested in participating in the bid. 

“Initial bids are due Nov. 8.”


Per TheWrap, “Showtime is launching a companion podcast for its upcoming limited series from Ben Stiller, Escape at Dannemora, that will delve into the real-life events that inspired the drama.

“The limited series, which is directed and executive produced by Stiller, is based on the 2015 prison break from Clinton Correctional Facility. Two escapees — both convicted murderers — broke out of the Upstate New York facility, aided by a married female prison employee who reportedly carried on affairs with both men while supervising them in the tailor shop. It spawned the largest manhunt in the history of New York State.

“The podcast, which is produced by Wondery’s Real Crime Profile, will dive deeper into the real-life events and feature interviews with cast-members, real people involved in the case and the creators.

“The first two episodes feature interviews with executive producers and writers Brett Johnson and Michael Tolkin on how the project came together and their experience researching. Episodes three and four will feature interviews with the real-life investigators on the case: Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott and Deputy Inspector General Jim Davis. Over the course of the pod series, there will also be interviews with Stiller and one of the stars, Bonnie Hunt.

“The podcast will run every Wednesday through January 2.

“The series stars Benicio Del Toro and Paul Dano as the two escapees, Richard Matt and David Sweat, while Patricia Arquette plays Joyce ‘Tilly’ Mitchell, the prison employee who, after becoming sexually involved with both men, assists them in their jailbreak. The cast also includes Hunt, Eric Lange and David Morse.

“Produced by Showtime, Escape at Dannemora is written and executive produced by Brett Johnson and Michael Tolkin. Michael De Luca, Bryan Zuriff, Nicky Weinstock and Bill Carraro also serve as executive producers.

“The series will premiere on Nov. 18 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.”

From The New York Post: “Cooking shows don’t normally include puppets or fake eyeballs on the menu, but The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell is anything but ordinary.

“In its star’s own words, the Netflix series is ‘a mix between Donna Reed and Morticia Addams. But also maybe like if Marilyn Munster grew up and gave up on dating too much and started running her own house.’

“McConnell, 37, is an artist, photographer, model, and baker who achieved online celebrity when photos of her spooky edible creations attracted attention (she currently has 445,000 Instagram followers).

“‘I started baking, not thinking [a show] could ever happen. I was just doing it for fun — weird, creepy stuff,’ McConnell tells The Post. ‘Werewolves and snakes, things like that.’

“Of course, in this day and age, Internet fame leads to book and TV deals. Her book (Deceptive Desserts: A Lady’s Guide to Baking Bad!) came out in 2016, and her series debuted last month. “Curious Creations” is one of several original cooking shows added to the streaming giant’s roster. Nearly 50 million accounts have watched at least one food-related Netflix original series or documentary this year.

“‘Reddit is what brought my work to the largest audience, and I just kept doing stuff and I got a book deal,’ she says. ‘I had been approached a lot about doing reality TV — but I like things to be magical, and there isn’t a lot of that in reality.’

“In each episode of Curious Creations, McConnell, dressed as a 1950s TV housewife (with a Goth flair), performs baking demonstrations of ghoulish treats such as edible eyeballs or a Ouija board cookie.

“She is not alone in the kitchen. During her segments, she’s entertained by a peanut gallery of puppets — a mummified cat, a raccoon — made by the Jim Henson Company.

“Although McConnell is self-taught, she says she finds inspiration online.

“‘If you have a question, there’s a video for everything. So that’s kind of been my teacher throughout this, and it still is,’ she says. ‘If I have a question I’m not sure about, I’ll Google it to see if I can find an instructional video. There is a lot that you just kind of make up on your own, and find out what works and what doesn’t.’

“Her fascination with the macabre comes from her childhood.

“‘I grew up watching The Munsters and Dark Shadows and all of these creepy old shows,’ she says. ‘And I loved the 1990’s Addams Family movies, and obviously Tim Burton was a huge influence. Edward Scissorhands is probably the most impactful movie I’ve ever seen. So when we started talking about what kind of show could be made, those were the touchstones that I kept referring to.’

“A lifelong Californian, McConnell lives outside of Los Angeles in a town appropriately named Twin Peaks.

“‘I’m not going to say [the David Lynch connection] didn’t strongly influence my purchase of the house,’ she says. ‘I never really fit in, in California. It’s my dream to find a big Victorian manor on the East Coast and fix it up with all sorts of spooky elements. I would say that’s my biggest objective in life at the moment.’

“And although she says she didn’t steer Curious Creations towards children, she says trick-or-treaters were excited to see her this Halloween.

“‘We completely set out not to make a kid’s show. I wanted it to have all these things I loved as a kid, but specifically geared towards adults,’ she says. ‘But having little kids run up to you and be so excited to meet you, like you’re something special to them — it’s super magical.’”


From Variety: Nearly two months after Leslie Moonves’ ouster from CBS Corp., the search for his successor has been sluggish and only now starting in earnest. But it won’t be a speedy process.

“The word that the CBS board’s evaluation of candidates could take as long as four to six months speaks volumes about the challenge CBS faces in lining up a new permanent leader. The final decision will say even more about where the board sees CBS heading.

“Fundamentally, the board needs to decide if the CEO is going to be tasked with piloting the ship for the long term, or whether the job will require overseeing an auction of the storied broadcaster, or the re-integration of CBS and Viacom, or the pursuit of a transformative acquisition. Those are very different scenarios that demand specific leadership skills. CBS has tapped the Korn Ferry consulting firm to help with the headhunting.

“Compounding the task is the fact that half of the directors on the 10-person board are new to CBS, as of Sept. 9. The CBS board was shaken up in the settlement that sealed Moonves’ departure and ended the litigation that erupted in May as the CEO’s regime launched a battle against its controlling shareholder, Shari Redstone’s National Amusements Inc. Moonves’ abrupt exit has coincided with the departures of a number of other longtime senior executives at the company previously known for the stability of its management. The changes have been dizzying for insiders.

“The better news for CBS is that the company’s foundations are solid, as evidenced by strong third-quarter earnings reported Nov. 1. Joe Ianniello, CBS’ president and acting CEO, is well liked on Wall Street and seen as adequately equipped to steer the company in the short term while the board deliberates.

“Ianniello is a candidate for the permanent job, and he’s been acting like a full-fledged CEO in the last few weeks by making corporate-level executive appointments to solidify the immediate post-Moonves leadership plan.

“Within CBS, the post is seen as Ianniello’s to lose. He has the advantage of strong internal support — numerous senior CBS executives consider themselves to be Team Joe. But Ianniello has also faced strains in his relationship with Redstone given his close association with Moonves and his support, along with a majority of the previous CBS board, of the legal gambit to dilute National Amusements’ voting control of CBS.

“The uncertainty around CBS’ future is sure to be a complicating factor in the CEO search. Top prospects may not be inclined to sign on to a company that seems likely to change hands in the next year or two. The presence of Redstone’s National Amusements as the controlling shareholder with a firm grip on the company could also be a turn off for top CEO talent. Names that have emerged in the past few weeks range from former Disney/ABC TV Group chief Anne Sweeney to her former Disney colleague Tom Staggs to Strauss Zelnick, one of the newly appointed CBS board members who is now interim chairman.

“As the CBS board begins to sort out its leadership options, here’s a look at four scenarios in play:

Scenario No. 1: CBS is put up for sale

CBS Corp. is small by the standard of its other media peers, and it is getting smaller relative to the M&A activity that has swallowed up 21st Century Fox and Time Warner and promises to transform Disney and AT&T. Moonves had been frustrated that CBS was not able to engage in deal talks with interested suitors such as Verizon and AT&T because of NAI’s overwhelming control of voting shares in the company.

After the new board completes the review of CBS operations — division heads have been trekking to CBS’ Black Rock headquarters during the past few weeks to make presentations — it may well conclude that a sale is the best option for shareholders. In this scenario, Ianniello would be the logical choice to steer the company through an auction. Having previously served as chief operating officer and chief financial officer, Ianniello knows the company’s finances and balance sheet better than anyone else. He spearheaded the company’s spinoff of its outdoor advertising and radio divisions with the intention of honing CBS’ focus on high-end content production and distribution.

Scenario No. 2: CBS remains a standalone company

CBS has had a long run of performing well despite a topsy turvy environment for the TV business. The board may be impressed by what it hears in the long-term planning presented by division heads and decide to keep going it alone. In this scenario, the choice of successor to Moonves is a bet that CBS can continue on the path laid out by the previous regime or forge an alternative that would also keep dividends flowing and shareholders happy. The fly-solo approach would likely require a big commitment of new resources from NAI or another investor to keep CBS competitive in the arms race for content.

CBS to date has prospered through its embrace of digital streaming — it was the first of the traditional media giants to launch a standalone subscription platform with CBS All Access in 2014. CBS has also seen a windfall in SVOD content licensing coin during the past decade as Netflix, Amazon, et al spend big to stock up their services with library content. But as the marketplace shifts, CBS, like other media companies, faces the question of whether to go all in — as Disney and AT&T are doing — or remain a smaller fish in the pond.

In this scenario, an outsider seems most likely to come in as CEO.

Scenario No. 3: CBS is re-merged with Viacom

There’s no doubt that a reunion for CBS and Viacom remains a strong possibility. Redstone has made clear her interest in re-merging the companies that were brought together by her father, Viacom and CBS chairman emeritus Sumner Redstone, through his acquisition of CBS in 2000 and split up again in 2006. Opposition to such a deal has been strong within CBS. That’s partly because adding Viacom’s two dozen basic cable channels to CBS and Showtime would directly counter CBS’ strategy of commanding top dollar in carriage and retransmission consent fees from MVPDs for its two must-have channels.

But now that global content licensing has grown in importance to CBS’ bottom line, the prospect of gaining access to Viacom’s IP and its bigger network platforms could be more appealing. Viacom itself is in a healthier position than it was two years ago when NAI went public with its re-merging effort. Redstone in 2016 initiated an overhaul of Viacom’s board and executive leadership, similar to the process now under way at CBS.

Moonves had balked at rejoining with Viacom, seeing it as a rescue mission for the struggling other half of the Redstone empire and counter to the interests of CBS shareholders. NAI’s settlement agreement with Moonves included a commitment that NAI would not propose a CBS-Viacom merger for another 24 months. But there’s nothing to stop the boards of CBS and Viacom from pursuing such a deal if they are so inclined. If a CBS-Viacom courtship begins anew sooner rather than later, Viacom CEO Bob Bakish would be in the pole position to run the combined operation.

With content licensing becoming such a driver of CBS’ fortunes, the case could be made that gaining access to the trove of IP held by Viacom’s cable channels and Paramount Pictures would be beneficial to the enlarged company. CBS and Viacom would also have expanded U.S. launch platforms for shows that could be sold around the world.

But Wall Street analysts have been divided on whether CBS and Viacom are better off together or apart. One influential voice among media biz watchers, Todd Juenger of Sanford Bernstein & Co., remains dead set against reunification.

Scenario No. 4: CBS seeks to grow through acquisitions

CBS could turn the tables and pursue a major acquisition, if NAI will support such a move. Sony Pictures Entertainment, Lionsgate, Univision, and MGM are among the sizable targets out there that could be a fit with CBS’ existing assets.

In this instance, Ianniello’s skills as a dealmaker and financing whiz would be prized in sizing up the acquisition targets. If the CBS board becomes comfortable with its acting CEO, Ianniello would be in a good position to advocate for CBS to bulk up in order to remain competitive.

So far, sources at the top of CBS have stayed tight-lipped about the new board’s thinking. With the company in solid shape, the board has the luxury of time to consider a myriad of options, from selling out to buying big, as it looks to fill the seat at the top.“

This article has been condensed.