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At&T, Time Warner Merger Review Reaches ‘Advanced Stage’ at Justice Department (Report)

1 hour ago

The union of At&T and Time Warner is looking more likely as talks on merger conditions between At&T and Justice Department officials have reached an “advanced stage,” according to a report Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal.

The Journal reported that the discussions about conditions that would be required to secure federal approval of the $85.4 billion transaction are centering around concerns that At&T could give favorable treatment on its DirecTV platforms to Time Warner-owned content. Another issue has been how the telco giant would be able to handle consumer data mined from its wireless subscriber base and viewership of its channels.

The focus on potential merger conditions are seen as a sign that the Trump administration will not throw up roadblocks to the deal, despite President Trump’s vociferous criticism of CNN, part of Time Warner. The Journal noted that Time Warner’s stock price has been on the rise in recent weeks, another »


- Cynthia Littleton

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TV Review: ‘The Tick’ on Amazon

1 hour ago

It’s easy to see why “The Tick” has been revived again and again. Born as an unlikely comic-book hero in the ‘80s, the title character’s relentless optimism, which allows him to bluster through any situation with a smile on his lips, is perennially winning. And there’s no doubt that at this moment in time, America could use a big blue savior with a good heart and the strength of 10 men. The Tick’s grip on reality is always in doubt — his sweet obliviousness is part of his charm — but his belief in the inevitable defeat of evil is certainly attractive.

However, Amazon’s reboot of “The Tick,” which follows a clever ‘90s animated series and a much-loved 2001 live-action comedy, makes some curious choices. It’s grounded in a somewhat dour version of reality, which blunts some of the comedy’s goofier edges. And structurally speaking, like other streaming shows, it »


- Maureen Ryan

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TV News Roundup: Conan O’Brien Heads to Israel for TV Special

1 hour ago

In today’s roundup, Conan O’Brien is taking “Conan” to Israel, and NBC helms a new special on Princess Diana.

Specials

TBS is taking “Conan” internationally for the seventh time in two years as host Conan O’Brien travels to Israel. “Conan Without Boarders: Israel” will be a primetime special airing Tuesday, Sept. 19 at 10 p.m. O’Brien plans to visit Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, among other locations yet to be announced. “Conan” airs Monday through Thursday at 11 p.m. on TBS. The show is produced by Conaco LLC, with Jeff Ross serving as executive producer.

“Diana, 7 Days,” a two-hour documentary capturing the week following the 1997 death of Princess Diana, will air on Friday, Sept. 1 at 8 p.m. on NBC. The film documents the time between Princess Diana’s tragic death and her funeral, and the effect it had on the United Kingdom and the world. This marks the first time her two sons, Prince William »


- Rebecca Rubin

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BBC Acquires ‘The Assassination of Gianni Versace’ for the U.K.

1 hour ago

The BBC has acquired FX’s anthology series “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” for the U.K. The second season of “American Crime Story” will air on BBC Two in 2018.

The channel also aired the show’s award-winning first season, “The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” which was widely acclaimed by British critics. The follow-up, “The Assassination of Gianni Versace,” follows the events surrounding the death of the legendary fashion designer in the summer of 1997. Edgar Ramirez stars as Versace, with Oscar-winner Penelope Cruz (pictured) playing Donatella Versace, Darren Criss as serial killer Andrew Cunanan and Ricky Martin as Versace’s partner, Antonio D’Amico.

“With ‘The People vs. O.J. Simpson,’ the brilliant Ryan Murphy and his team crafted a unique and utterly compelling television event which managed to get the nation talking once more about one of the biggest cases in history,” said Sue Deeks, head »


- Robert Mitchell

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Justin Theroux Cast to Guest Star on Emma Stone, Jonah Hill Netflix Series ‘Maniac’

2 hours ago

Justin Theroux has been cast in a guest starring role in Emma Stone and Jonah Hill’s upcoming Netflix series “Maniac,” Variety has confirmed.

Details on the nature of Theroux’s character are unknown, but the series is a dark comedy based on a Norwegian series. It follows a man who lives a fantasy life in his dreams, but in reality, is locked up at an institution. Both Hill and Stone will play patients in the institution.

Theroux most recently starred in the HBO series “The Leftovers,” which ended its run on the premium cable network after three seasons in June. He has also appeared in the TV shows “Six Feet Under” and “Parks and Recreation.” On the film side, he has appeared in films such as “American Psycho,” “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle,” and “The Girl on the Train.” Theroux has also found success as a screenwriter, having worked on the scripts for “Tropic Thunder,” “Iron Man 2 »


- Joe Otterson

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MSNBC Ranks as No. 1 Cable Network in Total Viewers for First Time Ever

2 hours ago

MSNBC ranked as the number one network across all of cable in total viewers for the first time in its history, according to Nielsen data.

For Wednesday, Aug. 16, MSNBC averaged 1.52 million viewers for the total day across all of cable, edging out second place Fox News, who averaged 1.5 million. CNN ranked fourth among all cable networks for the day with 1.13 million total viewers. Nickelodeon was third with 1.17 million. However, in the key adults 25-54 demographic, CNN was number one among the cable news networks for the total day, averaging 381,000 viewers in that measure. Fox News was second in the demo for total day with 353,000 viewers, and MSNBC was third with 343,000.

In primetime, MSNBC was also first in total viewers among the cable news networks with 2.61 million viewers. Fox News was second with 2.4 million. CNN was third with 1.59 million. In the key demo for primetime, MSNBC was first with 613,000. Fox News narrowly outpaced CNN for second place with »


- Joe Otterson

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Tyra Banks: A Day in the Life of the Reality Host and Producer

3 hours ago

Earlier this year, Tyra Banks made a bit of news: not only had she decided to return as host to her show “America’s Next Top Model” on VH1, but she was tapped to replace Nick Cannon on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.”

The obvious question was: how will she be able to do both?

“Oh my god, it was a crazy concern,” Banks tells Variety during an interview in her trailer on the set of “Top Model.” Her already full plate also included teaching at Stanford, gearing up to film the sequel to Disney’s “Life Size,” and adapting to life as a first-time mother to her one-year-old son, York.

“My assistant and my agent and everybody got together and looked at it all and said, ‘How can we do this where she doesn’t go crazy?’” Banks recalls. The supermodel-turned-television-powerhouse says she figured out how to organize her schedule into “chunks” to keep her »


- Elizabeth Wagmeister

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Fox Alum Jeffrey Glaser Joins Sony Pictures TV Studios as Current Programming Chief

3 hours ago

Fox veteran Jeffrey Glaser has joined Sony Pictures Television Studios as head of current programming.

Glaser will succeed Kim Rozenfeld as exec VP of U.S. current programming. Glaser’s appointment, effective Sept. 5, marks the first major executive change under the new executive regime at Sony’s TV production arm, now led by president Jeff Frost and co-presidents Chris Parnell and Jason Clodfelter. Rozenfeld had been with the studio since 2011.

“With over 20 years of experience in this space, Jeffrey is a talented executive and a terrific addition to our new team at Spts,” Frost, Parnell and Clodfelter wrote in a memo to staffers. The trio said Rozenfeld has decided to “start a new chapter” of his career, and they expressed gratitude for “his years of commitment and dedication to Spts, and his immeasurable contributions to some of our greatest successes.”

Glaser spent nearly 20 years on the Fox lot, spending most of that time as a current programming »


- Cynthia Littleton

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CW Developing Drama Series Based on Female Gladiator Novel ‘The Valiant’ (Exclusive)

3 hours ago

The CW is developing a one-hour drama series based on Lesley Livingston’s novel “The Valiant,” Variety has learned exclusively.

The series would follow a Celtic princess on the run from an arranged marriage and a sheltered life who is captured and forced into slavery under Julius Caesar. She ends up training among the first wave of female Gladiators to compete in the Colosseum for fame, fortune and, ultimately, her freedom.

Laurie Arent will write and executive produce, with Mary Beth Basile also executive producing. Warner Bros. Television will produce. Arent most recently wrote and produced for “NCIS: New Orleans,” and has also worked on NBC’s “Life” and Lifetime’s “The Client List.” Basile was an associate producer on ABC’s “October Road” and most recently executive produced the pilot “Evil Men” for USA Network. Both Arent and Basile are repped by Wme.

Should the project get ordered to series, it »


- Joe Otterson

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‘The Tick’ Cast Discusses Themes of Compassion, How Show Could Help Heal a Divided America

4 hours ago

Sixteen years after Fox canceled the live-action, satirical superhero television show “The Tick,” Amazon Studios has revived the cult comedy for an original 12-episode series. Season 1 tells the story of how the Tick — an overly optimistic and earnest superhero played by Peter Serafinowicz — united with his non-powerful, accountant sidekick (Griffin Newman) to battle supervillain the Terror (Jackie Earle Haley). Unlike the dozens of other comic-book movies and TV adaptations, “The Tick” pokes fun at the cliched conventions of superhero narratives with witty banter and jokes. But, at the center of the show’s storyline is a heartfelt message about love, compassion, respect, and justice.

The themes behind “The Tick” have more relevance than ever in the wake of the white nationalist rally that erupted into violence in Charlottesville, Va. last weekend, and the strenuous political climate that is continuing to divide the country. At the show’s lavish premiere in New York on Wednesday evening, many »


- Paul Chi

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TV Shows Getting Reboots in 2017-18

4 hours ago

These are the shows that are getting the revival treatment in 2017-18. »

- Jacob Bryant

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Brenda Song, Jason Biggs to Star in Freeform’s ‘Angry Angel’ (Exclusive)

5 hours ago

Brenda Song and Jason Biggs will star in the Freeform original Christmas movie “Angry Angel,” Variety has learned exclusively.

The film, which began production this week in Toronto, follows a young woman turned angel, Allison Pyke (Song), who is stuck on Earth and can’t seem to do what is required in order to get into heaven. When the love of her life, Patrick (Ricky Mabe), shows up in New York City, it complicates Pyke’s journey, as well as frustrates her angel mentor Jason Biggs (Biggs). The not-so-merry situation also turns into an unexpected love-triangle with her friend with sometimes benefits, Barker (Andy Favreau). The film will also star Andrew Bachelor.

Freeform was formerly ABC Family and is part of the Disney-abc television group. Song has a long history with Disney television, having starred in “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” and “The Suite Life on Deck.” She has also appeared on “Key and Peele,” “Scandal »


- Joe Otterson

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Fox Gives Put Pilot Order to Sitcom Revival Spoof With ‘Big Sick’s’ Michael Showalter Directing

5 hours ago

Fox has handed a put pilot commitment to a single-camera comedy series that spoofs the recent trend of TV series revivals, Variety has learned.

Currently titled “Revival,” the series would follow Elliot, formerly the little kid from a beloved 1980s family sitcom and now living a normal life, who reluctantly gets sucked back into the show’s revival with his old TV family.

Michael Showalter, who recently directed the hit indie comedy “The Big Sick,” will direct and executive produce. “Son of Zorn” executive producer Sally Bradford McKenna will write and executive produce. Chris McKenna will also executive produce along with “Fresh Off the Boat” executive producer Nahnatchka Khan and Mandy Summers, with the latter two producing through Khan’s Fierce Baby Productions banner. 20th Century Fox Television will produce in association with Fierce Baby. Bradford McKenna is currently under an overall deal with 20th TV, and Khan is set up under a pod deal with the »


- Joe Otterson

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Documentaries Double-Dip for Emmy and Oscar Consideration

7 hours ago

In the past decade, half of all documentaries nominated for an Academy Award went on to receive a Primetime, News and Doc or Intl. Emmy nomination.

Unlike “Moonlight,” “Spotlight” and “12 Years a Slave,” nonfiction feature Oscar winners including “CitizenFour,” “Taxi to the Dark Side” and “Born Into Brothels” can also tout an Emmy win.

Why? Because documentaries are by and large a product of television or digital platforms and not film studios. Without funding from small-screen distributors such as HBO, PBS, A&E and streaming services including Netflix and Amazon, the Oscar feature documentary category wouldn’t exist.

But docu filmmakers, similar to narrative filmmakers, want the same thing: for their film to be seen in a movie theater with an audience. So outlets, including HBO and PBS, have selectively facilitated that desire for primarily two reasons: to please directors and perhaps more importantly, to qualify for an Academy Award, which »


- Addie Morfoot

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Judith Light on Singing Alanis Morissette on ‘Transparent,’ Why Broadway Feels Like Home

7 hours ago

Judith Light sings! The actress, known for everything from TV work (“One Life to Live,” “Who’s the Boss?” “Ugly Betty”) to Tony-winning stage turns (“Other Desert Cities,” “The Assembled Parties”), is up for an Emmy for her role as matriarch Shelly in Amazon’s “Transparent.” Her most head-turning moment in season three: singing Alanis Morissette on a cruise ship in the finale.

Have you been a singer all this time and we just never knew?

It’s so funny; people have been coming to me with singing parts now! It hasn’t been something that I’ve done a lot of. When I was at Carnegie Mellon University, I went to Europe and we performed at all the Army bases in Germany. Paula Wagner and I were double cast as Adelaide in “Guys and Dolls.”

With season four of “Transparent” dropping next month, what episodes in season three do you think of as big moments for »


- Gordon Cox

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Reality TV Hosts Bring Different Styles to Their Shows and Emmy Race

7 hours ago

The race for reality and reality competition host trophies got pretty interesting this year, with nominees representing a wide range of styles.

There are two returning nominees — past winners RuPaul Charles (VH1’s “RuPaul’s Drag Race”) plus Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn (Lifetime’s “Project Runway”) — joining four newcomers: Alec Baldwin (ABC’s “Match Game”), W. Kamau Bell (CNN’s “United Shades of America With W. Kamau Bell”), Gordon Ramsay (Fox’s “MasterChef Junior”) and Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg (VH1’s “Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party”).

“To be in the host category, up against those people? I can’t even get into that party,” says Bell, a first-time nominee for host. “It’s an honor to be included.”

That said, Bell doesn’t feel like a host in the traditional sense.

“The show works best when I’m a person experiencing life on camera and looking for interesting conversations,” he »


- Rob Owen

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Donald Trump’s Presidency Yields Boom in Satirical Comedy TV Series, Apps

8 hours ago

Donald Trump’s accidental jobs-creation program? Generating a huuuuge windfall for comedy writers, producers and digital entrepreneurs.

To be sure, it’s hard to find humor in the current crisis Trump has brought on himself — after defending the white nationalists who fomented a violent rally in Charlottesville, Va., and saying it’s “foolish” to remove “beautiful statues and monuments” of Confederate generals.

But overall, his epically turbulent presidency and egomaniacal personality have produced a flood of TV and digital satire, including a wave of apps whose entire point is to make fun of him.

American politics has always been good for the comedy business, dating back to George Washington and continuing on through the rise of political cartoons in the 19th century to Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show.” However, experts say Trump is unique among modern presidents in yielding a bounty of satirical content, while the internet has made it possible for wags to boot up »


- Todd Spangler

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‘The Jetsons’ Live-Action Series in the Works at ABC

8 hours ago

A “Jetsons” live-action series has scored a put pilot order at ABC, Variety has learned.

Based on the classic Hanna-Barbera cartoon, the series would be a multi-cam sitcom set 100 years in the future that follows the exploits of the Jetson family.

Robert Zemeckis will executive produce along with Jack Rapke via their Compari Entertainment banner. Gary Janetti, who has written for and produced shows like “Family Guy” and “Will & Grace,” will write and executive produce. Compari’s Jackie Levine will serve as a co-executive producer. Warner Bros. Television will produce in association with Nickelby Inc. and Compari.

The original “Jetsons” animated series aired for 24 episodes on ABC from 1962-1963 in primetime as a futuristic counterpart to the pre-historic animated sitcom “The Flintstones.” It followed George, Jane, Judy, and Elroy Jetson along with their robot maid Rosie and family dog Astro. The series was later revived by Hanna-Barbera in 1985 in syndication with 41 new episodes being produced. The »


- Joe Otterson

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TV Ratings: ‘Marlon’ Starts Solid on NBC

9 hours ago

The series debut of NBC’s comedy “Marlon” scored the second most-watched new summer comedy premiere on the Big 4 broadcast networks in 10 years, according to Nielsen overnight data.

Airing at 9 p.m., “Marlon” averaged a 1.3 rating in adults 18-49 and 5.4 million total viewers. That is one of the best premieres for a summer comedy series since CBS’ “Creature Comforts” nabbed 6.2 million viewers in 2007. Earlier this summer, the Tuesday timeslot debut of ABC’s “Downward Dog” drew 5.7 million viewers, but that series was ultimately canceled. A second episode of “Marlon” at 9:30 p.m. dropped to a 1.0 and 4.1 million viewers, losing approximately 23% of its audience in the key demo and 24% in total viewers.

Earlier on NBC, “America’s Got Talent” (2.1, 10.7 million) was the highest-rated and most-watched show of the night.

On CBS, “Big Brother” (1.9, 6.3 million) was even. A new episode of “Salvation” at 9 p.m. (0.5, 3.1 million) was also even, while a second episode at 10 p.m »


- Joe Otterson

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‘The Tick’ Star Griffin Newman Opens Up About His First Big Break as an Unlikely Action Hero

9 hours ago

When I first became friends with Griffin Newman, he was an actor whose biggest screen credit was the guy Kevin Costner spills coffee on in “Draft Day” — and I was a freelancer with no idea if I’d ever get a full-time job. Since then, things have improved for both of us, and with Newman’s new series “The Tick” debuting on Amazon, I’m in the unprecedented position of recusing myself from a review. (My colleague Maureen Ryan will be covering it instead). With that caveat, I thought it might be fun to chat with my friend about how much his life has changed, and how jumping from being a fan to having fans is a unique transition. I talked with Newman about his upcoming role starring as Arthur Everest in “The Tick” — a role that has already generated fan enthusiasm — and now that he’s making rent, his most fervent desire: an action figure of »


- Sonia Saraiya

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