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Solar Eclipse: TV Aims to Capture Emotion Around Moon’s ‘Magical’ Moment

1 hour ago

For TV news producers, delivering live coverage of Monday’s total solar eclipse will be akin to covering a celestial sporting event and a cross-country tailgate party at the same time.

The challenge is to be sure to have maximum impact in the big moment — the estimated two minutes and change when parts of the country will be darkened by the shadow of the moon — and plenty of on-the-ground material to capture the revelry before and after.

“I’m looking at it as a giant block party,” said Marc Burstein, senior executive producer of special events for ABC News. “We’re going to have really good storytellers on the ground that will be able to bring you the excitement from where they are.”

ABC News’ live coverage from 1 p.m.-3 p.m. Et will feature reports from 12 locations within the “path of totality,” the 73-mile wide swath in which the total eclipse will be visible. The »


- Cynthia Littleton

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Bill Nye Q&A: Solar Eclipse Offers Chance to ‘Appreciate the Cosmos’

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“We’ll be going wild,” Bill Nye says of his plan for experiencing Monday’s total solar eclipse from a prime viewing spot at Homestead National Monument in Beatrice, Neb.

Nye became the face of science education in the U.S. thanks to his 1990s run as the host of PBS’ “Bill Nye the Science Guy.” He returned to TV this year as host of the Netflix series “Bill Nye Saves the World.” He’s an outspoken advocate on climate change and other environmental issues, and also serves as CEO of the non-profit Planetary Society, the space exploration organization co-founded by Nye’s one-time professor at Cornell University, Carl Sagan.

In advance of Monday’s solar spectacular, Nye spoke with Variety about why eclipses matter, why pirates wore eye patches (maybe), and how a healthy interest in science and space exploration benefits us all.

What does all the excitement stirred up by Monday’s eclipse mean for »


- Cynthia Littleton

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President Donald Trump Bows Out of Kennedy Center Honors Ceremony

19 August 2017 5:31 AM, PDT

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump have decided to bow out of this year’s Kennedy Center Honors ceremony, the White House said Saturday.

The decision comes after several of this year’s honorees — including Norman Lear and Lionel Richie — said they would skip the traditional White House reception that coincides with the December event in protest of Trump’s political agenda and his response to the white supremacist violence last weekend in Charlottesville, Va.

“The President and First Lady have decided not to participate in this year’s activities to allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. “First Lady Melania Trump, along with her husband President Donald J. Trump, extend their sincerest congratulations and well wishes to all of this year’s award recipients for their many accomplishments.”

The move is the latest sign of the backlash to Trump from the »


- Cynthia Littleton

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Univision CEO Blasts ‘Abject Failure’ to Denounce White Supremacists, Neo-Nazis

18 August 2017 5:49 PM, PDT

Randy Falco, CEO of Univision Communications, is the latest corporate leader to call for a forceful condemnation of white supremacists and neo-Nazis in the wake of last weekend’s violence in Charlottesville, Va.

Falco sent a memo to staffers at the Spanish-language media giant pledging to speak out against attacks on immigrants, the Lgbt community, the media and those who “espouse racist and hateful views.”

Falco’s statement follows on the heels of similar statements from Apple CEO Tim Cook, 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch and other CEOs in the wake of President Donald Trump’s conflicting statements about the Charlottesville rally of white supremacists, which left a 32-year-old counter-protester dead on Saturday.

Falco tangled with Trump during the presidential campaign after the then-candidate asserted that many Mexican immigrants were “rapists” and criminals. Univision severed ties with Trump’s Miss Universe beauty pageant franchise in 2015, just months after signing a multi-year pact to carry the events »


- Cynthia Littleton

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Sony Pictures Television Promotes Marketing Executives Jaime Blanc, Cathy Goldman

18 August 2017 4:49 PM, PDT

Sony Pictures Television has promoted marketing executives Cathy Goldman (pictured above, left) and Jaime Blanc (pictured above, right).

Blanc has been promoted from vice president to senior vice president of marketing, advertiser sales. She joined the company in 2013, and has nearly 20 years of experience within the industry. She has previously held positions at New Line Television, Plum TV, Martha Stewart Living, and NBCUniversal. Goldman has been elevated to the role of senior vice president of international distribution and international production. She came onboard at Sony in 2014, having previously worked at AMC Networks, Yahoo, and NBCUniversal over her 20-plus year career. Both will report to Sheraton Kalouria, President and Chief Marketing Officer, Sony Pictures Television.

The announcement of the promotions comes just a day after the company announced that former Fox executive Jeffrey Glaser has been hired as the executive vice president of U.S. current programming. He spent almost 20 years with, mostly »


- Joe Otterson

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Summer Late-Night Ratings: Stephen Colbert Grows Total Viewers Lead, Gains Ground on Jimmy Fallon in Key Demo

18 August 2017 3:12 PM, PDT

As the summer begins to wind down, “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” has shown no signs of slowing down in the ratings.

According to Nielsen data from May 25 to Aug. 13, Colbert is averaging a 0.53 rating in the key adults 18-49 demographic and 3.38 million viewers per episode. “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” is averaging a 0.66 rating and 2.59 million viewers for the same time period.

At the conclusion of the standard September-May season, Colbert was averaging a 0.58 and 3.195 million viewers compared to Fallon’s 0.81 and 3.173 million. That means that Colbert has grown approximately 6% in total viewers while dropping approximately 9% in the key demo. Fallon, on the other hand, is down approximately 18% in total viewers and 19% in the key demo. While it is not uncommon for shows to experience a ratings drop off in the summertime, Colbert has made impressive gains.

Back in May, Colbert edged out Fallon in total viewers by just 0.69%. Now, Colbert »


- Joe Otterson

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TV News Roundup: Viola Davis to Produce ‘Xq Super School Live’ Event

18 August 2017 2:56 PM, PDT

In today’s roundup, NBC gives a commitment to drama pilot “The Unrequited,” while Viola Davis will exec produce the multi-network live event “Eif Presents: Xq Super School Live.”

Development

NBC has given showrunner Kevin Falls a put pilot order for “The Unrequited,” Variety has confirmed. The hourlong drama series will tell the story of four adult siblings who descend on their mother’s home for their father’s funeral, the former governor of California. After the youngest and only son finds an old, unopened love letter from a college girlfriend, a chain of events begins that may change the trajectory of both his own life and members of his family. Falls, former Ep for “Pitch,” previously created and executive produced the NBC drama “Journeyman“ and also co-created and executive produced the TNT dramedy “Franklin & Bash.” Falls is repped by Wme and attorney Stuart Rosenthal. Deadline first reported this news

How to Get Away With Murder” star »


- Erin Nyren

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‘Episodes’ Bosses on Getting the Gang Back Together for the Final Season

18 August 2017 11:00 AM, PDT

Seven years ago, with more than a decade of success on NBC sitcoms like “Mad About You” and “Friends” between them, David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik stepped away from broadcast television to write and produce “Episodes” for Showtime. It was a time when the industry looked very different. For one thing, many producers still saw cable as the “wild west,” and while streaming platforms were not as prevalent, social media-based originals did not exist at all. And as “Episodes”— a show centered on fictional writers adapting their British television comedy for the U.S. — went on, the industry side of their stories couldn’t ignore the way the business was changing.

Over the seasons they satirized everything from a network executive who wants to remove the “when” from television viewing — not realizing themselves just how true that would become — to a once highly-sought after actor moving from scripted work to game show hosting. Though »


- Danielle Turchiano

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‘Game of Thrones’: Memories of Meeting the Actors Before They Were Famous (Photos)

18 August 2017 10:00 AM, PDT

U.K. blogger Adam Whitehead has written for years about genre fiction, sci-fi, and fantasy storytelling on big and small screens. As the seventh season of “Game of Thrones” heads toward its closing episodes — and as the series itself gets ready for a 2018 conclusion — Whitehead recalls the time he met the cast of the show, years before it became a cultural phenomenon. In November 2009, the actors were new to Belfast and shooting the pilot for the HBO show, and author George R.R. Martin happened to be in that city, too, promoting the book series on which the drama is based. Here, Whitehead chronicles that night eight years ago, where he got to tell the actors who’d go on to be very famous about the characters they’d be playing. 

***

I first visited Westeros in the autumn of 1999. After three years of hesitating, I finally I picked up a copy of “A Game of Thrones” and dove »


- Adam Whitehead

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Brendan Gleeson on Getting a Late Start on His Career

18 August 2017 10:00 AM, PDT

Irish actor Brendan Gleeson made his film debut in 1990’s “The Field,” starring Richard Harris and based on the play by John B. Keane. Five years later, he made an impact internationally as Hamish Campbell in Mel Gibson’s Oscar winner “Braveheart.” Since then, film lovers have seen the versatile thesp in a wide range of blockbusters and indie films. “Harry Potter” aficionados know him as Alastor “Mad Eye” Moody, and fans have treasured his work in such fare as John Boorman’s “The General,” John Michael McDonagh’s “Calvary” and Martin Scorsese’s “Gangs of New York” and for his Emmy-winning turn as Winston Churchill in TV film “Into the Storm.”

Now on-screen as Detective Bill Hodges in the new Stephen King neo-noir TV series, “Mr. Mercedes,” Gleeson was first noticed by Variety on Aug. 1, 1990, for his performance in Dublin in Keane’s play “The Year of the Hiker.”

John B. Keane »


- Steven Gaydos

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Remote Controlled: Carrie Coon on ‘The Leftovers’ Finale, ‘Fargo’s’ Appeal and Her Emmy Plans

18 August 2017 9:48 AM, PDT

Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera.

In today’s episode, Variety’s executive editor of TV Debra Birnbaum talks with Carrie Coon, star of HBO’s “The Leftovers” and FX’s “Fargo.” Coon has been nominated for an Emmy for best actress in a limited series for her work on “Fargo.”

“There was a lot of speculation that I would get one for something,” jokes Coon. “My odds are pretty good.”

Despite her success, Coon says she still goes unrecognized by the general public. “By and large I am totally unmolested,” she says with a laugh. But her performances have elevated her within the industry, she says. “I do have some street cred,” she says. “By being picky, I have created a little mystery about what’s next.” She has yet to commit to another role, admitting »


- Debra Birnbaum

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Solar Eclipse Coverage: TV Goes Totally Looney for Lunar Moment

18 August 2017 9:18 AM, PDT

Major TV networks are gearing up to cover Monday’s solar eclipse as if it were a sporting event — the Super Bowl of the scientific world.

The first total solar eclipse to cross the United States since 1917 and the first to be visible from the mainland since 1979 is set to begin around 1:15 p.m. Et. The eclipse will be visible for another 90 minutes in varying degrees around the country. The total blackout of the sun will be visible for a few minutes along the 73-mile-wide “path of totality” that runs along a diagonal stretch of the country, starting in Oregon and ending in South Carolina.

The event has taken on a life of its own, with festivals and even cruises organized around a celebration of the rare moment when the moon steals the spotlight from the sun because the two celestial bodies are in perfect alignment from the perspective of those on Earth. Similar »


- Erin Nyren

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Bruce Forsyth, Legendary British Entertainer, Dies at 89

18 August 2017 9:02 AM, PDT

Legendary British entertainer and television personality Bruce Forsyth has died at the age of 89, it was announced Friday by his manager Ian Wilson.

A statement from Wilson said: “It is with great sadness that the Forsyth family announce that Sir Bruce passed away this afternoon, peacefully at his home surrounded by his wife Wilnelia and all his children.”

The popular variety entertainer, who was a mainstay of British television from the 1970s onwards, made his television debut at age 14 singing and dancing on a talent show. He became a household name in the U.K. in the late 1950s after being invited to take over from comedian Tommy Trinder as host of television variety show “Sunday Night at the London Palladium” in 1958.

In the 1970s he proved popular as a gameshow host, fronting the long-running “The Generation Game” for the BBC before moving to rival broadcaster ITV to host another long-running gameshow, “Play »


- Robert Mitchell

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‘The Fosters’ Star Elliot Fletcher on Hate Speech: ‘It Doesn’t Do Anything but Create More Violence’

18 August 2017 9:00 AM, PDT

From teen pregnancy to drugs, “The Fosters” has always tackled potentially controversial topics, confronting them head-on with characters that express varying points of view. The fifth season of Freeform’s family drama finds Callie (Maia Mitchell) involved with a student group that plans to protest a conservative campus speaker, arguing that someone spewing hate speech should not be given a platform. Callie’s boyfriend, Aaron (Elliot Fletcher), surprised her — and the audience — when he revealed that he believes all speech should be protected as free speech, and therefore he wasn’t in agreement with the protest plans.

“When I got the script for that episode, it did take me aback a little bit, I won’t lie,” Fletcher tells Variety. “I was surprised that Aaron felt that way, but I did as much work as I could internally with the character to develop why he felt that way and what had happened in his past to make »


- Danielle Turchiano

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TV Ratings: ‘SNL: Weekend Update’ Stays Solid With Surprise Cameos

18 August 2017 8:58 AM, PDT

The second installment of “SNL: Weekend Update” is currently up significantly in both key ratings measures in its second week, according to Nielsen overnight data,

However, Thursday night’s numbers will likely be adjusted down later today due to local preemptions for NFL preseason football.

Airing at 9 p.m., the expanded version of the popular segment is currently averaging a 1.5 rating in adults 18-49 and 5.8 million total viewers. That is up approximately 25% in the key demo and 24% in total viewers, pending adjustments. The episode featured cameos by former “SNL” cast members Tina Fey, Jimmy Fallon, and Seth Meyers.

Earlier on NBC, “The Wall” (1.2, 5.8 million) was also up significantly in both measures. A new episode of “The Night Shift” (0.8, 4 million) is currently matching its season high in the key demo.

On CBS, “Big Brother” (2.0, 6.6 million) was the top-rated and most-watched show of the night. “Zoo” (0.6, 2.8 million) was up in total viewers at 10.

For ABC, “Boy »


- Joe Otterson

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Madison Avenue Bets on ‘American Idol’ to Lead Freshman TV Shows

18 August 2017 8:27 AM, PDT

Madison Avenue is betting an old warhorse can gain new traction on the TV schedule.

A Variety survey of commercial-ratings projections for the 2017-2018 broadcast TV season finds ad buyers believe the retooled version of “American Idol,”  slated to air on ABC early next year, will generate the most commercial viewership of any freshman scripted program. The survey, constructed using estimates from three large media-buying agencies, examines the primetime grid for the most viewers between the ages of 18 and 49 who watch advertising. That age range represents the demographic coveted most by advertisers.  Projections for the highest commercial viewership among new programs follows below:

Highest Projected C3 Ratings for Freshman Shows, 2017-18

1.  American Idol Sunday, ABC, 1.86

2.  American Idol Monday, ABC, 1.84

3.  Law & Order: True Crime, NBC 1.65

4.  Rise, NBC, 1.65

5.  Young Sheldon, CBS, 1.52

6.  For The People, ABC, 1.44

7.  The Brave, NBC,  1.42

8.  9Jkl, CBS, 1.38

9.  The Good Doctor, ABC, 1.36

10.’ Grey’S’ Spinoff, ABC, 1.31

Source: A Variety survey of three top media buying agencies

To »


- Brian Steinberg

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Complex Networks, Fuse Media to Offer Joint Advertising Packages

18 August 2017 8:00 AM, PDT

Complex Networks and Fuse Media don’t have common ownership or joint oversight of any particular media property. But in days to come, they will begin to work together to sell packages of media inventory to advertisers.

In a deal announced Friday, the two companies said Complex would begin to air a weekly 90-minute  block of programming built from segments from many of its digital shows on Fuse’s cable network. Both Fuse and Complex Networks will promote the programming as a venue for reaching a multi-cultural audience between the ages of 18 and 34. Complex is part of a joint venture of Verizon and Hearst, while Fuse Media is privately held.

The new programming block will be available in an exclusive window on Fuse television, and its on-demand and authenticated outlets, and then will be distributed across the company’s digital venues.  After airing on Fuse, full run series episodes will air across Complex Networks’ digital platforms. The »


- Brian Steinberg

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NBC News Daily Show on Snapchat Pulls in 29 Million-Plus Viewers in First Month

18 August 2017 7:53 AM, PDT

If the next seismic shift in television is toward mobile, short-form content, Snapchat has already staked out a pole position.

NBC News’ twice-daily Snapchat show, “Stay Tuned,” has garnered more than 29 million unique viewers since launching July 18, the companies announced Friday. The show’s debut came after NBCUniversal invested $500 million in Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, as part of its initial public offering in March.

“Stay Tuned,” the first daily news program on Snapchat, is co-hosted by Savannah Sellers and Gadi Schwartz (pictured above). It features two episodes a day during the week and one each day on weekends, plus breaking news updates. According to Snapchat, more than 40% of viewers tune in at least three days a week.

As NBC News — along with other TV news outlets — struggles to find a younger audience, it’s significant that more than 60% of the “Stay Tuned” audience is under the age of 25, according to Snapchat.

NBC »


- Todd Spangler

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Lin-Manuel Miranda, James Corden Strip Down for ‘Crosswalk: The Musical’ (Watch)

18 August 2017 7:36 AM, PDT

“Hamilton” mastermind Lin-Manuel Miranda and James Corden let it all hang out in a new installment of the “Late Late Show” segment “Crosswalk: The Musical.”

Corden and crew were joined by Miranda to perform a rendition of the classic 60’s counter-culture musical “Hair,” complete with Corden and Miranda stripping down to their birthday suits in front of an audience of people stuck at a red light.

The ensemble performed renditions of hits from the show, including “Age of Aquarius” and”Let the Sunshine In.” After they took their bows, Miranda said, “After performing out there in front of all those cars, I don’t know how you go back to Broadway. Everything else is boring!”

Watch the clip above. »


- Joe Otterson

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BBC Commissions New Drama Series From ‘Wolf Hall’ Writer, ‘Victoria’ Producer

18 August 2017 7:16 AM, PDT

The BBC has commissioned two new eight-part drama series for its flagship channel BBC One, the pubcaster announced Friday.

“The Three,” based on a trilogy of novels by Sarah Lotz and described as an international conspiracy thriller with a supernatural edge, has been adapted by Peter Straughan. Straughan won a BAFTA and was Oscar-nominated for his screenplay for the 2011 adaptation of John Le Carre’s “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” and was Emmy-nominated for 2015’s “Wolf Hall.”

Executive produced by Kate Sinclair and George Faber of The Forge, “The Three” sees a crash investigator with the NTSB in Washington under pressure to find out what caused four plane crashes in four different countries all on the same day. At the center of the mystery are three children who each miraculously survived one of the crashes while rumors circulate of a fourth child survivor.

Straughan said the story “looks at how fear and paranoia can affect society on a global level, while interrogating the effects of trauma on ordinary lives.” »


- Robert Mitchell

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