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Pilots 2014: More Early Buzz

24 minutes ago

We’re heading into the homestretch of pilot season as the broadcast networks are beginning to view and test the completed pilots, a process that will continue for about two weeks before the nets move on to making pickup and scheduling decisions. Based on buzz around town, here are the most talked-about pilots three weeks before the upfronts. Related: Bubble Watch 2014: Where Endangered Broadcast Series Stand Every year, there is at least one pilot that comes out of nowhere and surprises everyone. We may have that this season in ABC‘s multi-camera Cristela. It was not even supposed to be a pilot. Developed at 20th TV-based 21 Laps/Adelstein for more than a year, the semi-autobiographical project co-created by and starring rising Latina stand-up comedian Cristela Alonzo was sold to ABC last summer with significant penalty. But when pilot-pickup time came along, ABC quickly loaded on high-profile sitcoms, including the 20th TV-produced The Winklers, »

- NELLIE ANDREEVA

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Gwen Stefani In Talks To Take Christina Aguilera’s Chair On NBC’s ‘The Voice’

1 hour ago

NBC will have two “new” judges for The Voice in the fall as Gwen Stefani is in talks to replace the pregnant Christina Aguilera as a coach for Cycle 7, which starts taping in June. According to informed sources, Stefani also had been in talks for a judge position on ABC’s Rising Star, the interactive singing competition that’s set to premiere June 22. And she has experience on these kinds of shows, having mentored on Fox’s American Idol. The No Doubt singer and fashion icon might have given fans at the Coachella Music & Arts Festival something of a Voice fall preview last week when she joined Pharrell Williams onstage for a take on her 2005 solo hit “Hollaback Girl.” NBC announced last month that Williams will join The Voice next season, replacing CeeLo Green, who had announced his departure in February. Related: Chris Martin Joins ‘The Voice’ As Show Makes A Format Change Williams, »

- THE DEADLINE TEAM

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Bubble Watch 2014: Freshman ABC Comedy ‘Mixology’ Heating Up For Renewal

4 hours ago

It has been a three-way race for renewal among three bubble ABC comedies: sophomore The Neighbors and freshmen Trophy Wife and Mixology, There seems to be some movement within the pack, with the youngest, midseason entry Mixology, gaining momentum. I hear the network and the studio already have put in place a leadership plan for next season, with creators Jon Lucas and Scott Moore set to take over the reins as showrunners from Ira Ungerleider, who will be leaving after running the series for its original 13-episode order. What’s more, in a sign of confidence to Lucas & Moore and their show, I hear ABC Studios is in negotiations with the duo for an overall deal. At the same time last year, ABC Studios inked an overall deal with Dan Fogelman, with his freshman comedy The Neighbors going on to clinch the only comedy renewal for ABC Studios a few weeks later. »

- NELLIE ANDREEVA

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Hot TV Trailer: HBO’s ‘The Normal Heart’

4 hours ago

“To win a war, you have to start one.” This HBO telefilm arrives nearly three decades after Larry Kramer’s play premiered off-Broadway. Mark Ruffalo, Matt Bomer, Taylor Kitsch, Jim Parsons and Julia Roberts star in the adaptation directed by Ryan Murphy and scripted by Kramer. Set in NYC during the onset of the HIV/AIDS crisis of the early ’80s, The Normal Heart follows gay activists and their allies in the medical community as they try to expose the truth about the burgeoning epidemic. HBO already is looking into a sequel. The telepic, which co-stars Alfred Molina, Joe Mantello, Jonathan Groff, Denis O’Hare, Stephen Spinella, Corey Stoll, Finn Wittrock and Bd Wong, bows May 25 on the premium channel. Here’s the first full trailer: »

- THE DEADLINE TEAM

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Deadline Big Media 81: Previewing The Aereo Arguments

5 hours ago

In this week’s podcast, Deadline Executive Editor David Lieberman and host David Bloom preview what could be a very big day in the history of broadcasting and technology, as the Supreme Court hears legal arguments Monday about Aereo and its business model. The Davids talk about what’s at stake and how it might play out, where broadcasters might go if they lose and whether a win will turn the broadcasting business upside down. They also look over that very messy, and pricey Disney acquisition of online video powerhouse Maker Studios, and examine why Espn, pay-tv’s most valuable brand, felt compelled to pitch investors that it’s just fine despite competition, cord-cutting and other existential challenges. Listen to the podcast in your choice of audio formats here: Deadline Big Media podcast 81 (.MP3 version) Deadline Big Media podcast 81 (.M4A version) The .M4A version of this podcast is »

- ERIK PEDERSEN

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Ryan Seacrest Nears Deal To Continue On ‘American Idol’, Likely To Stay In NBCU Fold

6 hours ago

Ryan Seacrest will split his allegiances on May 1 when Fox‘s American Idol, which he hosts, airs against NBC‘s iHeartRadio Music Awards, which his company produces with Clear Channel. The programs involve all three of Seacrest’s major employers: Fox, where he has been making $15 million a year hosting Idol; NBCUniversal, where he has a wide-ranging deal spanning Today, the Olympics and E!; and Clear Channel, where he has his radio show and has been involved in the iHeartRadio franchise as host and producer. Two of the three deals — the Fox and NBCU ones — are coming up in the next few weeks, while the Clear Channel radio pact has another year on it. It seems neither Fox nor NBC has objections to Seacrest promoting programs that compete against each other as both companies are looking to extend their relationship with him. Seacrest is near a deal with Fox to continue on Idol, »

- NELLIE ANDREEVA

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‘Mad Men’ Debut Jumps With Live+3-Day Viewing

7 hours ago

The return of Mad Men for the first part of Season 7 on Sunday clocked 3.7 million viewers when Live+3 viewing stats are added in – a 62% jump from the previously reported 2.3 million for Live+Same Day. That’s good news for AMC, given those Live+Sd stats had been the acclaimed drama series’ lowest season premiere since 2008’s Season 2. Related: ‘Mad Men’s’ Season 7 Big Hollywood Premiere Buzz Mad Men is one of TV’s most DVR’d series. In key demos, for instance – 18-49 and 25-54 – Sunday’s premiere telecast of the seventh-season starter bagged even bigger gains when delayed viewing through three days was factored in. In 18-49, the tally popped to 1.8 million viewers, up 74% from the initially reported ratings. In 25-54, Mad Men climbed 73%, to 1.9 million. The period drama’s return is still, however, down compared to its Season 6 opener on April 7, 2013, which snagged 4.5 million overall viewers, 2.1 million 18- »

- THE DEADLINE TEAM

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Michelle Obama Books Cameo In Military-Themed ‘Nashville’ Episode

8 hours ago

First Lady Michelle Obama will play herself in a cameo appearance on ABC‘s country music drama Nashville on May 7, an episode titled “All Or Nothing With Me” that is set at the Fort Campbell Army base. This comes a couple months after she was set for a cameo on the season finale of Parks And Recreation on April 24, that appearance to promote her “Let’s Move” program targeting child obesity. Aside from numerous late-night appearances and docu-series, Obama has appeared in only a couple  scripted series including Sesame Street in 2009 and in a cameo on Nickelodeon’s iCarly in 2012. Obama taped the iCarly appearance in June 2011 while in La to promote a series of PSAs targeting her “Joining Forces” initiative, designed to raise awareness of military families; iCarly‘s lead character was the daughter of a U.S. service member stationed overseas. That plan was unveiled at the WGA »

- THE DEADLINE TEAM

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ABC Family Gives Pilot Order To Paranormal Crime Procedural Drama

8 hours ago

ABC Family has handed out a pilot order to drama Stitchers. Written by Jeffrey A. Schechter (Overruled), Stitchers follows a young woman recruited into a covert government agency to be “stitched” into the minds of the recently deceased, using their memories to investigate murders and decipher mysteries that otherwise would have gone to the grave. Schechter executive produces alongside Jonathan Baruch and Rob Wolken. Production is slated to begin in June. ABC Family got a vacancy on its drama pilot slate when the network pulled the plug on Saudi Arabia-set Alice In Arabia four days after greenlighting it to pilot after pressure from a Muslim advocacy group. Stitchers joins two other recently picked up ABC Family drama pilots:  Recovery Road, based on Blake Nelson’s novel about a teenage girl dealing with addiction, and Unstrung, about a brother-sister tennis player duo. Schechteris with Resolution. »

- NELLIE ANDREEVA

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Ian Gomez Joins CBS Pilot ‘Cuz-Bros’

8 hours ago

Exclusive: Another actor from a comedy series whose fate is up in the air has boarded CBS’ multi-camera odd-couple comedy pilot Cuz-Bros. Cougar Town co-star Ian Gomez has been cast in the pilot, toplined by Geoff Stults and Parker Young of Fox’s Enlisted. Cuz-Bros, from writers David Caspe and Erik Sommers, Sony TV, CBS Studios and Fanfare, centers on Nick (Stults), a successful, suave ladies man working as a sportscaster for a local Los Angeles TV station whose perfect life gets turned upside down when his mess of a cousin, Barry (Young), needs a place to stay. Gomez, repped by Apa, Intellectual Artists Management and attorney Jonathan Moonves, plays Phil, Nick’s poss at the TV station. He is being cast as a guest star as he is in second position to Cougar Town, the way Stults and Young are to Enlisted, making Cuz-Bros a rare pilot where most »


- NELLIE ANDREEVA

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Hot TV Teaser: Wgn America’s ‘Manhattan’

8 hours ago

John Benjamin Hickey, Daniel Stern, Olivia Williams, Ashley Zukerman and Rachel Brosnahan star in Wgn America‘s 13-episode scripted series Manhattan, slated to premiere in July. Set during the clandestine mission to build the world’s first atomic bomb in Los Alamos, Nm, Manhattan follows the brilliant but flawed scientists and their families. Here’s a sneak-peek at the teaser trailer that will air during Salem‘s season premiere on Sunday. Manhattan is from writer Sam Shaw and director Thomas Schlamme, Skydance TV, Tribune Studios and Lionsgate TV. »

- THE DEADLINE TEAM

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NBC’s ‘Saturday Night Live’ 40th Anniversary Special Set

10 hours ago

NBC set a date for its three-hour bash — February 15, 2015 — but did not say which past and present cast members, musical guests, etc. would appear. NBC Chairman Bob Greenblatt said the “special is just one of many ways we plan to celebrate ‘SNL’s historic 40th season next year.” Today’s announcement: “‘Saturday Night Live’ is an institution unlike anything else in television history,” said Robert Greenblatt, Chairman, NBC Entertainment. “The many brilliant ‘Not Ready for Primetime Players’ over the years is a who’s who of film and television comedy for the last two generations. The roster includes everyone from the iconic first cast in 1975 to household names ranging from Eddie Murphy, Billy Crystal, Dana Carvey, Mike Myers, Will Ferrell, and Adam Sandler, to Kristen Wiig, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Jimmy Fallon, and Seth Meyers — to name only a few. This brand, which is still one of the highest-rated comedies on television, »

- THE DEADLINE TEAM

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Rhys Coiro & Joe Egender Join History’s ‘Texas Rising’

10 hours ago

Rhys Coiro (Hostages) and Joe Egender (Hunger) have landed lead roles in History’s miniseries Texas Rising (working title) from A+E Studios and ITV Studios America. Leslie Greif (Hatfields & McCoys) is exec producing the project, which will detail the Texas Revolution against Mexico and the rise of the legendary Texas Rangers. Coiro will play Vern Elwood opposite Bill Paxton, Ray Liotta, Brendan Fraser and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Egender will play Beans Wilkins, a Ranger who is always hungry and looking for his next meal. Coiro, repped by UTA, Untitled, and Bloom Hergott Diemer Rosenthal Laviolette Feldman Schenkman & Goodman, also has been tapped for a recurring arc on Netflix’s Lilyhammer. On the feature side, he will reprise his role as Billy Walsh in Doug Ellin’s upcoming Entourage pic. Egender recurred on Fox’s Alcatraz and American Horror Story: Asylum. He also wrote, produced and starred in indie Holy Ghost People »

- THE DEADLINE TEAM

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‘Good Morning America’ Promotes Lara Spencer To Co-Anchor

10 hours ago

Burying his lead, new ABC News President James Goldston sent around a memo to staff today — in Paragraph 6 of which was the announcement he’d promoted Good Morning America‘s Lara Spencer to co-host of the program along with Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulos. Roberts recently signed a new contract to stay with the show; ditto Spencer. Stephanopoulos’ contract was due to come up later this year — his reps are in talks with ABC News now. Related: ‘Gma’ Beats ‘Today’ By Biggest Margin In Three Months Spencer was the only one of three Gma-ers whose contracts came up around the same time as Roberts’ who re-signed. The two guys — Sam Champion and Josh Elliott – both got poached by NBC, whose Today show saw its longtime ratings record snapped two years ago by Gma.Which brings us to Goldston’s memo: celebrating tomorrow’s anniversary of Gma ending Today’s 852-week winning streak. »

- LISA DE MORAES, TV Columnist

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Eion Bailey To Recur On ‘Ray Donovan’

10 hours ago

Eion Bailey (Fight Club, Almost Famous) has booked a recurring role on Showtime‘s Ray Donovan. Bailey, repped by Paradigm and Industry Entertainment, will play a charismatic motivational speaker/self-help guru who needs Ray’s help. Ray Donovan stars Liev Schreiber as La’s best professional fixer, the man called in to make the city’s celebrities, superstar athletes, and business moguls’ most complicated and combustible situations go away. Bailey most recently recurred on ABC’s Once Upon A Time. His other TV credits include Band Of Brothers miniseries, Dirty Little Secrets, Covert Affairs, Law & Order: Svu and ER. The 12-episode second season of the Mark Gordon-produced Ray Donovan is set to premiere Sunday, July 13. »

- THE DEADLINE TEAM

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Discovery Channel’s Mount Everest Jump Date In Question After Avalanche Kills 13: Video

11 hours ago

NBC News, whose Peacock Productions is producing Discovery’s Mount Everest live jump, said this morning “the future of the production will be assessed at the appropriate time” after the deadliest disaster ever recorded at the peak killed 13 Sherpa guides last night. The guides were carrying equipment and supplies to camps for climbers getting ready for peak trekking season — including those preparing to participate in Discovery Channel‘s Everest Jump Live, produced by the NBC News division. Discovery, which had just announced Monday the live two-hour event would air May 11, said this morning its star Joby Ogwyn was at base came at the time of the avalanche, which struck a group of about 50 — mostly Nepalese sherpas — at more than 20,000 feet. Four people remain missing, according to Nepal’s Tourism Ministry. Discovery said it has has not had conversations as to how the disaster might impact its plans. ”The avalanche last night on Mt. »

- LISA DE MORAES, TV Columnist

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The ABCs Of Aereo: Future of TV & Internet At Stake In Battle With Broadcasters, Says Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia

11 hours ago

Editors Note: This is the last of three Deadline posts that lay out the issues in the Aereo case, which Deadline Legal Editor Dominic Patten will cover from the Supreme Court next week. Today: An interview with Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia. Previous ABCs Of Aereo Reports: What Is Aereo And Why Are Broadcasters Taking It To Supreme Court? Aereo Wants “Something For Nothing”, Former U.S. Lawyer Says Broadcasters challenged Aereo‘s legality almost from the moment in early 2012 when it launched in NYC. It is a David and Goliath contest: the tiny, Barry Diller-backed streaming service defending itself against attacks from CBS, Disney, Fox, and Comcast’s NBCUniversal among other companies as well as the federal government’s Office of the Solicitor General. The plaintiffs say Aereo steals their property by selling their over-the-air programming without paying them. They liken it to a cable or satellite distributor and »

- DAVID LIEBERMAN, Financial Editor

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FCC Chairman Circulates Draft Rules For TV Spectrum Auction

11 hours ago

The financial and technological proposals are incredibly complicated, but they provide the kinds of details that broadcasters have wanted to see before they decide whether to let the federal government auction to broadband providers some of the airwaves now used for TV. The process being circulated by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler includes a reverse auction, where station owners would indicate how much cash they want for their spectrum and can drop out if the bidding is too low. There’s also a forward auction, where wireless companies would raise their offers in successive rounds. When it’s all done, the FCC will repack the spectrum — making usage efficient by assigning new channels to the broadcasters who stay on the air. There’s also a plan to accommodate low-power TV, translators, and wireless microphones that will be affected by the changes. “Whether television broadcasters participate in the Incentive Auction will be purely voluntary, »

- DAVID LIEBERMAN, Financial Editor

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Ratings Rat Race: ‘Scandal’, ‘Parenthood’ & ‘Community’ Finales Up; ‘Crazy Ones’ Down

12 hours ago

On a night of season finales, Scandal‘s closer dwarfed them all, drawing a 3.4 in adults 18-49 and 10.5 million total viewers Thursday. The twisty ABC drama was up 13% in 18-49 and 14% in viewers from last week to log its second highest numbers ever in both categories and the highest-rated finale to date. Related: ‘Scandal’: Shonda Rhimes Whips Up Spoiler Storm With Season Finale Against the Scandal closer, the season finale of NBC’s Parenthood (1.3) was up 18% from last week. But versus last year’s finale, which aired in January in the series’ previous Tuesday 10 Pm slot, it was down 24%. Community (1.0) also inched up in its season finale, up 11% from last Thursday. (Compared with last May’s finale, it was down 23%). The bumps help as both shows are being considered for (possibly partial) final-season orders. Community edged the only NBC comedy already assured a return next season, Parks And Recreation »

- NELLIE ANDREEVA

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Jimmy Kimmel Hits Season High & Tops Late Night With ‘Scandal’ Finale Show

13 hours ago

Over at ABC‘s Jimmy Kimmel Live! this morning they’re likely celebrating with two words: “Scandal!” & “Victory!” For the first time since Jimmy Fallon took over The Tonight Show this year, the other Jimmy was the King of Late Night thanks to his Scandal Season 3 finale-themed show — though NBC’s and CBS’ late-night shows were repeats. In metered-market household results, Kimmel drew a season-high 3.4/8 rating. That beat The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon’s 2.1/5 and Late Show With David Letterman‘s repeat, which drew a 2.1/5. Among adults 18-49 in the 25 Lpm market ratings, Kimmel had a 1.4/6 to Fallon’s 0.8/4 and Letterman’s 0.4/2. Last night’s Tonight Show replayed its February 20 show with First Lady Michelle Obama and Will Ferrell as guests. Other than Thursday’s show, Jkl has been in repeats all this week. Last night’s result actually is the best Jkl has done since the show’s »

- DOMINIC PATTEN

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