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13 articles

‘The Magicians’ Renewed for Season 2 on Syfy

20 minutes ago

Syfy has renewed freshman drama “The Magicians” for Season 2, the cabler announced Monday.

The show will return for 13 episodes, slated to air in 2017. Based on the bestselling series of novels from Lev Grossman, “The Magicians” hails from Universal Cable Productions and is executive produced by John McNamara, Sera Gamble, Henry Alonso Myers and Groundswell ProductionsMichael London and Janice Williams.

“Thanks to an extraordinarily gifted creative team of executive producers and our partners at Universal Cable Productions, ‘The Magicians’ has become a buzzed-about hit, enchanting fans of the novels as well as attracting new and younger audiences to Syfy,” said Dave Howe, President, Syfy & Chiller.

The contemporary fantasy drama is currently airing Mondays at 9 p.m. on Syfy, and has debuted three episodes to date.

The Magicians” has averaged 1.7 million viewers over its first three episodes in Live+3. Syfy also gave the series a non-linear preview online and on-demand, when »

- Laura Prudom

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At&T’s Audience Network Sets Guitar Player Docu Series ‘The Pursuit of Tone’

1 hour ago

The latest music series to land on At&T’s Audience Network is a branded partnership with guitar equipment manufacturer Ernie Ball.

“The Pursuit of Tone” is an hourlong docu series profiling notable guitar players ranging from Hunter Hayes to Buddy Guy to Social Distortion’s Mike Ness. The series bows Feb. 19 on Audience Network, At&T’s in-house channel carried across DirecTV and U-verse.

The series is the brainchild of Dustin Hinz, Ernie Ball’s exec VP of marketing. He joined the company a year ago after shepherding 102 episodes of “Guitar Center Sessions” for Audience Network.

While Ernie Ball products will surely be on display in “Tone,” Hinz said the goal is to make it a credible docu series that was developed with Audience Network. In other words, it’s not a time buy.

“As one of the world’s most iconic music brands, it is imperative that we »

- Cynthia Littleton

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‘Black-ish’ to Take on Police Brutality (Exclusive)

1 hour ago

The Feb. 24 episode of “Black-ish” will take on police brutality, Variety has learned.

The episode, titled “Hope,” will revolve around a fictional incident of police brutality that Rainbow (Tracee Ellis Ross) and Andre “Dre” Johnson (Anthony Anderson) discuss with family members, including the couple’s four children. Much of the episode will focus on various characters’ reactions as they watch a news broadcast about the case, which involves an African-American teenager’s encounter with police.

As was the case when the family talked about the issue of guns in the home, members of the Johnson clan do not necessarily see eye-to-eye about what the kids should know and when they should know it. Rainbow would like to shield the kids, especially the younger ones, from life’s harsher realities as long as she can, while Andre feels that they need to know about the challenges of the world they’re »

- Maureen Ryan

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Comcast Pumps ‘Best of Oscars’ TV Content Into X1 On-Demand

2 hours ago

With Super Bowl 50 now in the rear-view mirror, Comcast is turning its eyes to the next major TV event: the Oscars.

The cable giant is delivering a trove of content from past Academy Awards telecasts through its video-on-demand platform to X1 customers, in hopes of driving up VOD rentals and purchases of Oscar-nominated pics.

Under a pact with ABC and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Comcast is offering 72 “Best of Oscars” moments on VOD. Those include Lupita Nyong’o’s emotional speech after winning best supporting actress in 2014; Martin Scorsese’s best director win in 2007; and Sally Field’s memorable 1985 acceptance speech for best actress.

Comcast’s goal: to generate fan excitement about the Oscars, and ideally spur cable customers to pay to watch this year’s nominees or past winners on VOD.

The Mso offers about 20 movies that have received 2016 Academy Awards nominations for pre-order, rent or own, »

- Todd Spangler

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TV Review: Frontline’s ‘The Fantasy Sports Gamble,’ American Experience’s ‘The Perfect Crime’

3 hours ago

Two PBS stalwarts offer excellent back-to-back documentaries Feb. 9 – one extremely timely, the other a still-relevant dip into the way-back machine. Produced with the New York Times, Frontline’s “The Fantasy Sports Gamble” delves into betting sites like FanDuel and DraftKings, which have coyly operated at the fringes of gambling, enlisting entertainment companies and professional leagues as partners, while virtually buying off media with their ostentatious advertising budgets. That follows “The Perfect Crime,” a look back at the infamous 1924 murder case of Leopold and Loeb, a reminder that sensational “Crimes of the Century” predated O.J. Simpson.

Drawing from the Times’ extensive reporting on online sports wagering, Frontline had the good fortune to assemble its report – produced and directed by Frank Koughan, who wrote it with Times reporter/correspondent Walt Bogdanich – as the industry was threatening to implode. That included revelations that FanDuel and DraftKings employees had potentially gamed the system by »

- Brian Lowry

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TV Review: ‘Love’

3 hours ago

Judd Apatow’s movies tend to run rather long for romantic comedies, but that pales next to the canvas that’s available on “Love,” a 10-part Netflix series that follows the slow-gestating relationship between Gus and Mickey, as well as the assorted oddballs that surround them. Highly specific to L.A., for good and ill, the show revolves around frequently irritating protagonists that will present a challenge to viewers’ rooting interest, but there are enough moments of sheer awkwardness and bawdy humor to make this a series a core audience should be able to like, if not, you know, love.

The first episode of the show, co-created by Apatow, Lesley Arfin and series star Paul Rust, introduces Rust’s Gus, an on-set tutor for the bratty 12-year-old star of a TV series, as he discovers his girlfriend has been cheating on him. Their subsequent breakup lands him in a temporary-living complex known as the Springwood, »

- Brian Lowry

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Super Bowl 50 Ratings: CBS Delivers Second Highest Overnights Ever

3 hours ago

Sunday’s telecast of the Denver Broncos’ 24-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers on CBS has delivered the second highest overnight rating on record for the Super Bowl — behind only last year.

According to Nielsen, Super Bowl 50 averaged a 49.0 household rating/73 share in the 56 metered markets across the country, peaking with a 51.0/73 for the final 15 minutes (10-10:15 p.m. Et). The game was neither a thing of beauty nor a nail-biter in the closing seconds, but the late uptick in the ratings suggests viewers wanted to witness the coronation of Peyton Manning in what is likely to be his final game as an NFL quarterback.

Last year’s game on NBC between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks averaged a 49.7 household rating in the overnights, which translated into an all-time record national audience of 114.4 million viewers.

Nielsen will issue total-viewer estimates for the game and post-game programs later today. »

- Rick Kissell

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Review: Stephen Colbert’s Super Bowl Episode Squanders Big-Game Showcase

12 hours ago


CBS loves running image-building spots – as it did during the Super Bowl – touting how the network is No. 1 in various categories. Late night, alas, doesn’t fall into that column, which likely explains why the network took the unprecedented step of using the big game to showcase “Late Show With Stephen Colbert,” the best, but far from most watched, entry in the crowded late-night race. Still, Sunday’s live episode felt mostly like a wasted opportunity – one that probably won’t win many converts among those football fans sober enough to stick around.

Although the network sought to engineer a handoff directly from the extended post-game show to Colbert, by then plenty of air had been let out of the ball. And while there was some energy in the opening sequence – which worked in President Obama (pre-taped) and astronaut Scott Kelly, the show appeared trapped between trying to do all »

- Brian Lowry

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Anheuser-Busch: Peyton Manning Was Not Paid To Mention Bud In Super Bowl

13 hours ago

The most powerful Super Bowl commercial of the evening was for Budweiser beer, but it didn’t appear in the form of a 30-second TV ad during CBS’s broadcast of Super Bowl 50 Sunday evening.

While speaking to CBS Sports correspondent Tracy Wolfson after Sunday’s victory over the Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning mentioned that he intended to “drink a lot of Budweiser tonight” after his game responsibilities were done. It’s an utterance potentially worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in free publicity, given the fact that a 30-second spot in this year’s broadcast was worth anywhere from $4.5 million to more than $5 million.

And the endorsement raised a potential issue. Active NFL players are not supposed to recommend alcohol companies on air.

Manning “was not paid to mention Budweiser. We were surprised and delighted that he did,” said Lisa Weser, a spokeswoman for Anheuser, »

- Brian Steinberg

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Review: Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show

13 hours ago

Perhaps it was inevitable, in an era of “Full House” reboots, nostalgia for the early Obama Era, and highly publicized reunions of bands not five years disbanded, that we would get a Super Bowl Halftime Show Tribute to Recent Super Bowl Halftime Shows. That’s certainly the easiest way to sum up Super Bowl 50’s hyperactive slurry of musical half-thoughts, busily choreographed kitsch, irreconcilable tonal shifts and, periodically, brief snippets of quality music best experienced as a series of GIFs. Despite Coldplay’s status as the nominal headliners, a mid-set invasion from Beyonce and Bruno Mars brought the only thing approximating heat, while a closing clip reel of recent halftime highlights — from Paul McCartney to Bruce Springsteen and Michael Jackson — only served to underscore the senselessness of the whole endeavor.

Coldplay, first announced as the halftime headliner back in early December, is not a popular band in certain cred-obsessed corners of the Internet. »

- Andrew Barker

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Super Bowl Movie Ads Tailor-Made to Sequels and Superheroes

14 hours ago

For movie studios, the Super Bowl really isn’t their game. Up against Madison Avenue’s creative big guns – and commercials designed to look like movies that feature top stars, targeted to this annual showcase – it’s tough for film ads, which are usually just cut-down versions of the trailers, to compete and break through.

Still, that reality is balanced against the football championship’s unrivaled power as a platform to reach more than 100 million U.S. consumers in one fell swoop, at a moment when they are paying inordinate attention to advertising – particularly men, who are more elusive in ordinary programming. Small wonder it’s an opportunity that Hollywood has struggled to resist, and one they appear to have mastered not through creative but rather the kind of movies that they choose to market.

The summer, after all, is now awash in sequels and the adapted exploits of superheroes. »

- Brian Lowry

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Super Bowl Review: Madison Avenue Filled Big Game With Small Ads

14 hours ago

Madison Avenue brought a knife to a gun fight Sunday evening, loading the fiftieth Super Bowl with advertisements for the splintered crowds of the Internet and social media rather than being tailored for TV’s biggest annual event.

Viewers were bombarded with commercials that were fast-paced and celebrity-laced, offered by Yum Brands’ Taco Bell, SquareSpace, PepsiCo’s Mtn Dew and even Advil, backed by the conservative pharmaceutical manufacturer, Pfizer. In general, the commercials were so frenetic they reminded one of those animated Japanese TV shows that give young children seizures.

There was an anthropomorphic creature that was part baby, part dog and part monkey, and a young outdoor aficionado who wanted to get to first base with a local rodent. Dollar Shave Club trotted out an ad that looked as if it were made for a dollar (it was crafted internally by the company’s CEO, who had a role »

- Brian Steinberg

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‘The Good Wife’ to End After Current Season

17 hours ago

The current season of “The Good Wife” is officially its last, CBS announced via a Super Bowl promo spot on Sunday.

The Emmy-winning drama series starring Julianna Margulies has nine episodes to go in its seventh season. CBS announced the May 8 series finale with a promo spot that aired during the network’s telecast of Super Bowl 50.

“It’s never easy to say goodbye to one of the crown jewels of your network and studio, much less to a show that is among the best on television,” said CBS Entertainment president Glenn Geller and CBS TV Studios president David Stapf in a joint statement. “But it also feels very right to end with the seven-year story its creators envisioned, and to celebrate the show’s final run while at the top of its creative game. It has been CBS’s sincere privilege to broadcast and produce ‘The Good Wife’ for seven extraordinary seasons. »

- Alex Stedman

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