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President Obama Tries to Sell Hope in a Reality TV Landscape

4 hours ago

Wednesday night, President Barack Obama closed out the night of speeches with an appeal to America’s better natures that felt wildly out of place in the narrative of Decision 2016. His address to the convention was a mic drop — not quite as jaw-dropping as First Lady Michelle Obama’s on Monday night, but only because the American people know the president’s speeches a little better than his wife’s. The two-term president was speaking at his fourth Democratic National Convention, and for the first time, the end of his elected political career is in sight. There was, as a result, a marked looseness to his manner; the swagger of a winner on the victory lap. Whatever happens now, he’s going out on a high note.

Day three of the DNC narrative puts the week in Philadelphia in almost complete opposition to last week’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Where »

- Sonia Saraiya

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European Pay-tv Giant Sky Sees Revenue Rise 7% to $15.8 Billion

5 hours ago

Revenue at European pay-tv giant Sky for the year ending June 30 grew 7% to £11.96 billion ($15.8 billion), while operating profit was up 12% to £1.56 billion ($2.05 billion).

In Britain and Ireland, the company passed £8 billion ($10.6 billion) in revenue for the first time. Revenue rose 7% to £8.37 billion ($11 billion), and operating profit was up 11% to £1.5 billion ($1.99 billion). Sky also operates in Germany, Austria and Italy.

Jeremy Darroch, Sky’s group chief executive, said in a statement Thursday that the company was benefiting from economies of scale and “investing in a broad range of world-class entertainment in every market, distributed across an unrivaled choice of market-leading platforms, and supported by excellent service, because these are the things that really matter to customers.”

Darroch said that if Britain entered a new recession following its decision to leave the European Union, this may not have a negative effect on Sky. “As we have seen in the past, when that happens, people »

- Leo Barraclough

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SNL ‘Weekend Update’ Roasts the Democratic Convention (Watch)

5 hours ago

Saturday Night Live traveled to Philadelphia for a special edition of “Weekend Update” at the Democratic National Convention, which MSNBC broadcast during Wednesday night’s coverage.

Hosts Colin Jost and Michael Che, who also attended the Rnc last week in Cleveland, riffed on DNC highlights including President Obama’s speech, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders’ troops.

“Look at all of these white girls crying,” Che said of Bernie loyalists. “They look like Dave Matthews just played ‘Crash Into Me.'”

The duo also handed out Trump water to attendees outside the Wells Fargo Arena and made fun of ‘Bernie or Bust’ supporters there protesting Hillary Clinton’s nomination.

Watch the videos below:


- Variety Staff

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‘Luke Cage’ Star Mike Colter on Playing Marvel’s First Black Lead

11 hours ago

Mike Colter originated the onscreen version of Luke Cage on Netflix’s Marvel series “Jessica Jones.” Now that character is getting his own show, making “Luke Cage” the first Marvel superhero show with an African-American lead. Colter takes that responsibility seriously.

“It’s important in the landscape of television and also globally as far as symbols,” Colter said Wednesday at the Television Critic Association’s summer press tour. “When you look at black culture, it’s important that you have symbols.” Colter and the show’s creative team, he added, have “no agenda,” but, he added, “I’m proud that people do think he’s a good superhero, and I do think that the black community has a lot to be proud of.”

Showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker talked about the character’s blaxploitation-era roots, and how they make him both unique and universal.

Luke Cage came out in 1972, the year I was born, and »

- Daniel Holloway

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‘Black Mirror’ Season 3 Includes Episode by Rashida Jones, Mike Schur

12 hours ago

Black Mirror” executive producers Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones rarely collaborate with other writers. But they made a couple high-profile exceptions for season three of their sci-fi anthology.

Brooker and Jones revealed Wednesday at the Television Critics Association’s press tour that Rashida Jones and Mike Schur co-wrote one episode and Dan Trachtenberg wrote another.

“It turned out they were fans of the show, and the feelings were mutual,” Brooker said of Jones, star of “Parks & Recreation” and “Angie Tribeca,” and Schur, executive producer of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “The Good Place.” Their episode stars Bryce Dallas Howard and was directed by Joe Wright. “It was a social satire about identity in the social media age. That’s about the most boring way I could describe it.”

Trachtenberg, the filmmaker behind “10 Cloverfield Lane,” wrote a video game-themed episode.

An anthology series in the tradition of “The Twilight Zone,” each episode of “Black Mirror” is a self-contained episode dealing »

- Daniel Holloway

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TV News: Michelle Obama To Appear On Nickelodeon, Pop Announces ‘Wolf Creek’ Premiere Date

13 hours ago

In today’s TV news roundup, Pop TV announces a “Wolf Creek” series. Plus, First Lady Michelle Obama will appear on Nickelodeon.


First Lady Michelle Obama will appear in a new episode of Nickelodeon’s “All In With Cam Newton.” The episode will follow Cam Newton taking 10-year-old Rosie Smolowitz to the White House in Washington, D.C. to meet the First Lady herself. The episode will air July 29 at 8 p.m.


Pop TV announced that the new suspense thriller “Wolf Creek” will premiere on Oct. 14 at 10 p.m. The six-episode series is inspired by the famed cult film of the same name and is executive produced by the film’s creator and director Greg McLeanJohn Jarratt will reprise his movie role as notorious murderer Mick Taylor.


Matt Tolleson of Turner Content Distribution has been promoted to Senior Vice President of Brand Distribution for Turner, and Harold Goings has been elevated to Vice »

- Arya Roshanian

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‘American Horror Story’ Releases Chilling First Teasers for Season 6

13 hours ago

FX released the first grisly teasers for season six of “American Horror Story” via Snapchat on Wednesday.

But, the clips still do not ease fans’ anxiety and reveal the plot.

The teasers open with a distant farm house billowing smoke from the chimney, forming a the season’s logo, which was previously unveiled. A chainsaw and a woman’s screams are heard in the background. Things get darker from there as the next clip shows knives and other contorted objects dangling over what appears to be a baby crib.

But, beware the demonic hand that grabs the knife.

The final glimpse into the mysterious sixth season captures a woman’s feet running down a metal staircase attempting to escape the hands reaching for her. She isn’t so lucky.

While fans knew the themes of the previous five seasons well before their release, they have been forced to guess what twisted world Ryan Murphy has created this »

- Lamarco McClendon

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Ellen Pompeo Reveals Hollywood Ageism Kept Her From Leaving ‘Grey’s Anatomy’

13 hours ago

Ellen Pompeo is the title star of “Grey’s Anatomy,” but has she ever considered leaving the hit ABC medical drama? No — thanks to Hollywood ageism.

“My decision to stay on ‘Grey’s’ was based solely on age,” Pompeo said in a recent interview. “At 33, I was wise enough to know my clock was already ticking in Hollywood.”

Pompeo, 46, has starred as Dr. Meredith Grey on the Shonda Rhimes series for all twelve seasons and is confirmed to return to the upcoming thirteenth season this fall. She was 35 years old when the show debuted in 2005.

The actress says she got a “super late start” in the industry and admits had she been younger when she landed the starring role on the ABC medical drama, “I probably would have done my time, then gone out to search for other things.” She added, “[I] was definitely aware of how challenging it would be to find other roles in my late »

- Elizabeth Wagmeister

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‘Stranger Things’ EPs on Season 2: ‘We Could Explore It If Netflix Wanted To’

13 hours ago

Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos may have declined to announce a renewal for the buzzy series “Stranger Things” — “We want to let it breathe a little bit,” he said — but he couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm for the show at the annual Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills.

Series creators Matt and Ross Duffer, along with stars Winona Ryder, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, and Caleb McLaughlin were on hand to discuss the breakout hit’s success as well as plans for any future seasons.

The series’ first season does answer most of the questions raised, said Matt. “We want it to feel like a big movie,” he said. “But there’s a bigger mythology, and there’s a lot of dangling threads at the end. We could explore it if Netflix wanted to continue.”

Added Ross, “It’s about giving enough so the audience feels satisfied.”

And »

- Debra Birnbaum

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How TV Tuned in More Upfront Ad Dollars: Soap, Toothpaste and Pushy Tactics

13 hours ago

Madison Avenue is flirting with TV more seriously than it has in years, but behind the winks and kisses are signs of a relationship that continues to fray.

The nation’s five big English-language broadcast networks secured between $8.41 billion and $9.25 billion in advance ad commitments for primetime as part of the annual “upfront” market, according to Variety estimates. It’s the first time in three years they’ve managed to break the $9 billion mark. The upfront finish is a clear signal that Madison Avenue is putting more faith in TV even as digital-video options abound. Last year, the volume of advance ad commitments totaled between $8.02 billion and $8.69 billion, a noticeable decline from the previous year.

2010: $8.1B to $8.7B

2011: $8.8B to $9.3B

2012: $8.8B to $9.3B

2013: $8.6B to $9.2B

2014: $8.17B to $8.94B

2015: $8.02B to $8.69B

2016: $8.41B to $9.25B

Source: Variety estimates

Beneath the impressive hikes and the happy talks they will likely »

- Brian Steinberg

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CBS News’ Scott Pelley on ‘Transformative Development’ of Abandoning Sky Box for DNC Coverage

13 hours ago

Updated: Philadelphia — It’s such a simple notion as to be downright radical: While every other major broadcaster at the Democratic National Convention is anchoring news reports from sky boxes high above the floor of the Wells Fargo Arena here, CBS has gone old school. The network of Dan Rather and Walter Cronkite and its current evening news anchor, Scott Pelley, is delivering the news from a booth right on the floor of the Wells Fargo Arena.

Pelley and the rest of the CBS team have been having a strong week, as Hillary Clinton prepares to accept the nomination as the first female presidential nominee of a major political party. “CBS Evening News” recently notched its best ratings in a decade, powered in good measure by its coverage of Campaign 2016.

Pelley, who turns 59 on Thursday, feels like the network’s roost on the floor of the convention is bringing viewers an immediacy unmatched by any of its »

- James Rainey

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Ted Sarandos: No Slowdown in Netflix’s Spending on Original Series

13 hours ago

Ted Sarandos has no intention of putting the breaks on Netflix’s volume of original programming. The streaming giant’s chief content officer said Wednesday that the industry’s hand-wringing over the question of whether there’s too much TV reflects an outmoded mindset about the way people consume entertainment.

“There are too many mediocre, safe shows on linear television — I’m with you,” Sarandos said during his executive Q&A session as part of Netflix’s portion of the Television Critics Assn. summer press tour in Beverly Hills.

Sarandos was pressed on the question of whether Netflix’s originals are in danger of getting lost in the shuffle because it is turning out so much content at such a fast clip. But Netflix’s model is about making sure it has a broad range of content to appeal to various subsets of subscribers, not all of its subscribers flocking to a few shows.

“If »

- Cynthia Littleton

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‘Narcos’ Showrunners Talk Drama’s Future Without Pablo Escobar

13 hours ago

Season two of “Narcos” will be the last featuring drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, played by Wagner Moura. But the series’ producers contend that it won’t be the last for the show.

“The show is not about Pablo Escobar,” executive producer Jose Padilha said at the Television Critics Association press tour Wednesday. “The show is about cocaine. It’s about drug dealers that sell cocaine. The show is still going to be the show it is.”

Moura revealed to Netflix talk-show host Chelsea Handler in June that “Narcos” season two would cover a period of time leading up to Escobar’s death. In real life, Escobar died in 1993 in Medellín, Colombia.

“This is definitely the last season for me,” Moura said at TCA Wednesday. Explaining the difference between seasons one and two, he added, “The first season is an epic in that it covers 15 years of the drug trade. The second season is less epic, more »

- Daniel Holloway

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TV Ratings: DNC Beats Rnc by Nearly 5 Million Viewers in Night 2 Final Numbers

13 hours ago

The final TV ratings are in for the second night of the Democratic National Convention, and once again the DNC attracted a larger audience than its Republican counterparts did last week.

From 10-11:15 p.m. — a timeframe that included headline speaker Bill Clinton’s nearly 50-minute speech extolling the virtues of official Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton — NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and Fox Business Network drew an average audience of 24.7 million.

That number is slightly below the total for Night 2 of 2012’s DNC, which drew 25.12 million across those networks, minus Fox Business, but plus PBS and Current TV. It is, however, nearly 5 million more pairs of eyeballs than Night 2 of the 2016 Rnc drew last Tuesday (19.75 million).

CNN, which garnered the biggest convention audience of the night, was once again up sharply from 2012’s draw, with 5.93 million total viewers from 10-11:15, and 2.05 million in the important-to-cable-news demographic of 25-54. In 2012, CNN drew 4.13 million total »

- Oriana Schwindt

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DirecTV, Dish, Comcast to Deliver NBC Rio Olympics Programming in 4K Ultra HD

14 hours ago

Owners of Ultra HDTVs who are also customers of DirecTV, Dish Network or Comcast are in luck: They’ll be the only people in the U.S. able to watch NBC Olympics’ 83 hours of coverage from Rio in the vividly sharp format — with four times the resolution of regular HD.

But the Uhd programming won’t be live: NBC Olympics’ 4K Ultra HD coverage will include footage from the Opening and Closing Ceremonies on a 2.5-hour delay, along with swimming, track and field, basketball and judo, each on a one-day delay, as well as video shot around Rio. The programming on the three pay-tv providers’ platforms will be available starting Aug. 6, the day after the Opening Ceremony, through Aug. 22, the day after the Games conclude.

At&T’s DirecTV, the first U.S. pay-tv provider to offer a dedicated 4K Uhd channel, will make the Olympics programming in the format available to customers with the Ultimate programming »

- Todd Spangler

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Melissa Harris-Perry on Bernie Sanders Booing, Not Watching MSNBC

14 hours ago

Liberal writer and professor Melissa Harris-Perry is covering this year’s Democratic National Convention for Elle and Bet. She spoke to Variety about the booing on the convention floor from Bernie Sanders supporters, and why she doesn’t watch MSNBC after the network took away her show last February.

What do you make of the booing from the Bernie Sanders supporters?

I think it’s fine to not be happy. I want to be a little careful, because I’m here [at an event] and not watching it. It’s my understanding they are booing speakers.

They even booed Bernie.

That does sound troubling to me. So I’m not a fan of false unity. I’m not a fan of putting down dissent. But I am a fan that dissent has to be substantive. Substantive dissent will get us to a far more useful place than dissent for dissent’s sake. If they are booing Sanders because they are »

- Ramin Setoodeh

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TV Publicity Vet Paul Hewitt Promoted at the CW

14 hours ago

Paul Hewitt has been promoted at the CW, taking on the title of executive vice president of communications.

The announcement was made Wednesday by CW president Mark Pedowitz to whom Hewitt will continue to report.

In his new elevated role, Hewitt will continue to oversee all communications strategies, media relations, program publicity, corporate communications, photo publicity and talent relations for the network, in addition to internal communications.


Hewitt — who most recently served as senior vice president of network communications at the CW — has been with CW since the network’s formation in 2006.

The well-liked exec joined the net as vice president of corporate communications, managing trade and business press for marketing strategies, digital efforts, ad sales and ratings, plus executive speechwriting.

Prior to CW, Hewitt was at Upn where he started in 2002 as director of corporate communications, before being promoted to veep of communications in 2003. Previously, he was at Fox where he served as manager of corporate »

- Elizabeth Wagmeister

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SNL’s ‘Weekend Update’ Anchors Poke Fun at Bernie Supporters

14 hours ago

Although Hillary Clinton is the official Democratic candidate for presidency, Bernie Sanders supporters are still making noise in Philadelphia. In a “Today” show segment, “Weekend Update” co-anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che went to the Democratic National Convention to see where Sanders supporters fans stand at the moment.

“You want people to listen to you and you’re wearing a toddler’s hat,” said Che to a supporter wearing a colorful point hat.

“What do you think is in Bernie Sanders’ e-mails? A bunch of soup coupons?” asked Che.

Jost and Che pressed supporters on controversial topics, including whether or not they thought Hillary Clinton would spoil “Game of Thrones” or what exactly is the “common man.” But mostly they pointed out the plethora of outfit choices that unify Sanders fans.

“Is there such a thing as a Bernie supporter stereotype?” asked one Sanders supporter.

“Yeah, show the clip of all the Bernie supporters we’ve seen »

- Maria Cavassuto

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Amazon Picks Up ‘The Last Tycoon’ with Matt Bomer and Kelsey Grammer

14 hours ago

Amazon has ordered Sony’s “The Last Tycoon” to series. As first reported by Deadline, the TV adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s unfinished 1930s-set final novel will star Matt Bomer as young film exec Monroe Stahr and Kelsey Grammer as his mentor—and soon-to-be enemy—Pat Brady. Rosemarie DeWitt will play Rose Brady, Pat’s possibly two-timing wife, with Lily Collins playing Brady daughter Celia.

The Hunger Games” and “Shattered Glass” scribe Billy Ray will write and direct the series, which comes from Sony’s TriStar TV. The pilot, available to watch now on Amazon Video, drew good reviews from viewers, with 79% giving it a five-star rating.

“The Last Tycoon” already has one TV adaptation, as a 1957 play broadcast by CBS as part of the “Playhouse 90” anthology series, starring Jack Palance as Stahr. Harold Pinter adapted the novel for the big screen in 1976, nabbing Robert DeNiro for the role of Stahr and Robert Mitchum as »

- Oriana Schwindt

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Netflix Original Series Premiere Dates: ‘Black Mirror,’ ‘Gilmore Girls’ and More to Drop in 2016

15 hours ago

Netflix has announced premiere dates for its originals through the start of 2017. To save all the “Black Mirror” fans a search, the streaming service will drop the six-episode third season of Charlie Brooker’s dystopian anthology series in the wee hours of Oct. 21.

The streamer will serve up new original content roughly every two to three weeks throughout the fall of 2016, part of its attempt to grab and keep more subscribers both in the U.S. and abroad — all of the releases are global, so Netflix customers in Finland can get their fix at the same time as their American counterparts.

Here’s the complete list of premiere dates in chronological order; all premieres are set for midnight Pt:

“Chef’s Table: France”: Sept. 2, 2016

The sumptuous docuseries turns its palate to France for its third season. The following French chefs will be featured:

Alain Passard, L’Arpege Michel Troisgros, Maison »

- Oriana Schwindt

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