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‘The Comeback’ Season 2: Lisa Kudrow Talks HBO Comedy’s Return, Reassembling the Cast

8 hours ago

HBO’s “The Comeback” will return for a six-episode second season (or “limited event series”) in November, and Lisa Kudrow and Michael Patrick King were on hand at the Television Critics Assn. summer press tour on Thursday afternoon to explain the show’s unlikely resurrection.

King admitted that he and Kudrow have often discussed what Valerie Cherish might’ve been doing over the years following the show’s cancellation, but they never dared mention the possibility of reviving the series until HBO contacted them to explore the idea. King was effusive in praising HBO as collaborative partners, and said that it was important that they were able to bring the show back to the network that gave it the greenlight in the first place. “It was allowed to be this original thing that really couldn’t be fit in a box, and that was only because it was on HBO. »


- Laura Prudom

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Liev Schreiber on ‘Ray Donovan’ Cast: ‘We Came Up As Clean-Up Guys Instead of Leading Men’

9 hours ago

Time Warner Cable and Showtime pulled out all the stops at Wednesday’s spirited fete for the season two premiere of the gritty drama “Ray Donovan,” which nabbed an Emmy nomination in the best supporting actor category for Jon Voight, who plays Mickey Donovan, Liev Schreiber’s on-screen father sprung from prison and wreaking havoc on Ray’s personal life.

“There are so many good scenes when I look back on our last season,” said Voight. “I like to look at things as a whole, as a complete body of work (rather) than break things apart. It’s a joy to be a part of something as excellent as this.”

Following a screening of the premiere episode at Malibu Cinemas, where series stars Paula Malcomson and Dash Mihok were treated to popcorn, candy and cherry slushes, everyone headed to upscale sushi eatery Nobu — perched on Pch overlooking the Pacific. Guests »


- Malina Saval

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‘Manhattan’ Cast Talk Secrecy and World War II at Paley Center Panel

10 hours ago

The cast and creator of Wgn America’s second original series “Manhattan” talked to Variety about keeping secrets, living in isolation and their personal connections to this story on the red carpet at the Paley Center for Media Wednesday night.

“The idea that there was a time where a secret of that magnitude could be kept — it’s unfathomable,” said “Manhattan” creator and exec producer Sam Shaw.

The show centers on the Manhattan Project during the 1940s, when a $2 billion military project to develop the first atomic bomb took place off the books. A secret city was set up and not only did the American public not know about it, but the vice president didn’t know about it either.

“There are aspects in the world of the show that feel so foreign to a contemporary viewer,” Shaw said. “We live in an a moment now where Jay Z has »


- Nikara Johns

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‘Cosmos’ Creator Ann Druyan Talks ‘Affirmation’ of Emmy Noms

10 hours ago

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” earned a whopping 12 Emmy nominations this morning.

Creator Ann Druyan told Variety that the happy news served as positive affirmation.

“I’m just very proud,” Druyan said. “The idea that as a team we won 12 nominations — it’s just a huge affirmation. I knew that I was working with extraordinary people, but the idea that the Academy thinks so too, it’s just fantastic.”

Druyan created the original 1980 series “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage” with her late husband, Carl Sagan. She describes the experience as one the great honors of her life.

“This was 35 years ago, and the idea that this new one could have just an impact,” she said. “I mean the biggest rollout in television history — 181 countries around the world — and now this.”

»


- Nikara Johns

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Cinemax’s ‘The Knick’ Renewed for Season 2 Ahead of Series Premiere

11 hours ago

Cinemax has renewed Steven Soderbergh’s “The Knick” for season 2 ahead of its series premiere on Aug. 8, the network announced Thursday at the Television Critics Assn. summer press tour.

The second season will also consist of 10 episodes. Soderbergh confirmed he will direct the entire season, as he did with season 1. Set in downtown New York in 1900, “The Knick” centers on the Knickerbocker Hospital and its groundbreaking surgeons, nurses and staff, who push the bounds of medicine in a time of astonishingly high mortality rates and zero antibiotics.

“I’m going to do all 10 — you’re seeing a trend now of … a sense that there’s a positive aspect to having a visual language that’s very specific and very unified throughout the show,” Soderbergh noted. “It’s not only creatively satisfying, but also, practically speaking, better … in terms of economics … we schedule it like a film.”

Rumors of Soderbergh’s retirement were apparently greatly exaggerated, »


- Laura Prudom

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‘True Detective’ Season 2 Scripts ‘More Exciting’ Than Season 1

11 hours ago

Speculation continues to run rampant regarding the cast and plot of “True Detective” season 2, but HBO Chairman/CEO Richard Plepler and president Michael Lombardo were reticent about revealing much about the anticipated follow-up at the Television Critics Assn. summer press tour Thursday.

The execs refused to confirm rumors that the new season will feature one female and two male leads, but said that the two scripts they’ve read for season 2 so far are “more exciting” than season 1′s installments.

While they teased that announcements were imminent for the cast of the anthology series’ sophomore season, Lombardo admitted, “I think the people we will cast will be well known names, but that wasn’t our ambition [in season 1] … I think great writing attracts great actors.”

Season 1 of “True Detective” earned multiple Emmy nominations this morning, including lead actor nods for both Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, and a best drama nomination.

»


- Laura Prudom

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Emmy Scorecard: Ryan Murphy Productions Nabs More Noms Than Most Studios

11 hours ago

Ryan Murphy loves it when people who work on his shows are recognized in kudos races. He was rolling in clover on Thursday with an eye-popping 34 Emmy noms garnered by his Ryan Murphy Prods. banner.

The haul primarily came through big showings from FX’s “American Horror Story: Coven,” with 17 noms, and HBO’s “The Normal Heart,” with 16. “Glee” contributed a comedy directing nom for Paris Barclay.

Murphy’s tally helped 20th Century Fox TV and its affils lead the studio pack in Emmy tonnage with 44 bids for its various banners — and that’s not including the 16 for “Normal Heart,” which Murphy produced through HBO.

Sony Pictures TV grabbed 36, thanks to “Breaking Bad” (16) and “Masters of Sex” (5). Universal TV had 33, driven by “Saturday Night Live” (14), “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” (4). Warner Bros. TV and its affils took in 30, paced by “The Big Bang Theory” (7) and “Shameless” (3).

FX Prods. plucked 25 bids, »


- Cynthia Littleton

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HBO to Air Beyonce and Jay Z’s ‘On the Run’ Tour Concert in September

11 hours ago

HBO will premiere “On the Run Tour: Beyonce and Jay Z” — featuring the stars in their first collaborative tour — in September, the network announced Thursday at the Television Critics Assn. summer press tour.

The special will tape Sept. 12 and 13 at Stade de France in Paris on the only international leg of the married couple’s current tour, with the musicians performing over 40 songs during the lineup.

“This is a major musical event that belongs on HBO,” said HBO programming president Michael Lombardo. “It’s going to be a night to remember.”

Beyonce is featured on HBO’s “Beyonce: X10,” a 10-episode series of concert performances. Jay Z’s “Picasso Baby: A Performance Art Film” premiered on HBO in August.

Seventeen-time Grammy winner Beyonce and 19-time Grammy winner Jay Z have collaborated on a number of songs, including “Crazy in Love” and “Drunk in Love,” and have appeared as special »


- Laura Prudom

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Thomas Schlamme Compares Wgn America’s ‘Manhattan’ to ‘West Wing’

11 hours ago

Creator Sam Shaw and director Thomas Schlamme of Wgn America’s new show “Manhattan” compared their recent work on the 1940s period drama to hit shows “Masters of Sex” and “The West Wing” during Wednesday night’s panel at the Paley Center for Media.

Schlamme said that “Manhattan” shares a lot of the DNA with “The West Wing” by balancing the world of politics with the world of human emotion.

“It was very important in this show that scientists talk like scientists,” he said. “It wasn’t that important that everyone understood everything the scientists were saying. That was the golden rule in ‘West Wing,’ we never had to stop to explain to the audience what these people were talking about because what they would feel is what was the relationship between those people.”

Schlamme added: “That’s how these two shows relate, they are about very large issues, but »


- Nikara Johns

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Emmy Nomination ‘Snubs:’ So Who Would You Give the Boot?

12 hours ago

Michael Sheen is really, really good in Showtime’s “Masters of Sex.” And if push comes to shove, you could make a case for omitting Kevin Spacey or Jeff Daniels — the latter in the way MVPs usually don’t come from losing teams — to make room for him.

The Emmy nominations – more than almost any other entertainment award – quickly go from discussing “Who’s in?” to “Who was terribly slighted because they weren’t recognized?” Yet the focus on “snubs” seldom takes the next logical step – that is, contemplating who should be booted in order to make room for an overlooked contender.

So if you really love “The Americans,” say, or “The Walking Dead,” the question arises what doesn’t belong? “Downton Abbey?” An aging “Mad Men?” “Breaking Bad,” since the 2013 Emmys – coming so close to its final episodes – already felt like a kind of valediction?

Obviously, there’s no right or wrong answer. »


- Brian Lowry

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Emmy Nominations: How Accurate Were Our Predictions?

12 hours ago

In the days leading up to the announcement of the 2014 Emmy nominees, Variety set out to predict the most likely contenders in the drama, comedy, acting, miniseries and movies categories.  While by no means an exact science, many of our picks made the final cut — with a few surprises joining them.  Here’s how our predictions stacked up against the list final nominees:

Outstanding Series

The competition for best drama series led to an overabundance of contenders for the six slots that did not leave enough room for “The Good Wife,” as Variety had predicted.  “Downton Abbey” once again garnered a nom, edging out the CBS drama and other hopeful pick “Masters of Sex”.

Although it was expected to come out ahead, two-time winner “Girls” did not see a nomination for comedy series this year. Nor did newcomer “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” which was anticipated to pick up a series nom after »


- Shelli Weinstein

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To Launch New Series, Sprout Lets Space Animals Invade Its Kiddie-Program Lineup

12 hours ago

Space travelers have invaded TV’s kiddie-oriented Sprout network.

Tykes viewing a recent broadcast of the animated series “Justin Time” on the NBCUniversal-owned outlet may have been surprised to see the actual show shrink into the center of the screen as a group of animated animal astronauts surrounded it and started to comment on the action. Yet that surreal tableau is indicative of the aggressive maneuvers it sometimes takes to get a TV show – even one aimed at tater tots (young couch potatoes) – off the launching pad.

To get the word out about “Astroblast!,” a new original animated series set to debut on Sprout July 12th and then run seven days a week, the network is using an unorthodox means of promotion. About ten times per day in the week leading to the debut of the new program this Saturday, certain Sprout programs are being used for what Andrew Beecham, »


- Brian Steinberg

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Fox Announces Fall Premiere Dates, Sunday Bow for ‘Utopia’

12 hours ago

Fox is rolling out a good chunk of its fall lineup outside of premiere week, it announced Thursday, including early starts for multi-night reality series “Utopia”  and new drama “Red Band Society.”

“Utopia” kicks the net’s fall off with a special three-night launch, starting Sept. 7 on a special night, Sunday, that will allow the network to provide it with an NFL lead-in. It will then begin its regular weekly schedule of an hour on Tuesday and Friday that same week.

Following the second Tuesday episode of “Utopia,” Fox will launch early premieres for returning comedies “New Girl” and “The Mindy Project.” This will give the shows several weeks without comedy competition, as NBC will air expanded episodes of “The Voice” on the night to start the season.

“Hell’s Kitchen” will get cooking on its new season on Wednesday, Sept. 10 with a two-hour premiere. The following week, its regular »


- Rick Kissell

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New York Takes Starring Role in Emmy Race

13 hours ago

Who says the TV industry is just a Hollywood thing?

Not the Emmy voters, who this year recognized New York-based productions with a total of 107 nominations — topping even HBO’s heavyweight tally of 99. Add to that the deep pool of nominated talent that got its start on New York stages — everyone from Mandy Patinkin to Adam Driver — and it all serves to highlight the fact that on screen and on stage, New York and Hollywood are closer than they’ve ever been.

New York’s robust Emmy showing is part of an overall trend that has seen New York attract a growing chunk of TV and film production thanks to aggressive incentive programs from both the state and the city. The 107 nominations, touted by the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, encompasses all the shows that qualified for the city’s Made in NY incentive, open to productions of »


- Gordon Cox

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Despite Headwinds, Disney Expects Volume Gains In Kids’ Ad-Sales Market

13 hours ago

Disney thinks it has made a few steps forward in its effort to lure ad dollars to its kids’ programs, despite a difficult market.

The so-called “kids’ upfront,” the market in which Viacom’s Nickelodeon, Time Warner’s Cartoon Network and other youth-skewing players attempt to land approximately $800 million in advertising for their coming season of programming, continues, but Disney expects overall volume of advance commitments for all of its properties to increase, said Rita Ferro, executive vice president of Disney Media Sales and Marketing, in an interview.

“We consciously made an effort to go for share versus pricing,” Ferro said, moving to drive volume rather than haggle over a measure known as a Cpm, or the cost of reaching 1,000 viewers, which is a central element of these annual “upfront” talks between advertisers and TV networks. The company also made a strong pitch behind the idea of “co-viewing,” or an »


- Brian Steinberg

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BBC Chief Tony Hall Promises a ‘Competition Revolution’

13 hours ago

BBC director-general Tony Hall has pledged to open up the public broadcaster still further to competition from the independent sector, and liberate its in-house producers, drawing on comparisons with Hollywood.

In a speech delivered Thursday at City University in London, Hall paid tribute to the Hollywood moguls who “made a success as pioneers because they had liberty and a fierce desire to succeed.” He said he believed strongly in “the freedom and entrepreneurial spirit that made this possible,” and wanted to bring “the spirit of the entrepreneur and the pioneer to the BBC.”

He said the broadcaster would “go further than we have ever done before in opening the BBC to more competition,” a process he referred to as “a competition revolution.”

He added that he would not sacrifice quality, but wanted “great programs at great prices.”

Hall said that the BBC would move from a system of “managed competition” to “free competition, »


- Leo Barraclough

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TV Review: Syfy’s ‘The Almighty Johnsons’

14 hours ago

Occasionally, a lack of resources breeds ingenuity, and so it is with “The Almighty Johnsons,” a Syfy import from New Zealand. The out-there premise — four brothers, each of whom, upon his 21st birthday, acquires the powers of a different Norse god — yields fewer pyrotechnics than one might expect, but creates intriguing discussion about the show’s peculiar backstory. Decidedly different content standards between American and Kiwi censors (there’s some obscured nudity and a lot of bleeped-out expletives) creates a bit of awkwardness, but here, that’s a quibble. While it’s popular for series to talk about their mythology, not many revel in the process with quite as much gusto as this one.

The introduction to this Asgardian birthright comes through Axl (Emmett Couling Skilton), who is just celebrating his 21st birthday. In the midst of his party, however, he’s dragged away from the friend who constantly looks »


- Brian Lowry

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Emmy Haul Caps Wild Ride for ‘True Detective’s Nic Pizzolatto

14 hours ago

True Detective” was expected to haul in plenty of Emmy nominations after the tidal wave of critical praise for its eight-episode run. But expecting to land a bunch of noms is different from getting the official word that your creation has commanded 12 bids, including tickets to the top horse races for the series and stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson.

This kind of nuance matters to the man who penned such memorable lines as “time is a flat circle” and “we are things that labor under the illusion of having a self.” So the hard facts of Thursday’s Emmy nominations announcement were meaningful to Nic Pizzolatto, the “True Detective” creator who has seen his career skyrocket on the backs of two sweaty, ornery detectives hunting a serial killer in Louisiana bayou country.

Yes, there is an aspect of pinching himself on a day like today. Pizzolatto (pictured left with »


- Cynthia Littleton

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El Rey’s ‘Matador’ Renewed for Season 2 Ahead of Series Premiere

14 hours ago

El Rey Network has renewed new spy thriller “Matador” for season two ahead of its series premiere on July 15, the network announced Thursday.

The series, produced by Roberto Orci, centers around the rise of Tony “Matador” Bravo (Gabriel Luna), a professional soccer player for the La Riot who lives a double life as a covert operative for the CIA.

The second season will consist of 13 episodes. A sneak peek of the show’s series premiere is now available on iTunes, Vudu and Xbox 360.

“When Roberto first told me his concept for ‘Matador,’ I knew immediately that it had to have a home on El Rey. This show exceeded every possible expectation we had in terms of great storytelling, incredible action and unique characters,” said Robert Rodriguez, El Rey Network’s Founder and Chairman.

“Working with Robert and El Rey has been such a unique experience,” said Orci. “We’ve been »


- Laura Prudom

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Tatiana Maslany to Bellamy Young: Why Do Emmys Dismiss Great Acting in Genres and Soaps?

14 hours ago

With every Emmy announcement, there are the standard complaints about snubs. In such a fabulous year, it’s inevitable that certain things will get overlooked. Yet in the drama acting categories, there were some frustrating oversights, likely due to the fact that the shows weren’t deemed as Important with a capital I as others.

While Kerry Washington was recognized again in the lead actress category for her work on “Scandal” and respected vets Kate Burton and Joe Morton were nominated in the guest categories, it’s a shame many of Washington’s co-stars were overlooked in the supporting categories. Bellamy Young, who plays First Lady Mellie Grant, is one of the great success stories of the season. Mellie has gone from three lines in the “Scandal” pilot to the most vilified character on the show to one of the most beloved in the space of three seasons. The Critic »


- Jenelle Riley

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