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‘La La Land,’ ‘Game of Thrones’ Win Cinema Audio Society Awards

14 hours ago

La La Land” and “Game of Thrones” walked away with top film and television honors at the 53rd Cinema Audio Society Awards Saturday night.

Finding Nemo” won the theatrical animated prize, while “The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble” took the documentary award. Other television winners included “Modern Family” and “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.”

The Jungle Book” director Jon Favreau received the organization’s Filmmaker Award. Previous recipients include Quentin Tarantino, Richard Linklater, Bill Condon, Rob Marshall and Jonathan Demme.

La La Land” is nominated for the sound mixing Oscar this year, along with “Arrival,” Cas nominee “Hacksaw Ridge,” Cas nominee “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.”

Game of Thrones” and “The People v. O.J. Simpson” won sound mixing Emmys last year.

Full list of Cas Awards winners below.

Motion Picture – Live Action

La La Land

Production Mixer: Steven Morrow, Cas »


- Kristopher Tapley

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Professional Wrestler Ivan ‘The Russian Bear’ Koloff Dies at 74

18 February 2017 10:08 AM, PST

The professional wrestler known as the bearded nefarious character “The Russian Bear” Ivan Koloff is dead. He was 74.

The news was confirmed in a statement released by the WWE: “WWE is saddened to learn that Ivan Koloff, best known to the WWE Universe as one of Bruno Sammartino’s most bitter rivals, has passed away,” part of the statement reads. His cause of death was reportedly liver cancer.

The news comes one day after it was announced that former WWE star George “The Animal” Steele had died. Wrestling legends mourned Koloff’s death, including Hulk Hogan who wrote on Twitter, “Rip Ivan Koloff, it’s been a tough week, Chavo, Nicole Bass, George Steel, Ivan and Marty Prince, I would feel helpless if not for my faith.”

Koloff was born as Oreal Perras in Montreal, Quebec, Canada and raised in rural Ontario. At 18 years old he left high school to join wrestling school with hopes of becoming »


- Seth Kelley

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Liberty Global Swings to Profit in 2016 as Content Profile Grows

18 February 2017 7:54 AM, PST

Liberty Global, the international cable arm of John Malone’s media empire, is coming off a strong 2016 financial performance in Europe as profile in the content arena is rising.

Liberty Global’s European cable business, which includes the U.K.’s Virgin Media, delivered full-year earnings of $2 billion, compared to a loss of $1.1 billion in 2015. The European operations saw a gain of 946,000 subscribers, most of them broadband. The company saw its video subscriber losses in Europe drop by 31% year-over-year, to 276,900.  Total revenue in Europe was up 2.5% for the year to $17.28 billion.

Liberty Global’s vast holdings in Europe and Latin America include Ireland’s Tv3 broadcast network, the Ziggo Sports channels in the Netherlands and the Formula-e racing franchise (Liberty Global’s cousin Liberty Media just bought the larger Formula One racing business).

Liberty Global also holds a 9.9% stake in the U.K.’s ITV and owns the U.K.-based »


- Cynthia Littleton

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CBS Casts Female Lead in Alan Cumming’s Drama Pilot ‘Instinct’ (Exclusive)

17 February 2017 6:16 PM, PST

Bojana Novakovic has landed the female lead in the CBS drama pilot “Instinct,” opposite Alan Cumming, Variety has learned exclusively.

Instinct” — formerly titled “Killer Instinct” and “Dr. Death” — is about Dylan, a former CIA operative, played by Cumming, who has since built a “normal” life as a gifted professor and writer, and is pulled back into his old life when the NYPD needs his help to stop a serial killer on the loose. Novakovic will play Lizzie, a top detective with the NYPD who approaches Dylan to help with a case.

The TV project is based on James Patterson’s soon-to-be released book. Patterson will serve as an executive producer on the pilot.

Written by Michael Rauch, the hourlong drama hails from CBS Television Studios. Rauch will exec produce with Alex Kurtzman, Heather Kadin, Bill Robinson, Leopoldo Gout and Patterson. Cumming will also pull double duty, serving as an executive producer, in »


- Elizabeth Wagmeister

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J.J. Abrams, Stephen King Team Up for Limited Series ‘Castle Rock’ on Hulu

17 February 2017 5:22 PM, PST

J.J. Abrams and Stephen King are teaming up for a limited series on Hulu.

The surprise announcement came Friday evening, thanks to a mystery image posted on the official Twitter account of Abrams’ company Bad Robot. The tweet signaled fans to a trailer for the series, titled “Castle Rock,” an ode to the fictional town in Maine, which is a popular setting in many of King’s novels.

pic.twitter.com/8NUboaLenj

Bad Robot (@bad_robot) February 18, 2017

Fans of Stephen King, known as Constant Readers, will recognize “Castle Rock” as the setting in many of King’s books, including “Cujo,” “The Dead Zone,” and “The Body.”

The trailer winds a path past many famous locations found in King’s books — like ‘Salems Lot, the Shawshank State Prison, Pennywise (the clown from “It”), the name Annie Wilkes (the crazed uber-fan in “Misery”) and more — before zooming out on a map of Maine.

“Castle »


- Jacob Bryant

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Warren Frost, Character Actor Known for ‘Twin Peaks’ and ‘Seinfeld,’ Dies at 91

17 February 2017 5:09 PM, PST

Warren Frost, the character actor best known for his role as Dr. Will Hayward on “Twin Peaks,” died Friday after a long illness at his home in Middlebury, Vt. He was 91.

Frost had recently come out of retirement to reprise his “Twin Peaks” role for the sequel to the ABC series that is set to debut on Showtime in May. Frost was the father of Mark Frost, the co-creator with filmmaker David Lynch of the revered mystery-fantasy franchise.

Warren Frost had a long career before and after the original “Twin Peaks.” He logged a memorable guest role on “Seinfeld,” playing the father of George Constanza’s fiancee in five episodes. He also limned a recurring character on the Andy Griffith legal drama “Matlock” and had guest shots on series including “The Larry Sanders Show,” “L.A. Law” and “Murphy Brown.”

“We’re saddened today to announce the passing of our dear old dad, Warren Frost »


- Cynthia Littleton

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TV Academy Celebrates New Choreography Peer Group With Derek Hough, ‘La La Land’s’ Mandy Moore

17 February 2017 3:56 PM, PST

The best choreographers in all of showbiz waltzed down to the Saban Media Center on Thursday night to celebrate the the Television Academy’s creation of a peer group for choreographers. Mandy Moore, of “La La Land,” and Derek Hough, from “Dancing With the Stars,” were among the choreographers in attendance.

The event, curated by the omnipresent Moore, consisted of a delightful variety show where different choreographers and dancers showcased the array of talents that coexist under the choreography umbrella. Anthony Morigerato, known for “Dancing With the Stars,” put on a stellar tap dancing display with a live jazz band accompanying him. Rich + Tone Talauega, choreographers of Netflix’s “The Get Down,” presented dancers showing off multiple styles, such as vogueing and breakdancing that was followed by a sneak peek of the show’s second season. Choreographer Kathryn Burns also shared the different dance styles used in her show, The CW’s “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.”

The »


- Daniel Grzywacz

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TV News Roundup: Busy Philipps Cast in NBC Comedy Pilot, Starz’s ‘Howards End’ Cast Grows

17 February 2017 3:01 PM, PST

In today’s TV news roundup, Busy Philipps has been cast in NBC comedy pilot “The Sackett Sisters,” BBC and Starz announce additional casting for miniseries “Howards End,” and more. 

Casting 

Busy Philipps is returning to broadcast TV. The “Cougar Town” alum will star in NBC’s comedy pilot “The Sackett Sisters,” Variety has confirmed. The project hails from executive producer Tina Fey. The single-cam comedy is about the Sackett family, which is reunited when two estranged sisters perform an act of public heroism and are forced to navigate the aftermath together. Philipps will play one of the sisters. “The Sackett Sisters” was written by “30 Rock” scribe Luke Del Tredici. Exec producers are Fey, Robert Carlock and David Miner. The project is the latest hot comedy in the works at NBC, following a sitcom co-created by Mindy Kaling, which will star Anders Holm. BBC and Starz announced Friday additional casting for miniseries “Howards End,” based »


- Sarah Ahern and Elizabeth Wagmeister

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Stephen Colbert Sets Live ‘Late Show’ After Trump’s Address to Congress

17 February 2017 2:50 PM, PST

Stephen Colbert will host a live edition of “The Late Show” on Feb. 28, the night of President Trump’s address to Congress.

Colbert has done 14 live telecasts since taking over the “Late Show” in September 2015. The move to go live after Trump’s first address to a joint session of Congress is a bid to capitalize on the public’s interest in the unpredictable political climate and to build on “Late Show’s” ratings momentum.

“Late Show” has in the past two weeks overtaken NBC’s “The Tonight Show” for the lead in total viewership, and it has closed much of the gap in the adult 18-49 demo race. Colbert has been laser-focused on biting political humor and the daily doings of the Trump administration, which to date has been a ripe source of material.

Colbert’s guests on Feb. 28 will include actress Lisa Kudrow and former Obama White House press secretary Josh Earnest.

“Late »


- Cynthia Littleton

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ABC Casts Sonia Braga in ‘Las Reinas’ Pilot, Sets Showrunner and Director

17 February 2017 2:30 PM, PST

ABC pilot “Las Reinas” has cast Sonia Braga, Variety has learned.

Additionally, Chris Brancato — creator of Netflix’s “Narcos” — has been set as showrunner, and Liz Friedlander will direct.

Las Reinas” centers around detective Sonya De La Reina, who is forced to confront her past when a case compels her to reconnect with her estranged family — the most powerful criminal outfit in Miami. Thrust back into the world she thought she had left behind, Sonya must walk the murky line between the law and her family, and question her true destiny as a De La Reina. Braga will play Gabriella De La Reina, the head of one of the most powerful crime syndicates in the world. After her husband was killed, Gabriella took over their small criminal enterprise and turned it into a multi-national, multi-million dollar behemoth of illegal and legal interests. She has it all — except the one thing she wants more than anything: to bring »


- Oriana Schwindt

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‘Silicon Valley’ Season 4 Trailer: Richard Makes a Big Announcement (Watch)

17 February 2017 1:26 PM, PST

The trailer for season 4 of HBO’s “Silicon Valley” has arrived, and Richard (Thomas Middleditch) has a big announcement: he’s quitting.

After the rest of the gang — including stars Erlich (T.J. Miller), Gilfoyle (Martin Starr), Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani) and Jared (Zach Woods) —stare at Richard with flabbergasted expressions, Richard shares he has bigger plans. “I need to build something else,” he says, pointing to a chalkboard that has the words “new internet” inscribed on it.

Partially inspired by co-creator Mike Judge‘s experiences as a Silicon Valley engineer in the 1980s, the series tracks the life of the introverted programmer Richard and his fellow tech-savvy genius friends, who built “Pied Piper,” a compression platform. As they attempt to hit it big in a high-tech gold rush, they have to face various obstacles, from bigger corporations looking to steal their idea to various shifts in executive rankings of the company.

Silicon Valley »


- Sarah Ahern

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‘Smash’ Alum Jack Davenport Signs Onto ABC Pilot ‘Doomsday’

17 February 2017 1:00 PM, PST

ABC’s “Doomsday” pilot has cast Jack Davenport as a series regular, Variety has learned.

Doomsday” is set in the aftermath of 9-11. The drama tells the story of a U.S. government-instituted secret think tank comprised of the most creative minds in science and entertainment, tasked solely with dreaming up man-made disaster scenarios and their possible solutions. The ideas they invented were so dangerous that the list was sealed and the program shut down. But when a catastrophe occurs ripped from the pages of the missing doomsday book, the team is brought back years later to prevent the disasters of their own making. Carol Mendelsohn and Julie Weitz also executive produce.

Davenport will play Warren, a well-known intellectual playwright turned middle-brow action screenwriter, who is also part of the former Doomsday Project think tank. Described as imaginative and creative, he sees the world like a story, which helps him think like and even empathize with the »


- Elizabeth Wagmeister

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‘The Walking Dead’ Alum Michael Cudlitz to Star in ABC Comedy Pilot ‘The Trustee’

17 February 2017 12:31 PM, PST

Michael Cudlitz may be deader-than-dead on “The Walking Dead,” but he’s coming back to TV life in the form of a broadcast comedy.

Cudlitz has signed on to star in ABC’s hourlong pilot “The Trustee,” Variety has learned.

The Trustee” is described as a fun female buddy cop comedy. The pilot follows a stubborn detective who finds unlikely help from her precinct’s trustee, a larger-than-life ex-con finishing out her prison sentence doing menial tasks for the police department. Though the duo has completely opposing views on crime and punishment, a highly entertaining and successful partnership is born.

Cudlitz will play Captain Timothy Waits, a wry and sardonic police captain who has learned to appreciate Eliza Radley’s — played by Meaghan Rath– unorthodox policing methods.

Jay Scherick and David Ronn penned the pilot and will serve as executive producers, along with Elizabeth Banks and Max Handelman. Warner Bros. Television is producing, along »


- Elizabeth Wagmeister

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‘Full Frontal With Samantha Bee’ Ratings Are Skyrocketing in the Trump Era

17 February 2017 12:23 PM, PST

While the effect of Donald Trump’s presidency on some late-night shows is still somewhat debatable, TBS’ “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee” is most definitely seeing a big bump in its numbers in the new year.

Full Frontal” had been enjoying a slow but steady climb before the election in the 18-34 and 18-49 demographics, as well in total viewership: The series premiered on Feb. 8, 2016, to a total average audience of 914,000, an 18-49 audience of 453,000, and an 18-34 audience of 208,000 in Nielsen’s Live+7 ratings.

By the time the Democratic and Republican National Conventions rolled around in July, the show was pulling in well over 1.2 million total viewers (the July 20 episode garnered a total audience of 1.6 million, and 757,000 18-49ers). The last episode before the end of 2016, on Dec. 19, was up to a total audience of 1.32 million, and 579,000 18-49ers.

The show returned on Jan. 11, a little more than a week before Trump’s inauguration, to »


- Oriana Schwindt

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Pressing World Issues Reflected in Writers Guild Policies

17 February 2017 12:00 PM, PST

Julia Louis-Dreyfus gave the Writers Guild of America some unexpected exposure at the SAG Awards on Jan. 29 after receiving a trophy for lead actress in a comedy series for her work on “Veep.”

Louis-Dreyfus said, “Our sister guild, the Writers Guild, made a statement today that I would like to read because I am in complete agreement with it. Our guilds are unions of storytellers who have always welcomed those from the nations and of varying beliefs who wish to share their creativity with America. We are grateful for them. We stand with them, and we will fight for them.”

She did not have time to read the statement, which had been issued a few hours earlier and began, “It is both unconstitutional and deeply wrong to say that you cannot enter our country because of where you were born or what religion you were born into,” said WGA West president Howard Rodman and WGA East president »


- Dave McNary

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Anders Holm to Star in NBC Comedy Pilot From Mindy Kaling and Charlie Grandy

17 February 2017 11:00 AM, PST

Anders Holm has nabbed the lead role in NBC’s hot comedy pilot from Mindy Kaling and Charlie Grandy, Variety has learned. Holm will star opposite Kaling, who will appear in a recurring role.

The untitled comedy centers around Vince — played by Holm — a charismatic gym owner with no ambition who lives with his younger brother Michael, a gorgeous idiot. Their simple life of women and working out is put on hold when the teenage son of Vince is dropped off on their doorstep by Priya (Kaling), one of his high school flings.

Kaling and Grandy co-created the pilot and will serve as writers and executive producers together. Howard Klein is also an exec producer. Universal Television is the studio, along with 3 Arts Entertainment and Kaling’s production company, which is set up at Universal TV under a multi-year deal, which Kaling inked this past summer for acting, writing, and producing.

Following »


- Elizabeth Wagmeister

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‘Planet Earth II’: How Camera Tech and Political Division Turned Nature Doc Into a Phenomenon

17 February 2017 10:47 AM, PST

When “Planet Earth” premiered in 2006 on Britain’s BBC One, it was the most expensive nature documentary series ever made, and the first to be shot entirely in HD. It was also a ratings bonanza. The first five episodes averaged 11.4 million viewers in the U.K. alone.

So why did it take 11 years to get a sequel on the air?

“These guys don’t want to make these shows just for the sake of making them or just for the sake of a large audience,” says Sarah Barnett, president of BBC America, where the miniseries will make its U.S. television premiere on Saturday night. “They’re driven by wanting to tell the best stories that they think they can tell.”

The first “Planet Earth” was remarkable largely because of its innovative use of HD cameras. “Planet Earth II” was sparked by further advances in camera technology that would allow the filmmakers to tell a more intimate »


- Daniel Holloway

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New Series at Forefront of WGA Nominations

17 February 2017 10:15 AM, PST

Every great project begins with a writer, and maybe that’s why no major guilds’ awards delivered more nominations to freshmen TV series this year than the WGA.

The guild’s lovefest with new small-screen titles begins with a category specifically designed to honor writers for their work on a first-year show: the new-series category.

The nominees include four fresh shows that have been racking up noms, and some wins, across various guild awards — FX’s “Atlanta,” Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” NBC’s “This Is Us,” and HBO’s “Westworld” — and also includes FX’s critically hailed “Better Things,” which has largely flown under the radar with other groups.

But even beyond that category, first-year series made a big showing. “Atlanta” is up for comedy series writing against returning nominees “Silicon Valley,” “Transparent,” “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” and “Veep,” while “Stranger Things” and “Westworld” are up for drama series writing opposite “The Americans,” “Better Call Saul »


- Geoff Berkshire

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The Case for Banning Kellyanne Conway From TV News (Column)

17 February 2017 10:02 AM, PST

The Trump Administration has presented many challenges to the television news media, but none is quite as flagrantly bizarre as the current widely held and little-disputed fact that White House Senior Counselor Kellyanne Conway can no longer be trusted on-air. Following a three-week “honeymoon” period where Conway invented a massacre, violated White House ethics rules in pimping Ivanka Trump’s clothes line on the news, and either deliberately lied or ignorantly misled the public about the president’s thinking on disgraced National Security Adviser Mike Flynn, at least one program has had enough.

Wednesday morning, Mika Brzezinski, host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” unequivocally declared that Conway would no longer be a guest on the show because of longstanding and recurring credibility issues. “Every time I’ve ever seen her on television, something is askew, off or incorrect,” Brzezinksi said on-air. Joe Scarborough, her cohost, affirmed this, albeit less strongly. “I »


- Sonia Saraiya

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TV Ratings: ‘The Walking Dead’ Mid-Season Premiere Pulls in 15.9 Million Viewers

17 February 2017 9:52 AM, PST

Spoiler alert: “The Walking Dead” is still a big ol’ eyeball draw. The mid-season premiere brought in 15.9 million viewers in Nielsen’s Live+3 ratings and 9.9 million viewers in the 18-49 demographic; up from the Live+Same Day ratings by 3.9 million viewers overall and 2.6 million in the demo. In the 25-54 demo, the return saw a lift of 2.6 million as well, bringing its total up to an even 10 million.

Those numbers are a bit off pace for the show. Last year’s mid-season return pulled in 12.3 million viewers in the 18-49 demo and 19.1 million viewers on the whole in Nielsen’s L+3 ratings. That’s a dip of about 17% in total viewers and around 20% in the 18-49 demo. The show peaked, ratings-wise, in its fifth season, and has been on a bit of a downward slope since; the lone exception being the highly anticipated Season 7 premiere, which brought in a whopping 17.03 million viewers on the night it aired »


- Oriana Schwindt

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