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TV News Roundup: Nickelodeon Orders ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ Season 12

2 hours ago

In today’s roundup, Nickelodeon has ordered a 12th season of “SpongeBob SqaurePants,” The History Channel has commissioned a one-hour Watergate special, Investigation Discovery is airing a documentary special about Bill Cosby’s downfall, and production has begun on Cartoon Network’s “DC Super Hero Girls.”

Renewals

Nickeloden has ordered Season 12 of “SpongeBob SquarePants,” the number-one animated series across all TV with kids. The 26-episode pick up will further the nautical adventures of SpongeBob and his Bikini Bottom friends Patrick, Sandy, Mr. Krabs, Plankton and Squidward, and is scheduled to premiere in 2019, the series’ 20th anniversary year. Season 11 debuts later this summer. Nickelodeon has also greenlit a third SpongeBob film for release in 2019 as well. “Spongebob Squarepants” is executive produced by creator Stephen Hillenburg.

Casting

Richard Kind has been cast in the guest starring role of Benny Konopka in Electric Entertainment’s series “The Librarians,” which will run for a fourth season on TNT this winter. “The »


- Erin Nyren

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FCC Will Not Take Action Over Stephen Colbert’s Trump Remarks

4 hours ago

The FCC will not take any action in response to complaints over a May 1 broadcast of “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,” in which the host quipped during his opening monologue that “the only thing [Trump’s] mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s c— holster.”

The FCC received thousands of complaints following the broadcast. In response to an inquiry, an FCC spokesman provided a statement on the status of its review.

“Consistent with standard operating procedure, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau has reviewed the complaints and the material that was the subject of these complaints,” the FCC statement said. “The Bureau has concluded that there was nothing actionable under the FCC’s rules.”

Colbert’s remark was bleeped out of the broadcast and his mouth was blurred.

The FCC’s conclusion means that it found that Colbert’s remark did not rise to the level of obscenity or indecency to warrant any kind of sanction or »


- Ted Johnson

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Stephen Colbert’s ‘Late Show’ Tops Jimmy Fallon’s ‘Tonight Show’ in 2016-2017 Season Ratings

4 hours ago

Stephen Colbert’s “Late Show” has officially overtaken Jimmy Fallon’s “Tonight Show” in the ratings for the 2016-2017 season.

With three nights left in the traditional September to May season, Colbert’s CBS late-night show is averaging 3.195 million viewers per episode, compared to Fallon’s 3.173 on NBC, according to Nielsen data through May 19. Colbert’s victory marks CBS’ first late night win since the 1994-1995 season, excluding 2009-2010 when NBC replaced Conan O’Brien with Jay Leno midway through the season. “The Late Show” was also the only late-night program to post year-to-year growth in total viewers, up 11% from 2.89m.

There are some caveats worth mentioning, however. Fallon is still the late-night king of adults 18-49. To date, Fallon is averaging a 0.81 rating in the key demo, compared to Colbert’s 0.58, meaning Fallon enjoys a 33% advantage over his nearest competition in that measure, which is the measure most important to advertisers. In »


- Joe Otterson

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Julie Ann Robinson Signs Overall Deal With Universal TV

4 hours ago

Director and executive producer Julie Anne Robinson has signed an overall deal with Universal Television. The two-year agreement agreement covers Robinson and her company CannyLads Productions.

Robinson and CannyLads had previously been under a deal at ABC Studios, where Robinson developed multiple projects including “The Catch” with Shonda RhimesShondaland. She has directed 10 broadcast pilots, including pilot for ABC’s “The Middle” and “How To Live with your Parents.” Her other directing work includes “Orange is the New Black,” “I’m Dying Up Here,” and “Masters of Sex.”

“We have been fans of Julie Anne’s work for quite some time, so when she became available, we literally jumped at the chance to bring her to Universal Television,” said Universal Television president Pearlena Igbokwe. “She’s an amazing director with a great eye for material.”

In addition to Robinson, CannyLads also includes head of development Kelly Pancho and creative exec Emman Sadorra.

“I »


- Daniel Holloway

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Manchester Explosion Coverage Reshapes Cable News Ratings

5 hours ago

MSNBC’s recent primetime ratings winning streak was halted Monday night as breaking coverage of the explosion around the United Kingdom’s Manchester Arena on Monday shuffled the recent pecking order of the cable-news networks.

Fox News Channel, which saw its usual dominance of primetime upset last week by MSNBC, led Monday night in terms of both viewers between 25 and 54 – the demographic most coveted by advertisers – as well as overall audience, according to preliminary numbers from Nielsen. Fox snared 884,000 viewers between 25 and 54, compared with 729,000 for CNN and 444,000 for MSNBC.

The fluctuating measures suggest that no network’s position is guaranteed in a chaotic news cycle that has sparked rabid consumption of TV news even as it has polarized audiences. MSNBC’s primetime schedule, led by 9 p.m. host Rachel Maddow, handily won last week. The audience spikes appeared to be driven by a series of news breaks surrounding the government’s ongoing investigation into Russian interference with »


- Brian Steinberg

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‘The Flash’ Season Finale Exclusive Clip: Savitar Holds Cisco Hostage

5 hours ago

Things are looking very bleak for Team Flash heading into the Season 3 finale.

After months of preparation and planning, Barry (Grant Gustin) still wasn’t able to stop Savitar from killing Iris (Candice Patton). On top of that, Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) — who is still in full Killer Frost mode and working with Savitar — traded blows with Cisco (Carlos Valdes) and has taken him hostage.

In an exclusive clip of Tuesday’s season finale, Savitar — really just another version of Barry — tells Cisco his plan to rule throughout time and how his former friend is going to help.

“You want to splice yourself throughout time?” Cisco asks. “Exist in every single moment there ever was?”

“I’ll be everywhere,” Savitar responds. “Every hour, every minute. And then I will rule from the Big Bang to the end of the world.”

Savitar reveals that he left Team Flash alive for so long because he needed Tracy Brand (Anne Dudek) to »


- Jacob Bryant

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James Corden on ‘Carpool Karaoke,’ Ratings and Staying Out of the Political Fray

5 hours ago

“What’s next?”

James Corden won’t let himself — or his team — sit still.

Two years into his surprise takeover of CBS’ 12:35 a.m. late-night slot, he’s not taking success for granted. While his “Carpool Karaoke” phenomenon may have turned the once unknown British comedian into a household name on these shores, he’s ever aware of the fickle nature of audiences. Especially in the wee hours.

“I think with a show like ours you’ve got to build tentpoles that will prop your year up,” he says. “We always want our show to be more ambitious than its time slot.”

Art Streiber for Variety

So his schedule is packed with plans to keep innovating beyond the 60 minutes of airtime allotted by CBS for his “Late Late Show.” Recent weeks have seen him invite Harry Styles to move in for a weeklong residency and launch another prime-time “Carpool Karaoke” special (which earned him one of »


- Debra Birnbaum

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Comedy Central Orders More Episodes of ‘The President Show’

5 hours ago

No one can tell at this point if President Trump will get four more years in office, but Anthony Atamanuik will get at least seven more episodes to make fun of him.

Comedy Central has extended the episode order for Atamanuik’s “The President Show,” in which he plays Trump as a rambling late-night host who holds court in the Oval Office and at the Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla.

The weekly half-hour, which launched April 27 in the 11:30 p.m. Thursday slot, snared 1 million viewers over the course of three days, according to the network, marking the biggest series premiere on the Viacom-owned outlet since the launch in 2014 of “Broad City.” Over four episodes, the program has attracted an average of 870,000 viewers and has increased its ratings in the adults 18-49 demo in the timeslot by 21%, the network said.

“I’m so grateful that Comedy Central has decided to end its tenure as a cable »


- Brian Steinberg

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Remote Controlled: ‘Amazing Race’ Producers on Casting Secrets, Travel Disasters and That Emmy Streak

5 hours ago

Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera.

In this week’s episode, Variety‘s executive editor of TV Debra Birnbaum talks with “Amazing Race” executive producers Bertram van Munster and Elise Doganieri about their CBS reality hit, now in its 29th season.

Keeping the show fresh isn’t a challenge for them. “The world is a big place,” says van Munster. “We take (the contestants) to places they don’t know, they don’t recognize, very often they don’t speak the language. They always try Spanish, which doesn’t work in India.”

There are still a lot of places they haven’t been to, “including North Korea,” says van Munster. “We’re halfway through our Amazing Race,” says Doganieri.

Adds Doganieri, “Casting is also important to keep it fresh. It seems there was a whole new generation that has been »


- Debra Birnbaum

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Fox News Retracts Debunked Story on Murdered DNC Staffer Seth Rich

5 hours ago

Fox News said it had retracted a story about the murder of Seth Rich, a former Democratic National Committee staffer who was killed in Washington, D.C. last July and which has provided fodder for Sean Hannity, the network’s longest-serving primetime host. Hannity has in recent days promoted a debunked theory that Rich was killed in exchange for providing internal documents to Wikileaks, prompting statements of outrage from his family.

“On May 16, a story was posted on the Fox News website on the investigation into the 2016 murder of DNC Staffer Seth Rich. The article was not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting. Upon appropriate review, the article was found not to meet those standards and has since been removed,” the network said in a posting online Tuesday. “We will continue to investigate this story and will provide updates as warranted. ”

The »


- Brian Steinberg

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‘Supergirl’ Cast Unites to Promote ‘Wonder Woman’ Film

5 hours ago

Supergirl’ Kara Zor-El’s boots aren’t just for fighting — they’re also for walking.

A new “Wonder Woman” promo paralleling the boots theme aired following Monday night’s season finale of “Supergirl.” The short clip, set to a version of “These Boots are Made for Walking,” features “Supergirl” stars Melissa Benoist and Chyler Leigh, along with recurring guest stars Lynda Carter and Teri Hatcher.

The D.C. heroines, all donning extravagant boots, unexpectedly meet up in National City’s alien bar. Kara’s boots in particular, were lent to her by a fellow D.C. leading lady and “Wonder-ous” friend.

Lynda, of course, played Wonder Woman on the small screen from 1975 to 1979. She currently plays the President on “Supergirl.” During the ’90s, Hatcher played Lois Lane on “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman” and currently plays Rhea on The CW show.

Wonder Woman” hits theaters June 2, and stars Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman), Chris Pine (Steve »


- Rebecca Rubin

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SundanceTV Releases New Photos of ‘Top of the Lake: China Girl’

6 hours ago

SundanceTV has released new photos of “Top of the Lake: China Girl,” the second season of the BBC Two and See-Saw Films’ miniseries.

The crime mystery premieres in September 2017 on SundanceTV in the U.S., and stars Elisabeth Moss, Nicole Kidman, and Gwendoline Christie.

Four years after the first season, Moss reprises her Golden Globe-winning role as Detective Robin Griffin as she returns to Sydney to piece together her life. She takes on a new case involving an unnamed Asian girl whose body washes up on Bondi Beach. There initially seems to be minimal hope of finding the killer, but upon further investigation, Robin realizes “China Girl” didn’t die alone. Meanwhile, Robin grapples with wanting to find the daughter she gave up at birth and dreading revealing the truth of her conception. Her quest to uncover “China Girl’s” identity brings her closer to secrets of the city and her own heart.

David Dencik »


- Rebecca Rubin

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The Long Legacy of Conservative Media’s Assault on Truth: Ailes, Stone and Bannon (Column)

6 hours ago

The death of former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes last week underscored what an epoch we are currently witnessing in modern newsmedia. Ailes’ creation, Fox News, sparked and facilitated a polarization in American media that is unparalleled to this day; Stephen Metcalf, writing in the New Yorker, posited that “Ailes did more to degrade the tone of public life in America than anyone since Joseph McCarthy.” Since his dismissal in July 2016, the network has been embroiled in sexual harassment and racial discrimination lawsuits as well as an ongoing FBI investigation.

More significantly, the network is in hot water with its viewership, too. After years of reigning as the #1 cable news source, in the last few weeks it lost ground to competitors CNN and MSNBC. And last week, for the first time ever, MSNBC took the top slot. MSNBC is not a perfect analogue to Fox News — MSNBC flirts with moderation, while »


- Sonia Saraiya

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Overseas Buyers Flock to L.A. Screenings to Sample Studios’ Offerings

6 hours ago

The 2017 broadcast upfront season will be remembered as the year international licensing deals tipped the scales on the fate of numerous series renewals.

Several dramas that were on the bubble from a purely ratings-based standpoint got a new lease on life in part because they rake in licensing money from overseas TV outlets. NBC’s “Blindspot,” “Taken” and “Timeless” were spared the ax at home because they’ve clicked overseas. The same goes for ABC’s “Quantico,” CBS’ “Elementary” and “Hawaii Five-0,” and Fox’s “Gotham” and “Lucifer.”

The growing importance of international revenue to the overall profitability of scripted series has only heightened the profile of the annual L.A. Screenings market. Dozens of TV buyers from around the world are converging on Los Angeles this week for a whirlwind of screenings and sales pitches on studio lots. The focus of the L.A. Screenings is still largely on the broadcast network TV shows that were »


- Cynthia Littleton and Stewart Clarke

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Fall 2017-18 Network TV Schedule

7 hours ago

Now that we know which shows survived the upfronts, here are the most interesting match-ups on the Fall 2017-18 TV schedule.

ABC will look to launch freshman drama “The Good Doctor” with Freddie Highmore at 10 p.m. on the back of perennial viewership powerhouse “Dancing with the Stars,” putting it up against NBC’s new military drama “The Brave.” Meanwhile, CBS is pairing “The Big Bang Theory” with sitcom “9Jkl” and “Me, Myself and I” with the sophomore season of “Kevin Can Wait.” Fox will move “Lucifer” to Mondays at 8 as the lead-in to the new Marvel series “The Gifted.” The CW will debut its own military drama, “Valor,” at 9 after “Supergirl” in the timeslot previously occupied by “Jane the Virgin.”

ABC is shifting a few of their comedies, moving “Black-ish” to Tuesdays ahead of the new comedy “The Mayor” from “Hamilton’s” Daveed Diggs, which will then lead in to the new one-hour dramedy “The Gospel »


- Daniel Doperalski

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L.A. Screenings: What Seven Major Studios Have on Tap

7 hours ago

Here’s what seven major studios have on tap during the annual TV market.

CBS Studios Intl.

Big bets are being placed on military dramas “Seal Team,” starring David Boreanaz, and “Valor,” featuring a fresh-faced cast. Summer series “Salvation” also has a military angle (albeit crossed with sci-fi), while both Jeremy Piven’s “Wisdom of the Crowd” and Alan Cumming’s “Instinct” mix crime solving and modern technology. The studio is light on laughs this year, with just one solo-produced comedy: “9Jkl,” based on the life of creator and star Mark Feuerstein.

Disney Media Distribution

Not just one but four new Marvel series will be on display, including the much anticipated “Inhumans” and the youth-skewing “Cloak & Dagger,” “New Warriors” and “Runaways.” And although it’s not based on a comic book, “Grey’s Anatomy” officially becomes a franchise, launching a new as-yet-untitled spinoff. Shonda Rhimes also makes her case with legal drama “For the People,” while »


- Geoff Berkshire

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Michael Strahan Sets Unscripted Development Pact With ITV America

7 hours ago

Michael Strahan’s Smac Entertainment has set an unscripted TV development deal with ITV America.

The deal calls for Smac to develop a range of projects for network, cable and streaming buyers.

Strahan and his producing partner at Smac, Constance Schwartz-Morini, are already in business with ITV on the NFL Network series “Take My Ride.” The companies are also collaborating on projects with Wiz Khalifa and on adaptations of existing ITV formats.

“Constance and I have an enormous amount of respect for the team at ITV America and the group’s spirit of creative risk, support and collaboration, which is key for us as producers and entrepreneurs.

Smac will be able to tap into ITV America’s portfolio of production banners that includes ITV Entertainment, Leftfield Pictures, Loud TV, Outpost Entertainment, Sirens Media, Diga, Gurney Productions, High Noon Entertainment, and Thinkfactory Media.

Strahan has become a ubiquitous presence in TV as a co-anchor of “Good Morning America,” an »


- Cynthia Littleton

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‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Star Elisabeth Moss Partners With BBC America for Typhoid Mary Series

7 hours ago

Handmaid’s Tale” star Elisabeth Moss has signed on to star in and executive produce a new BBC America limited series about the infamous “Typhoid Mary,” Variety has learned.

BBC America will partner with Moss and Annapurna Television on developing the period drama titled “Fever,” based on Mary Beth Keane’s novel of the same name. It tells the true story of Mary Mallon, an Irish immigrant and cook who was the first known healthy carrier of typhoid fever. She became known as “Typhoid Mary” as she unknowingly spread the disease among several wealthy families in early twentieth century New York.

Moss acquired the original rights to Keane’s book and first sent the material Phil Morrison, who signed on as director and executive producer. Robin Veith is currently set to write the adaptation and will also serve as an executive producer alongside Moss, Morrison, and Annapurna’s Sue Naegle and Megan Ellison.

“I »


- Joe Otterson

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‘Bloodline’ Ep Talks Final Season Twists, Ben Mendelsohn’s Return, and ‘Intriguing’ Finale

7 hours ago

Will the secrets all come out?

Last season of “Bloodline” ended on as taut a cliffhanger as ever, with all the Rayburns’ secrets on the verge of being exposed. Desperate as ever to protect himself, Kevin (Norbert Leo Butz) ended up brutally murdering Detective Marco Diaz (Enrique Murciano), when he realized Marco had figured out that John (Kyle Chandler) had killed Danny (Ben Mendelsohn). Meg (Linda Cardellini) was on the verge of spilling all the family’s secrets to their mother (Sissy Spacey). And our erstwhile hero John Rayburn (Kyle Chandler), was running away from it all, driving away into the Florida darkness.

That this third season — which debuts May 26 on Netflix — would be the last came as a surprise to all involved, when Netflix made the announcement last fall. Here, executive producer Todd A. Kessler — who created and produces the drama along with Daniel Zelman and Glenn Kessler — tells Variety how that decision impacted the plans »


- Debra Birnbaum

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Trump’s Budget Calls for Elimination of Funding for Arts, Public Broadcasting

7 hours ago

President Donald Trump’s budget for the fiscal year 2018 calls for the eventual elimination of funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, a proposal that was expected and will likely lead to a furious round of lobbying to save the agency this summer.

The budget proposal calls for providing $29 million in funding “to conduct an orderly closeout of the agency beginning in fiscal year 2018.” That is just a fraction of the estimated $158 million outlay for the Nea this year.

Trump’s budget also calls for the elimination of funding for the Nea’s sister agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Also on the chopping block is funding for public TV and radio stations via the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The Cpb received an advanced appropriation for its 2018 fiscal year, but the White House budget calls for canceling much of its $445 million in funding. It requests just $30 million to conduct “an orderly closeout” of Cpb funding »


- Ted Johnson

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