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Chelsea Handler Doesn’t Want to Host the Oscars (or the Spirit Awards)

18 hours ago

Some awards hosts must wait forever for the offer, like this year’s Oscars headliner Jimmy Kimmel. But other comedians have a different problem: how to just say no.

In an interview with Variety last December, Chelsea Handler revealed she was offered the gig to emcee the Film Independent Spirits Awards. The star of Netflix’s streaming talk show “Chelsea” accepted, before promptly changing her mind.

In her place, the Spirits landed Broadway’s “Oh, Hello” actors Nick Kroll and John Mulaney, who will preside over the beachside festivities in Santa Monica on Saturday afternoon.

Handler also told Variety she has no interest in hosting the Oscars, but there’s one awards show she might consider. Here are a few snippets from our conversation.

Variety: Would you ever go back to network TV?

Chelsea Handler: I hope not. But who knows? I would never do a late-night talk show on a network. I »

- Ramin Setoodeh

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‘Doubt’ Pulled From CBS Schedule

20 hours ago

CBS has pulled Katherine Heigl-starring freshman drama “Doubt” from its schedule after just two episodes.

The network will air a rerun of “Bull” at 10 p.m. Wednesday in place of “Doubt.” The following week, the second season of “Criminal Minds: Beyond Border” will premiere, and will take over the timeslot going forward.

Production on all 13 episodes of “Doubt” was completed in December, prior to the holidays. CBS has not made a decision on if or when the 11 remaining episodes will air.

Doubt” premiered Feb. 15 to a 0.8 rating in the 18-49 demo and 5.31 million total viewers, according to Nielsen live-plus-same day numbers — slightly below the previous 10 p.m. Wednesday timeslot occupant, “Code Black.” A week later, the CBS Television Studios-produced series fell to a 0.6 and 4.03 million viewers. More than other broadcasters, CBS focuses on total viewers rather than the demo. But in viewers, the second episode of “Doubt” shed 45% of the total viewership of its »

- Daniel Holloway

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Remote Controlled: ‘Bates Motel’ Star Freddie Highmore, Ep Kerry Ehrin Preview ‘Heartbreaking’ Final Season

20 hours ago

Welcome to Remote Controlled, Variety’s podcast series featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera.

This week’s episode features Variety executive editor of TV Debra Birnbaum and editor-at-large Michael Schneider in conversation with “Bates Motel” star Freddie Highmore and executive producer Kerry Ehrin talking about the series finale.

The two open up about what it feels like to have wrapped production on the A&E drama after five seasons, and what they took from the set before it was torn down (Ehrin grabbed a tray; Highmore snagged Norman’s manager badge).

Freddie Highmore photographed exclusively for the Variety Remote Controlled podcast

Dan Doperalski for Variety

Ehrin said this season ended up where she always intended. “It was very much about answering the end of last season. What does a world look like that you’re completely conjuring up out of your own body and energy and brain? Our »

- Debra Birnbaum

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TV News Roundup: Ron Perlman Joins Season 2 of Crackle’s ‘StartUp’

21 hours ago

In today’s TV news roundup, Ron Perlman joins Season 2 of Crackle‘s original scripted drama “StartUp,” and more. 


Ron Perlman has been cast in the second season of Crackle‘s original scripted drama “StartUp,” joining previously announced cast members Adam Brody, Edi Gathegi,  and Otmara Marrero. Martin Freeman will also reprise his role from the first season. Perlman will portray Wes Chandler, an experienced, multi-millionaire businessman with a levelheaded grit. Season 2 of the series will debut this fall with 10 hour-long episodes.


Ripper Street,” BBC America’s co-production with Tiger Aspect, Lookout Point Production and Brown Bear Films, will return for a fifth and final season on March 8. The final six episodes picks up mere days after the grisly death of Detective Inspector Bennet Drake (Jerome Flynn). His old friends Di Edmund Reid (Matthew Macfadyen), surgeon Captain Homer Jackson (Adam Rothenberg) and ‘Long’ Susan Hart (MyAnna Buring) band together to bring Drake’s murderer, the »

- Sarah Ahern and Dani Levy

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Matt Czuchry Set for Fox Pilot ‘The Resident’

22 hours ago

Matt Czuchry is returning to broadcast TV. The “Good Wife” and “Gilmore Girls” star has just booked a role on Fox’s medical pilot “The Resident.”

Czuchry will play Conrad Hawkins, a cocky third-year resident at Kings County Hospital. The hourlong follows an idealistic young doctor who begins his first day under the supervision of a tough, brilliant senior resident who pulls the curtain back on all of the good and evil in modern day medicine.

The Resident” hails from scribes Amy Holden Jones, Hayley Schore and Roshan Sethi, with Phillip Noyce directing the pilot. Holden Jones will serve as executive producer, while Schore and Sethi are co-executive producers. Oly Obst and Antoine Fuqua are also exec producing. Fuqua Films and 3 Arts Entertainment are producing with 20th Century Fox TV.

Fox’s drama pilots in contention include a TV reboot of the war movie “Behind Enemy Lines,”  post-apocalyptic vampire thriller “The Passage,” and »

- Oriana Schwindt

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Oscars: Lapd Plans for ‘Multiple Scenarios’ With Three Tiers of Security

24 February 2017 12:23 PM, PST

Updated: The greatest suspense surrounding Sunday’s Academy Awards may surround questions of not “if” but “when.” When will the traffic backups near Hollywood Boulevard begin? When will “La La Land” win its first Oscar? When will the first statuette-holder unload on President Trump?

The 89th edition of Hollywood’s most important celebration comes during a time of unusual political turmoil and stark challenges for the entertainment industry. For one, the bulk of ticket sales are going to fewer films, the blockbuster sort that almost never get awarded on Oscar night.

For the second straight year, Hollywood Boulevard in front of the Dolby Theatre will be tented. While last year’s spring-like temperatures made the covering merely cosmetic, this year’s expected sub-60-degree temperatures and and possibly drizzling conditions will make the roof a welcome addition.

Before they get to the red carpet, the 3,300 guests will have to make their way through a three-tiered security perimeter »

- James Rainey

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‘This Is Us,’ ‘The Comeback,’ ‘thirtysomething’ Panels Added to Atx TV Festival

24 February 2017 12:00 PM, PST

This Is Us” is coming to Austin. The next round of Atx Television Festival panels have been announced, and they include a “This Is Us” discussion, Lisa Kudrow’s “The Comeback,” and a “thirtysomething” reunion.

NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke will join “This Is Us” creator Dan Fogelman, executive producer Ken Olin, and stars Milo Ventimiglia and Mandy Moore for a panel about the biggest success story of the 2016-17 TV season, which recently received a rare two-season renewal.

On the reunion side, “thirtysomething” cast members Ken Olin, Patricia Wettig, Peter Horton, Melanie Mayron, Timothy Busfield, and David Clennon — many of whom directed episodes of the series when it was on the air and have gone on to direct and produce several other series over the years — will be getting together to mark the 30th anniversary of the series.

Lisa Kudrow’s “The Comeback” is getting the reunion treatment as well. Co-creator »

- Oriana Schwindt

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Sandrine Holt Books Female Lead in ABC’s Drama Pilot ‘The Crossing’

24 February 2017 12:00 PM, PST

Sandrine Holt will co-star in ABC’s pilot “The Crossing,” Variety has learned.

The “House of Cards” alum has been cast as the female lead in the drama, which is nearing a deal with her male co-lead, sources say.

In “The Crossing,” refugees from a war-torn country start showing up to seek asylum in an American town. Only the country these people are from is America and the war they are fleeing is 250 years in the future. The local sheriff with a past, a federal agent, and a mother in search of her missing refugee daughter drive the conspiracy-centered story.

The pilot was written by Dan Dworkin and Jay Beattie, who will executive produce with Jason Reed. ABC Studios is producing the pilot.

Aside from “House of Cards,” Holt is known for AMC’s “Fear the Walking Dead,” Crackle’s “The Art of More,” USA’s “Mr. Robot” and the CBS reboot of “MacGyver.”

She »

- Elizabeth Wagmeister

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ABC Marketing Chief Marla Provencio to Depart Network

24 February 2017 11:56 AM, PST

Longtime ABC marketing chief Marla Provencio will leave the network after 35 years. Her exit was announced internally Friday in a memo to staff from Provencio and ABC entertainment president Channing Dungey.

Provencio was promoted to executive vice president, marketing, and chief marketing officer, ABC Entertainment, in November 2011, overseeing marketing for the network’s entertainment programming across all dayparts. She first began her career at ABC working in on-air promiotions in 1979. She was named executive vice president of marketing for ABC Entertainment in 2007, and had led the ABC’s marketing for many years prior.

Among the series she helped launch as the network’s marketing chief are “Modern Family,” “Once Upon a Time,” “How To Get Away With Murder,” “Resurrection,” “The Middle,” “Black-ish,” “Revenge,” “Castle,” “Marvel’s Agents of Shield,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Lost,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Scandal,” “Dancing with the Stars,” and “Shark Tank.”

A search for Provencio’s replacement is set to begin in the near future »

- Daniel Holloway

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‘Black Lightning’ Casts Cress Williams as Lead on CW Pilot

24 February 2017 11:43 AM, PST

Cress Williams has been cast as the lead in the CW’s new DC superhero pilot “Black Lightning,” Variety has learned.

A veteran of the CW’s “Hart of Dixie,” Williams will play Jefferson Pierce, a teacher who hung up his suit and secret identity years ago. But with a daughter hell-bent on justice and a star student being recruited by a local gang, he will be pulled back into the fight as the wanted vigilante and DC legend — Black Lightning.

Originally developed at Fox, “Black Lightning,” was ordered to pilot last month at the CW. It is executive produced by Greg Berlanti, who produces “Riverdale,” “The Flash,” “Arrow,” and “Legends of Tomorrow.” Berlanti’s partner Sarah Schechter also serves as executive producer along with writers Salim Akil and Mara Brock Akil. The pilot is produced by Berlanti Productions and Akil Productions in association with Warner Bros.

The pilot is based on based on the DC character »

- Daniel Holloway

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White House Blocks CNN, NY Times, Politico, La Times, Others From Press Briefing

24 February 2017 11:16 AM, PST

Several major news outlets found themselves blocked from attending a Friday White House press briefing with Sean Spicer, the Press Secretary, the latest sign of worsening relations between the Trump administration and the media attempting to cover it.

The New York Times, CNN, the Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, Buzzfeed and Politico were among the news organizations prevented from attending, according to posts by reporters from those outlets on Twitter, as were several foreign news organizations. The Associated Press and Time declined to take part. The White House was said to have invited press organizations to the event.

The three major broadcast networks – CBS, ABC, and NBC – were invited to the briefing, as were several news outlets that play to a conservative readership, such as Breitbart, The Washington Times and One America News Network.

The blocked access was disclosed just hours after President Trump railed against “dishonest” media and use of anonymous sources in stories about his »

- Brian Steinberg

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Bradley Whitford Joins Busy Philipps in NBC’s Tina Fey Pilot ‘The Sackett Sisters’

24 February 2017 11:00 AM, PST

The Sackett Sisters” is filling up its family tree.

The Tina Fey-produced comedy pilot at NBC has cast Bradley Whitford in a lead role, Variety has learned. Whitford joins previously announced star, Busy Philipps.

The Sackett Sisters” is a single-camera comedy 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. Whitford will play the character, Henry Sackett. Philipps will play one of the sisters, and the other sibling is still being cast, though insiders tell Variety a comic actress is in negotiations.

The pilot hails from “30 Rock” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” writer Luke Del Tredici, who will executive produce with Fey, Robert Carlock, and David MinerUniversal Television is producing with Fey’s Little Stranger shingle.

Whitford has courted a few pilot offers this season, both in comedy and drama. Lately, Whitford has earned critical praise for his role on Amazon »

- Elizabeth Wagmeister

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President Trump’s Anti-Media Remarks Could Serve as Rallying Cry

24 February 2017 10:54 AM, PST

President Trump’s continued remarks inveighing against the media are seen as oppressive and even authoritarian. But the news outlets that serve as the target for such opprobrium might be inspired by such comments, rather than abused by them.

Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday, the President told attendees d that media outlets should not be allowed to use unnamed sources in their reporting, even though his administration earlier in the day conducted a background briefing to deliver information to reporters. “I’m against the people that make up stories and make up sources,” Trump said. “They shouldn’t be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody’s name. Let their name be put out there. Let their name be put out.” He also accused certain outlets of making up their own sources for stories, and warned the White House would “do something about” media outlets he characterized as “dishonest.”

For »

- Variety Staff

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Emmy Awards Add Music Supervision, Reality Series Casting Categories

24 February 2017 10:28 AM, PST

Two new categories have been added to the 2017 Emmy Awards race: Music supervision and casting in a reality series.

The decision was made Thursday night during a meeting of the Television Academy’s board of governors.

Among the other changes approved was the split of cinematography for a single-camera series into two sub-categories, for hourlong and half-hour series.

Several award changes were made in the interactive realm: Outstanding Interactive Program (Existing category award) Outstanding Original Interactive Program (New category award) Outstanding Creative Achievement In Interactive Media Within A Scripted Program (New category award) Outstanding Creative Achievement In Interactive Media Within An Unscripted Program (New category award) Outstanding Innovation In Interactive Programming (New juried award)


More expansive changes were announced last year, including the addition of several categories recognizing short-form series, as well as the expansion of the Creative Arts Emmys into two awards shows.

A full list of the rules changes will be available at the Emmys »

- Debra Birnbaum

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What to Expect on ‘Nashville’ After Connie Britton Shocker

24 February 2017 10:08 AM, PST

Spoiler Alert: Do not read ahead if you have not watched “Nashville” Season 5, episode 9, titled “If Tomorrow Never Comes,” which aired on Cmt on Thursday, Feb. 23.

Connie Britton’s “Nashville” character, Rayna, was killed of this week’s episode of the country music series, sealing Britton’s fate — the actress is leaving the show.

Britton’s decision to leave the show was a creative choice that was made soon after the show moved from ABC to Cmt, according to “Nashville” showrunner Marshall Herskovitz.

“When Cmt picked up the show, Connie came to [co-showrunner] Ed Zwick and myself and said that she felt inner conflict. She felt that creatively, she wanted to move on from the show, and she was very torn because she loved the show. She loved the people on the show and it was like a family, but after four years, she felt she needed a different challenge, which is something I really understand as an »

- Elizabeth Wagmeister

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‘Girls’ Director Richard Shepard on Sunday Night’s Searing Episode ‘American Bitch’

24 February 2017 10:00 AM, PST

Spoiler alert: Do not read until you’ve watched episode 3 of season 6 of “Girls,” titled “American Bitch.” The episode — along with new eps of “Big Little Lies” and “Crashing” — will be released earlier than usual on Friday on HBO Now, HBO Go, and On Demand.

Sunday night’s episode of “Girls” is one of the finest half-hours the show has produced — essentially a one-act short film in which Hannah (Lena Dunham) visits the apartment of Chuck Palmer (Matthew Rhys), an acclaimed author accused of sexual assault. The resulting encounter between the two of them is one of manipulation and shifting power dynamics, one that uses Dunham’s gift for reproducing awkwardness to sharpen the conclusion of the episode into a jagged, uncomfortable point. It seems almost reductive to observe that the episode addresses rape culture, consent, and the power dynamics between entitled creative men and vulnerable creative women — it is about all of this, but »

- Sonia Saraiya

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‘When We Rise’ Ep Dustin Lance Black: ‘This Is Going to Be More Timely Than I Thought’

24 February 2017 10:00 AM, PST

“From the beginning I said it should be ‘When We Rise,’ the we being the biggest part of it,” says writer/producer/director Dustin Lance Black, of naming the eight-hour, four-part miniseries that premieres on February 27 on ABC.

A few feet away, director Dee Rees (“Bessie”) sets up a scene outside the storefront that once housed activist Harvey Milk’s campaign office for City Supervisor (it’s now fittingly a space occupied by the Human Rights Campaign). In the scene, a young Cleve Jones (Austin P. McKenzie) runs out to Castro Street to talk with soon-to-be disco star Sylvester (Justin Sams), who he has become friends with. The real Cleve Jones, an activist still living in San Francisco and consultant on the project, stands off to the side and watches the moment from his own life as its recreated for the cameras.

If anyone were going to write “When We Rise,” it »

- Jim Halterman

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Tracy Morgan’s Next Comedy Special Will Debut on Netflix

24 February 2017 9:37 AM, PST

Netflix’s onslaught of highly anticipated comedy specials continues: Tracy Morgan’s first stand-up special since the 2014 traffic accident that nearly took his life will drop on the streaming service on May 16.

The “30 Rock” star filmed the special, “Staying Alive,” in October 2016 in New Jersey, tackling the difficulties in coping with a traumatic brain injury and learning to walk again (while falling for his physical therapist), as well as the loss of his friend James McNair in the crash.

Morgan has made a full recovery and has . In addition to the already-taped “Staying Alive,” Morgan will star in a Richard Pryor biopic, “Richard Pryor: Is It Something I Said?,” where he’ll star as Redd Foxx. He also has big-screen comedy “The Clapper” in the hopper, can currently be seen in the Ice Cube-Charlie Day feature comedy “Fist Fight,” and will star in a comedy for TBS executive produced by Jordan Peele, John Carcieri »

- Oriana Schwindt

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Freddie Highmore to Star in ABC Pilot ‘The Good Doctor’

24 February 2017 9:00 AM, PST

Freddie Highmore has found his next project — the “Bates Motel” star has been cast in the lead role in ABC’s drama pilot, “The Good Doctor,” Variety has learned.

The Good Doctor” tells the story of Shaun Murphy, a young surgeon with autism who relocates from a quiet country life to join a prestigious hospital’s surgical unit. Alone in the world and unable to personally connect with those around him, Shaun uses his extraordinary medical gifts to win over his skeptical colleagues and save the lives of the patients he deeply cares for.

Highmore will play the central character, Dr. Shaun Murphy, who is described as being awkward at the best of times, not good with social interaction, but possessed of an engaging honesty and directness. A medical savant, Shaun has survived a troubled childhood to become a talented doctor. Unable to access emotions but brilliant and intuitive when it comes to medicine, Shaun »

- Elizabeth Wagmeister

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‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Cast and EPs Discuss the Dystopian World in New Featurette (Watch)

24 February 2017 9:00 AM, PST

Imagine if all the fertile women in the world were rounded up and enslaved by an extreme regime that takes away their rights and their families.

According to the stars and creators of Hulu’s upcoming drama “The Handmaid’s Tale,” based on Margaret Atwood’s novel of the same name, that horrible reality “seems far away, but it also seems like it could be so close.”

“It’s really a dystopian world where an extreme regime rises up and says we have a better way,” explains executive producer Warren Littlefield in an exclusive new featurette for the show.

Turns out that better way is to snatch fertile women away from their friends and families and forbid them from even speaking about their previous lives.

In one scene from the new trailer, we see the captured women being lectured on how the world has become so filled with chemical pollution and radiation, that »

- Will Thorne

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