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FIFA Scandal Strikes Latin America

8 hours ago

The corruption scandal engulging FIFA, the worldwide soccer governing body, has hit Latin America hard. Among the sports execs facing charges is Alejandro Burzaco, principal shareholder and chief exec of giant sports marketing firm Torneos y Competencias, based in Buenos Aires.

The U.S. Dept. of Justice is seeking his extradition along with the controlling principals of Argentine sports marketing company Full Play Group, Hugo and Mariano Jinkis. They are among 14 FIFA officials and sports marketing execs from the U.S. and South America who are accused of receiving more than $150 million in bribes and kickbacks in exchange for media deals.

An estimated 70% of FIFA’s $5.7 billion in total revenues between 2011 and 2014 is attributed to the sale of TV and marketing rights to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

A judge in Argentina has ordered the arrest of Burzaco and the Jinkis, while the Brazilian Senate has moved to open a »

- Anna Marie de la Fuente

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Bill O’Reilly Announces Second Season of Fox News’ ‘Legends and Lies’

20 hours ago

Fox News Channel host Bill O’Reilly announced Thursday night on his “The O’Reilly Factor” program that “Legends and Lies: The Real West,” on which he serves as executive producer, will get a second season.

The current docu-style series recounts the tales of America’s Wild West, including Jesse James, David Crockett, Doc Holliday and Black Bart. The program features first-hand accounts from direct descendants and historians, along with the support of archival photographs and special effects. Season two will focus on American patriots.

According to Nielsen, “Legends & Lies: The Real West” is averaging 1.2 million total viewers, including 208,000 in the adults 25-54 demo. It airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on Fnc.



- Reece Ristau

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Sofia Vergara to Be Honored by SAG Foundation With Actors Inspiration Award

22 hours ago

Modern Family” star Sofia Vergara is being honored by the Screen Actors Guild Foundation with the inaugural Actors Inspiration Award. Vergara has a long track record of supporting nonprofits and children’s organizations, including St. Jude and her foundation in her home country of Colombia.

“Sofia’s support for our programs, commitment to children’s literacy and generous charitable giving embody the spirit of this award,” SAG Foundation president JoBeth Williams said in a statement.

The award will be presented at the 6th Annual Los Angeles Golf Classic on Monday, June 8, as part of the SAG Foundation’s 30th anniversary celebration.

“It is an honor to be recognized by the SAG Foundation,” Vergara said. “This group does so much work supporting and educating the entertainment community and also the general public. I know how hard it can be to get work in this town and I’m grateful that the »

- Reece Ristau

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‘Jurassic Park’ to Air on NBCU Nets Ahead of ‘Jurassic World’ Release

22 hours ago

Steven Spielberg and Chris Pratt will host a special presentation of “Jurassic Park” next week as part of an effort by NBCUniversal Networks to promote followup pic “Jurassic World.”

A broadcast of the original 1993 blockbuster will first air next Friday (June 5) on NBC, followed the next night by a “roadblock” presentation on Bravo, Syfy, USA Network, E! and a Spanish-language version on NBC Universo.

Spielberg and Pratt, the star of Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment’s “Jurassic World,” will share their respective memories of “Jurassic Park.” They will also introduce a two-minute, exclusive sneak preview of “Jurassic World,” which arrives in theaters on June 12.

The story of  Spielberg’s original comes full circle as the park that was only a promise comes to life. “Jurassic World” features a fully operational luxury resort off the coast of Costa Rica, where 20,000 guests explore the living prehistoric marvels — of every shape and size — and interact with them. »

- Rick Kissell

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Viola Davis Talks ‘Murder’ Role: ‘I Was Tired of Being the Third Girl from the Left’

22 hours ago

Actress Viola Davis was pretty open at Thursday night’s “How To Get Away With Murder” Fyc event at Sunset Gower Studios.

“I was tired of being the third girl from the left kinda feeling like I was jumping up behind a Meryl Streep or Julianne Moore saying, ‘Hey, I’m still here… I play the maid and I’ve got two lines!’”

The Shondaland star explained that saying “yes” to Annalise Keating was “a no brainer,” but not everyone on the panel was as loose-lipped. Even after a jaw-dropping finale on “Htgawm,” writer-creator Peter Nowalk kept any information about the ABC show’s impending second season under wraps.

“I don’t like to spoil anything. Obviously the fun of the show is you don’t know what’s coming,” he said.

Moderated by Debbie Allen, who directed an episode of the drama, the Q&A event revealed that viewers »

- Mannie Holmes

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NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ Finishes Season Strong, But Still Third

23 hours ago

After hitting a rough ratings patch, television’s longest-running program — NBC’s “Meet the Press” — seems to have turned a corner and ended the season on a high note.

The Sunday morning public affairs show, which has been moderated by Chuck Todd since last September, posted nice year-over-year ratings gains for the May sweep. According to Nielsen “live plus same-day” estimates, it shot up 31% in adults 25-54 (to 826,000) and 11% in total viewers (to 2.61 million). These were the NBC program’s top May sweep averages in three years.

Meet the Press” still finished in third place, but was competitive with both  CBS’ “Face the Nation” (891,000 adults 25-54 and 3.24 million viewers overall for its nationally-distributed first half-hour) and ABC’s “This Week” (881,000 adults 25-54 and 2.63 million viewers overall).

And though the 25-54 demo is the one most closely watched in the news business, “Meet the Press” could claim victory in the younger-adult »

- Rick Kissell

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For Peabody Jurors, the Message Is the Medium

23 hours ago

On the face of it, it might be surprising to learn than a CW series based on a telenovela would take home a prestigious Peabody Award.

Yet Peabody’s jurors look beyond the surface to honor shows that expand horizons, defend the public interest and encourage empathy with others.

The Peabody Awards began in 1941 as the radio equivalent of the Pulitzer Prizes, but have expanded to include all media from television to Web-based programs. This year, winners included such wide-ranging genres as NPR’s podcast “Serial,” Comedy Central’s sketch comedy “Inside Amy Schumer” and CW’s campy telenovela spoof “Jane the Virgin.”

“Jane” follows the unlikely tale of a virgin who accidentally has been artificially inseminated and lives with her single mom and widowed grandmother. She becomes involved in crime syndicates, murder and a relationship triangle — all in good soapy fun. However, “Jane” also takes on religion, feminism and illegal immigration. »

- Susan Young

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Warner Bros. Acquires Sound Facility Digital Cinema New York

23 hours ago

WB Sound, part of Warner Bros. Post Production Services, has acquired midtown Manhattan sound facility Digital Cinema New York.

As part of the acquisition, Warner Bros. has purchased the entire building at 426 West 55th St. to add capacity for servicing third-party clients.

Dcny creatives will stay on, with the exception of principals Bill Marino and Ken Hahn, who will remain at the helm of their other sound facility, Sync Sound. They remain on friendly terms with WB Sound and will collaborate as WB Sound’s needs as their availability allows.

Dcny’s projects will remain at the facility and be completed there under the WB Sound banner.

Oscar winner Skip Lievsay (“Gravity”) oversees WB Sound New York, which operated out of several locations in Manhattan starting in 2010. In May 2013, it consolidated its operations in sub-leased space on the second floor of Digital Cinema New York’s West 55th Street location. »

- David S. Cohen

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Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Hudson Join HBO’s ‘Confirmation’

29 May 2015 12:25 PM, PDT

HBO has lined up more notables for key roles in “Confirmation,” the telepic revisiting the drama of the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill showdown in 1991.

Greg Kinnear is set to play Joe Biden, who was a prominent voice in the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Thomas during his tenure as a senator from Delaware.

Jennifer Hudson and Jeffrey Wright have also signed on for supporting roles. Kerry Washington and Wendell Pierce topline the pic written by Susannah Grant and directed by Rick Famuyiwa. Production is scheduled to begin next month in Atlanta.

Michael London, Grant, Washington and Janice Williams are exec producing for Groundswell Prods. and ABC Signature Studios.

(Pictured: Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Hudson)


- Variety Staff

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NBCU, Comcast to Host First Code and Content Hackathon in London

29 May 2015 11:43 AM, PDT

NBCUniversal and Comcast are crossing the pond for their next “hackathon,” inviting developers in England to the companies’ first-ever media competition outside the U.S.

The NBCU/Comcast hackathon in the U.K. will be held at the Westminster Impact Hub in London June 6-7. Themed “The Future of Content Creation, Distribution and Monetisation in a Connected World,” the event is inviting participants to use hardware, software and content to develop prototypes that explore next-generation media experiences for NBCU International Distribution and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment International — occurring over a 24-hour period.

The team with the winning project stands to receive more than £10,000 in cash and prizes plus the opportunity to pitch their idea to NBCU Media Labs.

The event is the fourth in a series of Comcast/NBCU hackathons, following events in Orlando, Fla., and the inaugural hackathon last year in New York City. In addition to integrating projects into NBCU’s product pipeline, »

- Todd Spangler

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HBO Picks Up Duplass Brothers Animated Series ‘Animals’

29 May 2015 11:30 AM, PDT

HBO has given a two-season pickup to the animated series “Animals” produced by the Duplass Brothers.

The first two episodes screened this year at Sundance, generating buzz that led to the HBO pickup. HBO has acquired worldwide rights to the first batch of episodes produced and has ordered a second season. The half-hour series is targeted for a 2016 debut.

“Animals” was created by New York-based advertising creatives Phil Matarese and Mike Luciano as a series of animated shorts revolving around downtrodden creatures — pigeons, rats, bedbugs, etc. — living in New York City.

“Animals” is exec produced by Mark and Jay Duplass through the pair’s Duplass Brothers Television banner. The brothers are already in business with HBO on the domestic comedy “Togetherness,” which wrapped its first season in March and is set to return next year.

“Jay and I have been excited about bringing the principles of indie film to the TV space, »

- Cynthia Littleton

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TV Academy Expands Membership to Music Supervisors

29 May 2015 11:26 AM, PDT

In the latest move in its efforts to expand its membership, the Television Academy has now opened up the music peer group to include music supervisors.

“Extending membership to music supervisors is part of our ongoing mission to have the Academy fully engaged with the varied and diverse creative professionals contributing to today’s vibrant television landscape,” said TV Academy chairman Bruce Rosenblum.

Music supervisors must apply for membership at TelevisionAcademy.com/join by June 12 in order to be eligible to vote in both rounds of the 2015 Emmy Awards.

“Music supervisors have made, and continue to make, significant contributions to television storytelling,” said Michael Levine, senior governor of the music peer group. “We are delighted to be adding their voices to our membership.”

To be eligible for membership, music supervisors must have worked on a minimum of 30 episodes (or 15 hours program length), produced or distributed for national exhibition. They must »

- Debra Birnbaum

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‘Empire’ Season 2 Premiere Date Announced

29 May 2015 11:10 AM, PDT

Two months after “Empire” wrapped its rookie season, writers of the Fox drama on Friday announced via Twitter the date of the show’s return — Sept. 23.


The start date doesn’t qualify as a shocker, as the net announced its plans to bring back the ratings juggernaut in the fall and this is the first Wednesday of the television season. “Empire” is expected to air something of a split season during the 2015-16 campaign, with at least half of the show’s planned 18 episodes saved for 2016.

The soap became appointment viewing during the course of its 12-episode run and finished as the season’s No. 1 broadcast entertainment series in 18-49. It grew nearly every week in the demo and finished with the highest average for any broadcast drama since ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” and “Grey’s Anatomy” in 2007-08, and the highest for any new »

- Rick Kissell

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Upfront 2015: Kids’ TV Ad Market Has Started To Move

29 May 2015 10:42 AM, PDT

Madison Avenue is moving more quickly than anticipated to ensure pitches for electronic toys and holiday movies get put in front of the consumers most likely to be interested in them – kids and teens.

The so-called “kids’ upfront,” when TV networks try to sell approximately $800 million in TV advertising for programming aimed at children and pre-teens, has begun to move in more robust fashion than might have been anticipated this year, according to ad buying executives and other people familiar with the tone of negotiations.

“The kids’ upfront is healthier than many people had expected,” said Jeff Lucas, who oversees all ad sales for Viacom, owner of Nickelodeon, in a brief interview. He declined to comment on how much inventory had been sold or the terms around any sales. Time Warner’s Cartoon Network and Boomerang have moved “significant” inventory, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Buyers caution »

- Brian Steinberg

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‘Hannibal’ Premiere Preview: Dr. Lecter Gets a Taste of Europe

29 May 2015 10:34 AM, PDT

After more than a year’s absence from our screens, NBC’s “Hannibal” makes its long-anticipated return on June 4, and judging by the first three episodes previewed for critics, Bryan Fuller’s macabre drama is every bit as atmospheric, operatic and opulent in its third season.

Following season two’s finale bloodbath, Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) has escaped America with his former therapist Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson), and taken up residence in Europe, where our titular cannibal has wasted no time sampling the local cuisine. Freed from the pretense of his psychiatric practice and cat-and-mouse game with the FBI, season three’s Hannibal is an altogether different beast, unrestrained in his impulses — which is bad news for anyone he invites for dinner.

In Variety’s exclusive sneak peek from the season three premiere, “Antipasto,” we find Hannibal and Bedelia living a fairytale existence in Italy — but can the troubled »

- Laura Prudom

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Watch: Starz Teases ‘Evil Dead’ Sequel ‘Ash vs Evil Dead’

29 May 2015 10:06 AM, PDT

Ash is coming back. And, from the looks of it, things are going to get bloody pretty fast.

Starz has released a teaser for “Ash vs Evil Dead,” the TV series that serves as a follow-up to the horror film franchise starring Bruce Campbell.

Ash vs Evil Dead” will premiere this fall on Starz. Campbell will return to star in the 10-episode, half-hour series, which finds his aging chainsaw-handed monster hunter forced to face his demons — both personal and literal — when a Deadite plague threatens to destroy all of mankind.

The series is exec produced by Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert and Campbell, who were the original filmmakers of the franchise. Craig Digregorio who will serve as executive producer and showrunner. Raimi is directing the first episode, which he wrote with Ivan Raimi and Tom Spezialy.


- Whitney Friedlander

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Fox News Turns Greg Gutfeld Loose In Sunday-Night Experiment

29 May 2015 9:29 AM, PDT

Come Sunday, Greg Gutfeld will have the opportunity to do something very different at Fox News Channel. He will launch a program that depends as much on humor as it does the headlines.

Gutfeld, who has one of the more eclectic resumes in the business, could blaze new paths at the 21st Century Fox-owned outlet, but he’s not getting ahead of himself. His “Greg Gutfeld Show,” billed as a “comedic news hour,” is something that is not the norm at Fox News or any other cable-news outlet.

“I have a very low bar,” he says during a recent interview. “I don’t want to throw up.” Viewers will get to see if he accomplishes that feat this Sunday at 10 p.m.

Fox News Channel is often the subject of critique by hosts of satirical programs like “The Daily Show.” Now, the network will debut a program that could contain parodies and humorous monologues, »

- Brian Steinberg

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Ratings: NBC’s ‘Aquarius’ Has Modest Bow; Fox’s ‘Wayward Pines’ Steady

29 May 2015 9:10 AM, PDT

On an unexceptional night for the broadcast networks, NBC drama “Aquarius” opened modestly Thursday while ABC’s “100 Questions” ended its run in line with previous nights. Fox had the night’s top scripted originals in young adults with “Bones” and “Wayward Pines.”

According to preliminary national estimates from Nielsen, Charles Manson-era drama “Aquarius” averaged a 1.0 rating/4 share in adults 18-49 and 5.7 million viewers from 9 to 11 p.m., retaining most of its lead-in from “Dateline” at 8 (1.2/5 in 18-49, 6.4 million viewers overall). Compared with last year’s scripted summer launches for NBC, “Aquarius” was on par in 18-49 with the bows of dramas “Crossbones” and “Taxi Brooklyn” and below medical drama “The Night Shift” (1.6, behind “America’s Got Talent”) and comedy “Undateable” (1.3).

Viewers tuned in at 9, where the show peaked with a 1.3 demo rating and 6.6 million viewers overall, but the numbers drifted downward from there; in the 10:30 p.m. half-hour, »

- Rick Kissell

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TV Review: ‘The Whispers’

29 May 2015 8:30 AM, PDT

Although “The Whispers” was developed by writer Soo Hugh, ABC is eager to cite Steven Spielberg’s involvement, and no wonder: This summer series is a veritable mashup of the director’s filmography — a pinch of “E.T.” here, a dollop of the Spielberg-produced “Poltergeist” there, and a soupcon of what might be called “Invisible Encounters of the Kid Kind.” None of that takes away from the modest enjoyableness of the show, which drips clues over the first three episodes, as kids interact with an “imaginary friend” only they can see. Less imagination is required to see “The Whispers” hooking enough viewers to make some noise.

The program opens on a creepy note, with a 6-year-old girl luring her mom up to a tree house, where the woman experiences a harrowing fall. The case catches the attention of an FBI agent, Claire Bennigan (Lily Rabe), who specializes in children, and begins »

- Brian Lowry

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‘Golan the Insatiable’ Readies for Fox’s Primetime

29 May 2015 8:19 AM, PDT

After making a go at latenight viewing as a segment in Fox’s Adhd programing block, “Golan the Insatiable” is gearing up for its spot on the network’s primetime lineup.

Starting Sunday, the TV series will expand from 15 minutes to a half hour and appear in the same weekly lineup as Fox staples “Family Guy” and “The Simpsons.”

Dave Jeser and Matt Silverstein, who developed “Golan” for TV along with Joshua Miller (author of the online novel that inspired the Adhd series), say that this was something that was always on the horizon.

“It was always part of the plan for one of these 15-minute shows to kind of grow and be a big boy show,” said Jeser. “It is also a family show and it felt like a great fit for animation night on Fox.”

Not that the added word count is a problem.

“It is easier to »

- Mannie Holmes

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