LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - George Stephanopoulos' interview with Darren Wilson - the police officer who killed African-American teenager Michael Brown - tells us a lot more about ABC News than it does about what actually happened that day in Ferguson, Mo.
Wilson's account of events was hardly unexpected. He sounded like someone who had been well coached by attorneys, both in regard to potential criminal charges and a possible wrongful-death civil lawsuit. Stephanopoulos mischaracterized his demeanor as "very clinical," when the better description would be "very lawyered up," which is strictly an observation, not a criticism.
ABC, by contrast, approached its coup of landing the first sit-down chat with Wilson in an unorthodox way, or at least one that says a great deal about the network's priorities, which have been crystal clear since Stephanopoulos - as host of "Good Morning America" - was designated the principal breaking-news and big-event anchor, putting him a rung above "World News'" David Muir within the ABC News hierarchy.
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - The prognosis is mixed for Fox's quirky dramedy "Red Band Society."
The ABC Studios/Amblin TV series about a group of hospitalized teenagers facing serious illnesses will wrap production on its first season next month after completing 13 episodes.
"Red Band" will air tonight and next week in its Wednesday 9 p.m. time slot, taking the show through episode 10. The remaining three segs will be scheduled later. Such a move is never a good sign for a series, but Fox emphasizes that the show remains a contender for season two.
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - ABC's George Stephanopoulos secured an interview with Officer Darren Wilson, the police officer who was at the center of the spiraling controversy in Ferguson, Missouri, the anchor said in a post on Twitter.
Just finished a more than hourlong interview with Officer Darren Wilson. No question off limits. pic.twitter.com/BrD4e39ABg— GeorgeStephanopoulos (@GStephanopoulos) November 25, 2014
In doing so, the ABC News Chief Anchor may have won a TV-news scrum of sorts. Several other outlets have vied for an interview with the police officer who a grand jury last night declined to indict in the shooting of an unarmed African-American teenager.
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - NBC News said Brian Williams would anchor the unit's signature evening newscast live from Ferguson, Missouri, while CNN said it would stay live throughout primetime rather than running its usual Tuesday documentary, two signals that events surrounding the recent grand jury verdict in the death of teenager Michael Brown continues to absorb the national focus.
The grand jury chose not to indict the white police officer who shot and killed Brown, who was unarmed. Since that decision was revealed, protesters have vandalized buildings and set fires, and various news reports detailed dozens of arrests.
NBC News said correspondents Ron Allen and Miguel Almaguer were also present in Ferguson covering the events of last night as well news of the day. CNN said it had 11 correspondents in the area, including some of its best known: Anderson Cooper, Chris Cuomo, Don Lemon, and Jake Tapper. Other CNN staffers in Ferguson include Ana Cabrera, Jason Carroll, Stephanie Elam, Sunny Hostin, Ed Lavandera, Evan Perez and Sara Sidner.
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - Gullible media types have billed "Marco Polo" as Netflix's possible answer to "Game of Thrones." The more logical comparisons would be a thematic one to "Shogun" -- that splendid miniseries of yesteryear, about a European traveler navigating strange-to-his-eyes Asian culture -- and a qualitative tilt toward History's "Vikings," albeit with far more nudity, as well as clunkier dialogue. Handsome to look at, reasonably entertaining and questionable as history, the series luxuriates in a period setting that provides license for all the usual barbaric diversions. Still, having viewed the first six of 10 episodes, if somebody yells, "Marco!" nobody should feel compelled to answer right away.
Instead of a slavish devotion to the adventures of Marco Polo (newcomer Lorenzo Richelmy) -- the young Italian who spent time in the court of Mongol leader Kublai Khan (Benedict Wong) in the 13th century, and gave rise to a game played by children in swimming pools -- series creator John Fusco ("The Forbidden Kingdom") has used the exotic backdrop as an invitation to dabble in B-movie cliches. These range from the blind master Hundred Eyes (Tom Wu) who dispenses "Kung Fu"-like wisdom while teaching Marco the martial arts, to the beautiful and forbidden princess (Zhu Zhu) who immediately catches the visitor's eye.
Brought to China by his father, whom he barely knows, Marco is essentially left with the Mongol leader as an offering to secure Dad's access to lucrative trading routes. Yet his insights spur Khan's curiosity, and he is quickly drawn into the machinations and power struggles surrounding the court, teeming with threats in the form of spies and even family, as well as a concubine (Olivia Cheng) who's no slouch in the carnage department, either.
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - "CSI" fans should get ready to say goodbye to Nick Stokes.
George Eads, who played the forensic investigator since "CSI's" pilot, will leave the show after its current 15th season, sources have confirmed to Variety.
Eads was one of the last remaining original cast members on "CSI." Last year, the drama lost Paul Guilfoyle, who was also with the show since the beginning. If "CSI" gets renewed for a 16th season, which has not been announced yet, Jorja Fox will be left as the only remaining original cast member.
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - CNN reporter Sara Sidner was pelted in the head with a rock as she reported live from the streets of Ferguson, Missouri on Monday night.
Sidner was standing across the street from a local business that had recently caught on fire when an anonymous person hit the CNN reporter in the head as she spoke remotely to anchor Jake Tapper.
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - The long day of build-up to the grand jury verdict in Ferguson, Mo., and its aftermath brought out the worst in cable news, from partisan scorekeeping to chaotic images with very little context.
Ferguson -- and the decision not to indict officer Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown -- hardly marks the first instance of a high-profile and tragic killing of an African-American youth, following the Florida shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. But it continues a trend of Fox News Channel and MSNBC immediately retreating to their ideological corners, while CNN - despite seeking to remain even-handed - again fell into its more lamentable habits, filling time for hours with a "Breaking News" headline that became increasingly absurd the longer the channel went without any additional news.
What again emerged was cable's near-addiction to conflict, which the unrest and looting that followed the announcement yielded in abundance. And while one can admire the long hours and bravery exhibited by on-the-scene reporters under trying circumstances, the nature of this sort of coverage yields such a narrow aperture their hard work produces heat, perhaps, but scant illumination.