Brian LowryLOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - The disproportionate attention showered on the Sunday discussion shows has made remodeling "Meet the Press" seem like a momentous occasion. NBC News didn't want to leave much to chance with Chuck Todd's debut as host, enlisting President Obama as his co-star -- and surrounding him with other NBC talent, in what felt like an "It takes a village" approach. Yet the nature of these shows is such that facial hair notwithstanding, the new "Press" still feels a lot like the old "Press."
"As you can see, we're making a few changes around here," Todd -- a solid interviewer, if by no means a TV natural -- said by way of introduction, while treating his own arrival at the helm of the long-running franchise as a historic event.
Todd has earned a reputation as a D.C. insider and policy wonk, although that doesn't address one of the fundamental problems plaguing these programs -- namely, that in such hyper-partisan political times, the attempt to appear even-handed (perhaps especially for NBC, given MSNBC's left-leaning profile) is merely an invitation for the usual suspects to pounce on any perceived exhibition of bias.
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - Given its initial premise and appalling body count, the fact "Sons of Anarchy" has credibly reached a seventh and final season is in itself an accomplishment. Yet this fall's driving theme -- unrelenting revenge and retribution -- practically ensures a series already characterized by over-the-top violence will be even more steeped in creatively conceived gore. Few programs seem more closely linked to the id of their brain trust than this one, and showrunner Kurt Sutter has set the stage for an operatic finish. That said, watching "Sons" ride toward the sunset -- taking its excesses with it -- evokes as much relief as regret.
Without giving too much away (and SPOILER ALERT only to those not fully up to date on last season's events), the SAMCRO motorcycle club, under the stewardship of Jax (Charlie Hunnam), is grappling with some beyond-usual family issues. Sure, Jax killed his stepfather, assumed control and tried to take the club in a more legitimate directsm as opposed to depicting violence because it's organic to the story. And while the show has contemplated the side effects of SAMCRO's criminal enterprises -- including the sobering incorporation of a school shooting with one of the guns it distributes -- more often those caught in the crossfire are dispensed with little second thought.
Throughout, "Sons of Anarchy" -- much like "The Shield," one of the stops where Sutter cut his creative teeth -- has exhibited a genuine and singular artistic vision, and the way the episodes spill out into ungainly lengths (the premiere runs 75 minutes, sans commercials) is both a testament to FX's willingness to indulge talent and a window into the creative process.
For the third consecutive year, Colombian actress Sofia Vergara, one of the stars of the hit ABC comedy "Modern Family," is the highest paid actress on U.S. television, with estimated earnings of $37 million, Forbes magazine said on Wednesday.
Like last year, Vergara, who earns $325,000 for each episode of "Modern Family," outpaced Mariska Hargitay, the Emmy-winning star of NBC's "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit," who came in second with $13 million. Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, 28, of CBS's "The Big Bang Theory," came in third, with $11 million.
"At 42, the 'Modern Family' star continues her streak in large part due to her business savvy," said Forbes.
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - "The Wire" fans can start saying their favorite expletives: Creator David Simon's beloved drama about the gangs, police and other factions that make Baltimore tick is getting a facelift before a marathon viewing.
HBO has confirmed that is in the process of re-mastering the series that ran from 2002 to 2008 and starred Dominic West, Wendell Pierce, Idris Elba, Michael K. Williams and others. HBO had planned a September launch for the marathon, but the episodes are still in review. However, the cat got out of the bag in August when a viewer noticed a promo ad with the wrong premiere date for the marathon. The marathon's start date is still to be determined.
Binge-watching marathons of favorite programs are increasingly becoming popular promotional tools for networks. FXX is currently seeing ratings success with its non-stop Every.Simpsons.Ever. marathon. TVGN is trying a similar, but less intense, strategy by airing episodes of the original "Beverly Hills, 90210."
Molly Eichel, Daily News Staff Writer
NBC10 meteorologist Tedd Florendo is returning to Las Vegas after joining the station in September of last year He will report back to the CBS affliate from whence he came, according to TV Spy. Waiting on statement from NBC10 and Florendo about the depature.
Florendo is one of the many departures as of late. Bob Kelly left CBS3 last week, along with Elizabeth Hur. Kacie McDonnell left Fox 29 earlier the month to be with her boyfriend, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Aaron Murray.
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - Piers Morgan, the CNN primetime host whose efforts to provide the network with a new type of celebrity-interview show met with ratings headwinds, has officially left the cable news channel after declining a new two-year deal that would have made him the host of a sporadic interview series.
"I was offered a new 2-year deal by CNN boss Jeff Zucker to host 40 big interview 'specials,'" Morgan said via Twitter. "But after considerable thought, I decided not to accept it - and to try pastures new."
Morgan began anchoring the network's 9 p.m. slot starting in January of 2011, replacing the durable "Larry King Live" with a celebrity-interview show that did not always hit the target with CNN viewers. The program, in which Morgan could be seen breaking away from conversations with perplexed guests like Gregg Allman to ask if they had inadvertently given him a scoop in their responses, proved to be fodder for satire on "Saturday Night Live." Morgan also used the program to rally against the National Rifle Association.
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - "Downton Abbey" is heating up, according to the first trailer for the drama's upcoming season five.
It teases some new mysteries, shows Jimmy Kent getting caught in bed with a mystery woman, dinner table arguments and even an actual fire that adds in some action. Lady Mary Crawley also seems to get a new love interest in the clip.
Additionally, the trailer gives a look at newcomer Richard E. Grant, who appeared in the most recent season of "Girls," as Simon Bricker.
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - So it turns out "The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story" is really just Lifetime for "Sharknado." The network opted not to screen the movie in advance, presumably assuming the nostalgia/live-tweeting factor would only be undermined by the realization this wasn't so much a movie as a music montage interrupted by reenactments from a mediocre but improbably long-running '90s Saturday-morning show. Told primarily from the perspective of Dustin Diamond (who doubles as a producer), the project explores the age-old insecurities of young actors and challenges of sudden stardom, but in such a tedious, empty way the bell couldn't come soon enough.
Diamond's memoir about the show (which he later disavowed) was said to have provided only partial inspiration for this account, but since Diamond (as played by Sam Kindseth) narrates the movie, periodically breaks the fourth wall to address the camera and generally guides us through this not-so-magical history tour, that sounds like a distinction without a difference.
As related by Diamond, who played nerd supreme Screech, the movie follows the birth of a show (out of the ashes of a jettisoned Disney Channel series), casting of the principals and near-cancellation before the program caught on. Even in success, however, Diamond clearly feels under-appreciated, grousing that during a promotional tour the others were shipped to glamorous cities while he was dispatched to a rec center in South Carolina, where he promptly got drunk and embarrassed the producers.