Sofiya Ballin & Molly Eichel
On the epic finale of Empire, record mogul Lucious Lyon announced that performers — including Patti LaBelle, Rita Ora, and Snoop Dogg — would donate a percentage of their fees from a benefit concert to Black Lives Matter.
It was another example of how — in the shadow of the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police officers, particularly in Ferguson, Mo., and Staten Island, N.Y. — current events have seeped into prime time.
Television shows often exist in a world in which current events rarely have an effect on the plots. The last three years of Friends’ 10-year run took place in a post-9/11 Manhattan, although you wouldn’t know it from watching the show.
Andrew WallensteinLOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - Put down that remote control, binge watchers, and get some fresh air.
A new study conducted by the University of Texas at Austin discovered that viewers who gorge on multiple TV episodes in one sitting may be doing so to cope with feelings of depression and loneliness.
"Even though some people argue that binge-watching is a harmless addiction, findings from our study suggest that binge-watching should no longer be viewed this way," said Yoon Hi Sung, author of the study.
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Comedian David Letterman's CBS "Late Show" reportedly has invited his former late-night television arch rival Jay Leno to appear as a guest on the program before Letterman retires from TV in May.
The offer was extended last year, according to a report published on Wednesday by tvinsider.com, which cited unnamed sources.
A guest appearance on Letterman's show by Leno, who stepped down last year as host of NBC's "The Tonight Show," could potentially be a ratings coup for CBS as it looks to capitalize on hoopla surrounding Letterman's May 20 send-off.
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - Netflix has released the first trailer for its upcoming revival of "Wet Hot American Summer," confirming a number of original cast members are back for another stay at Camp Firewood.
Elizabeth Banks, Michael Ian Black, Bradley Cooper, Judah Friedlander, Janeane Garofalo, Joe Lo Truglio, Ken Marino, Christopher Meloni, Marguerite Moreau, Zak Orth, Amy Poehler, David Hyde Pierce, Paul Rudd, Molly Shannon and Michael Showalter are all on board for "Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp," according to the trailer.
Though Meloni's name pops up as a cast member, there's no mention in the video of H. Jon Benjamin as scariest can of vegetables in summer camp history.
Debra Kamin, Variety.com
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - According to reports in both Israeli and international media this week, the Islamic State has a 24-hour television channel in the works.
The station, which if launched will take ISIS' well-polished propaganda machine to an entirely new level, will feature round-the-clock news and commentary that supports its jihadist
The terror organization has waged a shockingly bloody campaign in recent months to seize large swaths of Iraq and Syria, and has utilized both Twitter and YouTube, as well as Iraqi radio bandwith, to spread its message and galvanize support among terrorist sympathizers. It has its own English-language magazine, Daqib, as well as a video series, on both YouTube and other content-sharing sites, dubbed "The Flames of War."
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - As "Parks and Recreation" begins its farewell season on NBC, it's not just the fans who have to come to terms with the show's end. It's also the cast.
Leave it to Jerry to sum it up best: "I think most of us have always been very very appreciative of this job, but even more so than ever now," says Jim O'Heir.
With the show coming to a close, Variety asked the stars of "Parks and Recreation's" final season what they'll miss most about their characters.
Brian Steinberg, Variety.com
Bill Maher returned to HBO’s schedule this week after what was supposed to be a peaceful holiday break. Instead, he launched a new season of his edgy talk show “Real Time” during a week in which two of the issues he holds close to his heart — religious extremism and free speech — took over the global stage.
Maher railed against the terrorists who this week killed staffers at Paris satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo whom he called “my heroes.” And he welcomed a guest to his panel who has direct knowledge of what it’s like to be persecuted for writing something that a certain group finds offensive: author Salman Rushdie, whose 1988 novel “The Satanic Verses” prompted Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeni of Iran to issue a fatwa calling for the author’s assassination.
“Who’s ready for a little free speech in America?” Maher asked as the show opened. “There are people in the world who don’t like you joking about them.”
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - TLC is facing growing criticism over the decision to air "My Husband's Not Gay," a one-hour special slated to air on Jan. 11, which follows a group of Mormon men who, according to the network's description, "are happily married and attracted to their wives, but they are also attracted to other men. They refer to it as Same Sex Attraction... not gay, SSA."
A Change.org petition protesting the special has amassed over 71,000 signatures urging TLC to cancel the broadcast. Josh Sanders, a gay Christian man, began the petition because he believes the show "promotes the false and dangerous idea that gay people can and should choose to be straight in order to be part of their faith communities... The men featured in this show deserve to be shown compassion and acceptance. Perhaps even more importantly, TV viewers need to know the horrific consequences of trying to change who you are. Instead, TLC is presenting victims' lives as entertainment, while sending the message that being gay is something that can and ought to be changed, or that you should reject your sexual orientation by marrying someone of the opposite sex. This message is harmful to both LGBT people and communities of faith, and I call upon TLC to stop spreading such dangerous misinformation by cancelling 'My Husband's Not Gay' immediately."
GLAAD has also condemned the special. "This show is downright irresponsible," said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis in a statement. "No one can change who they love, and, more importantly, no one should have to. By investing in this dangerous programming, TLC is putting countless young LGBT people in harm's way."