• Small Town, Big Mystery: 'Wayward Pines' Is Top-Notch Miniseries
    A new miniseries premiering tomorrow night on Fox raises a question that comes up often when one contemplates the mysteries of the TV biz. In the case of this 10-part suspense miniseries -- titled "Wayward Pines" and directed and produced by M. Night Shyamalan -- the question is this: Why on Earth is this miniseries being scheduled at the very tail end of the "official" network TV season? Whatever the reasons behind the scheduling of "Wayward Pines," this is one impressive miniseries.
  • HBO Movie About Singer Bessie Smith Is Off-Key
    Unless I missed it somehow, the one recording for which blues singer Bessie Smith is most famous is not included in the HBO movie called "Bessie" about the singer's life. The song was "St. Louis Blues," and Smith's 1925 recording, featuring Louis Armstrong on cornet, is widely viewed as a seminal moment in the history of 20th-century popular music -- in this case, the moment when a recording by an African-American woman singing a song drawn from the black-American experience crossed over to become a hit among white audiences.
  • How's Dave Doing? We Asked His Friend, Tom Dreesen
    Only eight shows remain for David Letterman until he leaves late-night TV after an extraordinary run of 33 years. How's he feeling about the approach of his final show May 20? I asked comedian Tom Dreesen, Dave's close friend of more than 40 years, and one of the nation's top stand-up comedians.
  • Why Doing Away With Upfronts Would Be A PR Disaster
    If you can be guaranteed of anything in this ever-changing media world, it's that the upfront presentations being held next week in New York by the Big Four broadcast networks will be packed with throngs blocking sidewalks outside Radio City Music Hall (NBC on Monday morning), the Beacon Theater (Fox on Monday afternoon), Avery Fisher Hall (ABC on Tuesday afternoon) and Carnegie Hall (CBS on Wednesday afternoon).
  • What The F---? 'Porn' Emerging As Hot New Word In TV Titles
    The word "porn" is about to become much more prevalent in TV show titles. Two shows with "Porn" in their titles were announced at upfront presentations in the last few weeks: "Isabella Rosselini's Green Porno Live!" -- announced by the Ovation channel April 23 -- and "Food Porn" -- coming soon to FYI, the cable channel owned by A&E Networks that replaced the Biography channel -- announced last week at the A&E upfront. I've seen this before. A few shows begin turning up that have a word in common, and before you know it, there's an avalanche of them.
  • Trans-Parent: Kardashians Want A Piece Of Jenner's Transgender Story
    The savvy Kardashian clan has finally figured out a way to capitalize on dad Bruce Jenner's transgender story -- by producing their own two-part special. Jenner's interview with Diane Sawyer April 24 drew an audience of about 17 million people to become one of the highest-rated TV shows of the year -- an audience so big even the Kardashians were impressed. However, there was one problem for the Kardashians: It aired on ABC, not on E!, where they could have benefited from it. So now, they've come up with two hours about Bruce that they can call their own.
  • Big Question For NBC's 'Manson' Plan: Is It Good Enough To Binge-Watch?
    NBC's plan to make its upcoming Charles Manson miniseries available for streaming right after the premiere is drawing a variety of opinions. One commentator says the plan is disadvantageous to NBC's affiliates because 11 additional hours of this 13-hour series will be available for viewing on multiple streaming platforms long before they air on the network's owned and affiliated stations. On the opposite side of the issue is the idea that NBC's plan, with which it hopes to encourage binge-watching of the miniseries, is no big deal. Is this miniseries worth binge-watching in the first place?
  • 'Traditional' Upfront Season Gives Way To Anything-Goes 'Content' Bazaar
    When the upfront presentations finally conclude on May 14, they will have been going on for 13 weeks. They have taken many forms, ranging from big multimedia presentations staged in cavernous auditoriums to much-smaller presentations staged in intimate hotel party spaces or restaurants for small groups. This week, the schedule lists events from the likes of TheStreet.com, Endemol Beyond and DailyMeal.com. The "NewFront" term has been evidently coined to differentiate these online content companies from traditional television, although they all sell a somewhat similar package -- or at the very least, they all sound similar.
  • From 'Mad Men' To 'Happyish,' TV Portrays The Evolution Of Advertising
    Would Don Draper recognize the advertising business in the era of Thom Payne? Thom Payne is the lead character in Showtime's new series about the modern-day ad biz, "Happyish." In their respective shows, both of these admen are in the midst of navigating upheavals in their workplaces. On "Mad Men," the Sterling Cooper agency is being absorbed by McCann Erickson. Thom Payne and his colleagues at the fictional New York agency of McMann Goldsmith & Tate are also facing a situation involving corporate overseers coming into their offices with the goal of changing the way the firm does its business. ...
  • NBC's Brian Williams Mess Gets Even Messier
    Earlier this month, Brian Williams' return was thrown into doubt as the story flared back into the limelight with the apparent completion of an internal investigation at NBC into Williams' storytelling. NBC didn't comment on the findings, but suddenly the revelations were being reported in "prestige" media such as "The New York Times" and "The Washington Post." The gist of both stories was that the audit had found even more instances in which Williams embellished stories about his journalistic derring-do. In light of these new examples, the odds suddenly seemed longer that Williams would ever return to his job.
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