Barbara Billingsley Dies at 94

Television

h/t Mark Tully:

The New York Times

The actress Barbara Billingsley passed away on Saturday at the age of 94. Known best for her role as June Cleaver, the mother in the classic 1950s and 1960s sitcom Leave It to Beaver, Billingsley personified for millions the perfect postwar suburban mother. She never quite escaped from the role, going on to voice the nanny in Muppet Babies and play June Cleaver again in The New Leave It to Beaver, a sequel to the original sitcom that aired in the ‘80s.

According to a family spokeswoman,  Billingsley died of a rheumatoid disease at her home in Santa Monica, California. Billingsley married three times and is survived by two sons.

National Broadcasting Company Soon To Be Owned By Cable

Media, NBC, Television, Vivendi

NEW YORK TIMES DEALBOOK BLOG (Sorkin)

Carter / Merced Reporting

November 30, 2009, 8:17 pm <!– — Updated: 8:33 pm –>

G.E. and Vivendi Agree on Value of NBC Universal

Update | 8:28 p.m. General Electric has reached a tentative agreement to buy Vivendi’s 20 percent stake in NBC Universal for about $5.8 billion, helping clear the path to a sale of the television and movie company to Comcast, people briefed on the matter told DealBook.

But much remains to be negotiated, these people warned. The Vivendi agreement values NBC Universal at $29 billion, less than the $30 billion or so that G.E. and Comcast had agreed to last month.

Harmonizing the two values, as in so much of the talks over NBC Universal, may take days to do, and these people cautioned that a deal may not be reached.

Still, many analysts and people close to the talks expect a deal to be forged soon, and with it a reshaping of the entertainment industry.

The groundwork for the tentative pact between G.E. and Vivendi was laid out last week, when G.E.’s chief executive, Jeffrey Immelt, met in person with his counterpart at Vivendi, Jean-Bernard Lévy, in Paris, these people said.

If it holds, the agreement would conclude weeks of hardball negotiations between G.E. and Vivendi over an alliance first forged in 2004. Resolving the issue of Vivendi’s stake is crucial to completing the G.E.-Comcast deal. But the French company took a tough stance, brandishing its option of holding an initial public offering for its stake rather than selling it back to G.E.

Under the current outlines of the agreement between G.E. and Comcast, NBC Universal would be put into a new joint venture, between the two giants. Comcast would pour billions of dollars in cash and its own cable channels for a 51 percent stake, while G.E. would hold an initial 49 percent and contribute about $12 billion in debt.

G.E., which has owned NBC for more than two decades, is expected to eventually sell its ownership interest to Comcast over the next several years.

Michael J. de la Merced and Bill Carter

NBC Sticks to the Script for Six New Prime-Time Series

NBC, Prime Time, S.A.G., Scripted Television, Television, Universal

The Brilliant  Lisa de Moraes…..

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THE WASHINGTON POST
Tuesday, May 5, 2009

NEW YORK

“Chuck” obsessives will have to chow down on Subway foot-longs for at least another week, but fans of the flick “Parenthood” can stop donating disposable diapers to Octomom, or whatever grass-roots campaign it is they’ve hatched to persuade NBC suits to adapt it into a prime-time series starring Peter Krause, Maura Tierney and Craig T. Nelson. It’s a done deal.

“Parenthood,” from Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment, is one of six new scripted series the network unveiled to advertisers Monday at NBC’s 30 Rock HQ.

The list of lucky new series includes two medical dramas — you’re going to hear about a lot of new doc dramas in the next few weeks as all the broadcasters look for the next “ER.” “Trauma” is about a first-response team of paramedics in San Francisco, where helicopters plunge from the sky and cars turn into flying fireballs. The other, “Mercy,” is about a nurse, just back from a tour of duty in Iraq, who is married to a nice guy and in love with a hot doctor at her hospital.

Two comedies made the cut: “100 Questions” is about a bunch of 20-something BFFs — think “Friends,” if Rachel were using an online dating site because she’s so gorgeous she’s having trouble finding guys.

The other comedy, “Community,” is about a study group that perfectly reflects the student body at a community college — community colleges, NBC notes, being a gathering ground for losers, newly divorced housewives and old people trying to keep their minds active as they circle the drain of eternity. The old-person role has gone to Chevy Chase, while Joel McHale of “The Soup” is our hero/loser — a lawyer stripped of his law degree because he lied about graduating from college.

Rounding out the list of new NBC shows: drama series “Day One,” about a global event in which millions of mysterious thingummies from outer space rocket into Earth and pretty much nuke everything — except, that is, an apartment building in Van Nuys, Calif. Residents of this building are now trying to rebuild society — so how lucky is it they’re all young and hot? “Day One” is a midseason order.

NBC also announced it would return Amy Poehler’s not-“The Office”-spinoff “Parks and Recreation” and John Wells’s new cop drama, “Southland,” both of which debuted recently.

Among returning NBC series, “Heroes” made the cut, and NBC has ordered at least six more episodes of those “Saturday Night Live” “Weekend Update” half-hours it ran in prime time last fall — but then that was during a presidential election when interest is always high in “SNL”; this year, of course, it’s not.

NBC Entertainment/Universal Media Studios co-chair Ben Silverman anticipated just that issue Monday afternoon, when he and his NBC Universal colleagues gave a repeat performance of their morning presentation to advertisers, to The Reporters Who Cover Television.

“Can you imagine Joe Biden and swine flu this week?” Silverman said of the prime-time faux news show’s possibilities.

Poehler helped NBC suits unveil their new series pickups to the press: She came out wearing a mask over her nose and mouth because, she said, she is “afraid of monkey sniffles,” she told Silverman onstage. This did not play well with reporters; possibly they thought she was calling them a bunch of monkeys.

Silverman also trotted out Donald Trump so he could ask The Donald why his “Celebrity Apprentice” has been such a groundbreaking show.

“Last night was Chicken of the Sea night. We had a two-hour show about Chicken of the Sea,” Trump reported, adding that the chief of Chicken of the Sea had called him Monday to thank him personally.

“This stuff kills with the advertisers!” Silverman said of the celebrity appearances as The Donald stepped offstage. “It’s like I want to do the moonwalk.”

He did the moonwalk.

This world is a better place because Ben Silverman delivers NBC’s pickups presentation.

Long before Monday’s announcement, NBC had committed to picking up Trump’s show next season. Also returning to NBC are comedies “The Office” and “30 Rock,” but the outlook for “My Name Is Earl” is not bright now that NBC has opted to bring back those “SNL” prime-time half-hours in the fall.

NBC also had already announced it was bringing back “Friday Night Lights,” “Heroes,” “Dateline, “The Biggest Loser” and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” though the network still has no deal to bring back its stars, Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni, who reportedly are holding out for an equity stake in the show. “The show is coming back with or without them,” Silverman’s counterpart, NBCE/UMS co-chair Marc Graboff told the press, adding that NBC has an offer on the table to the two thespians and hopes they accept it. Brrrrr!

Not announced are the fates of “Chuck,” “Kath & Kim,” “Medium,” “Life” and “Law & Order: The Mother Ship.”

The word from the stage yesterday, in response to reporters’ questions about the shows’ chances of returning next season: maybe, no one thought to ask, probably, not a chance and most likely.

NBC suits also waxed rhapsodic about Jay Leno’s move to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday.

“He’s one of the most advertiser-friendly people I know,” said NBC Universal sales and marketing president Mike Pilot, adding that this “doesn’t damage the integrity of the show.”

Monday’s announcements were not comprehensive. Silverman said the rest of the series pickups and the network’s actual prime-time schedule will be unveiled the week of May 8 during the traditional Broadcast Upfront Week, when the rest of the broadcast networks will trot out their new lineups. However, figuring out the basics of NBC’s sked isn’t rocket science, now that the 10 p.m. hour is otherwise occupied by Leno.

During Monday’s clambake, Silverman confirmed what the network’s schedule will probably look like. Monday: “Heroes” and another drama night. Tuesday: “The Biggest Loser” night. Wednesday: “Law & Order” franchise night. Thursday: Four-comedy night. Friday: Lower-expectation original programming night. Saturday: Rerun Theater. Sunday: Football.

Canceled: Life on Mars Is Dead

ABC, Lower East Side, Manhattan, Television

Seattle Post-Intelligencer


jason-omara-life-on-mars-photo

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

By MICKEY O’CONNOR
TV GUIDE

ABC has canceled Life on Mars, but will allow the cop drama to complete its full one-season run. The network has opted not to extend the series beyond 17 episodes, according to Variety.

It’s not all bad news, though. Rather than wait until May when on-the-bubble shows are typically told whether or not they’ll be renewed or canceled, ABC told the producers now, so that they can plan for a proper series finale — a courtesy not extended to the recently unplugged ABC shows Pushing Daisies, Dirty Sexy Money and Eli Stone. “We felt it was the right thing to do for the producers and the fans and creatively,” ABC Entertainment Group President Steve McPherson told TelevisionWeek. Calls to ABC were not yet returned.

This is particularly important for Mars, as its mysterious premise — an NYPD cop is hit by a car and spontaneously time-travels back to 1973 — requires some explaining. Is Sam Tyler (Jason O’Mara) in a coma, at the mercy of supernatural forces or something else entirely?

For now, it seems, the fans will get that answer.

Did Life on Mars deserve the ax? Is ABC getting an itchy trigger finger on the cancellation front? And how would you like to see the series end?

Congresswoman Wants To Bring Fairness Doctrine To Cable; Hannity/Hume Spontaneously Combust

Brit Hume, Cable, Chris Wallace, Douchebags, Fairness Doctrine, FOX News, Media, Politics, Radio, Roger Ailes, Rupert Murdoch, Sean Hannity, Television

San Francisco Peninsula Press Club

eshoo

Congresswoman Anna Eshoo,  D-Palo Alto, said Monday she will work to restore the Fairness Doctrine and have it apply to cable and satellite programming as well as radio and TV.

“I’ll work on bringing it back. I still believe in it,” Eshoo told the Daily Post in Palo Alto.

The Fairness Doctrine required TV and radio stations to balance opposing points of view. It meant that those who disagreed with the political slant of a commentator were entitled to free air time to give contrasting points of view, usually in the same time slot as the original broadcast.

The doctrine was repealed by the Reagan administration’s Federal Communications Commission in 1987, and a year later, Rush Limbaugh’s show went national, ushering in a new form of AM radio.

Conservative talk show hosts fear the doctrine will result in their programs being canceled because stations don’t want to offer large amounts of air time to opponents whose response programs probably wouldn’t get good ratings.

Eshoo said she would recommend the doctrine be applied not only to radio and TV broadcasts, but also to cable and satellite services.

“It should and will affect everyone,” she said.

She called the present system “unfair,” and said “there should be equal time for the spoken word.” (Photo credit: Ian Port, Daily Post)