- ABC’s “Glass House” is still under fire from CBS, which tomorrow will seek a temporary restraining order to stop the series, reports Deadline Hollywood. Judge Gary Feess today set a hearing for early Friday for the networks’ lawyers to plead their cases. The judge may rule to stop production of “Glass House,” which CBS argues is a rip-off of its “Big Brother,” itself based on a UK series which was based on a Dutch series.
- The “Dallas” reboot averaged 6.8 million viewers on Wednesday, making it the No. 1 scripted series premiere on all of cable so far this year, reports Entertainment Weekly. The show that stars senior citizens Larry Hagman, Linda Gray, opposite newcomers Jesse Metcalfe and Jordana Brewster, attracted 1.9 milion adults 18-49 and 2.4 million adults 25-54. EW Reviewer Ken Tucker enjoyed the “genially hokey set-up” of a doddering J.R. leaving the nursing home to enjoy the prospect of destroying his own family in the name of sport and money.
- “And we’re done” with broadcast upfront sales, declared Deadline Hollywood. Fox and NBC have completed their upfront deals. Fox, signed nearly $2 billion (even with last year) with cost-per-thousand impression (CPM) increases of between 8 and 9%. NBC brought in about $100 million more than last year’s season for $1.8 billion in volume (fueled largely by two cycles of “The Voice”), and CPM increases of between 6 and 7%.
- The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) and the NBC Sports Group have announced the schedule for this year’s Summer at Saratoga series, with five live broadcasts from Saratoga Race Course, starting on Saturday, August 11, going through Saturday, September 1, and including marquee races such as the Alabama, Travers, and Woodward. Saratoga Race Course was named one of the world’s top 10 venues of the 20th century by Sports Illustrated. From late July through Labor Day, many of the sport’s top owners, trainers, jockeys, and horses gather in Saratoga Springs for the premier thoroughbred racing meet in the country. First held in 1863, the Saratoga meet regularly draws more than 20,000 passionate racing fans to the track on a daily basis.
- History Channel has announced “Shark Wranglers,” a new series premiering Sunday, July 1 at 10 P.M. The series follows real-life Captain Quints to the Great White-infested waters off of South Africa, in what the channel calls “the most ambitious shark expedition in history.” The crew will track the world’s most deadly and threatened sharks, tagging them for research. Their goal is 50 sharks in 40 days – a near impossible mission that will test the team’s resolve as they battle through every conceivable setback. The show centers around pre-eminent ocean explorer and elite fisherman Chris Fischer.
CBS has confirmed that it has wrapped its upfront sales with “less money committed to the network than last season,” reports Broadcasting & Cable. ABC sources confirmed to B&C that it too had finished its upfront deals, with flat volume. All the networks are bundling their broadcast and digital sales, which have done little to excite advertisers.
CBS is getting between an 8 and 9% increase in cost-per-thousand impressions (CPMs), which is typical year to year, and down from 13% to 15% hikes last year. ABC got increases of between 6% and 7%, versus the 11%-12% it commanded last year. The network sold ads across all platforms, including digital, reports Deadline Hollywood.
No announcement yet from FX, but, Hollywood Reporter confirms the network has sold out ads for the first four episodes of the Charlie Sheen vehicle “Anger Management.” FX has not released figures, but is claiming the highest CPM rates in the network’s history for a first-season show, and has signed Fiat as a sponsor.
None of the nets have confirmed if they have struck deals with General Motors, which is pressing networks to drop their prices, and threatening to boost their European advertising at the expense of domestic. Adweek reports that at least two broadcasters have walked away from GM, the nation’s third largest advertiser, which was asking for rollbacks as high as 20%.
Per Nielsen data, CBS wrapped up the 2011-2012 season with average nightly viewership of 11.8 million, and with an average 3.0 rating among adults 18-49, second only to Fox with a 3.2. It also had eight of the top 10 scripted series, including “NCIS” and “The Big Bang Theory.”
The CW wrapped up first last week, with 7% CPM increases. The CW bundled mobile (iPhone, Android, iPad) inventory with its linear TV units, with retail and wireless being its strongest ad categories. Buyer were reportedly enthused by, among other properties, the October premieres of a superhero/action series called “Arrow,” and the “Sex and the City” prequel “The Carrie Diaries.”
- CNN is canceling its 6 P.M. broadcast “John King USA,” and replacing it with an extra hour of “The Situation Room,” reports TVNewser. King will become CNN’s lead national campaign correspondent for the remainder of the election cycle, “not as plum a gig as having an hour-long nightly program.” In a memo to CNN staff obtained by TVNewser, CNN/U.S. chief Ken Jautz explained that King will provide reports for “SitRoom,” “AC360” and other programs and CNN platforms. King is a veteran of seven presidential elections while with CNN. “JK USA” launched in March 2010, leading up to the midterm elections, but despite a couple of moves, never garnered much viewership.
- The Justice Department is actively investigating whether cable operators are trying to suppress over-the-top video competition, reports Broadcasting & Cable. Cable industry sources told B&C that several cable companies have been contacted over the last two months. At odds from complainants like Netflix is that, for example, Comcast does not count its Xfinity video service through Xbox against its broadband data caps, but does so for other video services via Xbox. Comcast announced last month that it was shifting from broadband caps to usage-based pricing.
- Amazon has struck a deal with Metro-Golydwn-Mayer Studios to enable Amazon Prime customers to stream MGM a library of MGM content, reports Deadline. This includes the the late 1980s TV series “thirtysomething” which inspired America to ask “what about my needs?” It will also include hit films like “Silence of the Lambs,” “Dances with Wolves,” “Rain Man” and “The Terminator.” Among other TV series included are “Stargate Atlantis,” “Stargate Universe” and “The Pink Panther Show.” Brad Beale, director of digital video content acquisition for Amazon, said the Prime Instant Video service now includes more than 18,000 movies and TV episodes.
- Yahoo and CNBC have struck a non-exclusive alliance to share business news content, designed to expand CNBC’s online reach while giving Yahoo Finance a broadcast presence, describes Hollywood Reporter.The agreement follows a similar one between Yahoo and ABC News in 2011. CNBC will become becomes the premier content provider for Yahoo Finance in the US. Under the alliance, Yahoo Finance’s journalists will contribute to CNBC’s Business Day programming, while CNBC clips, news and analysis will be prominently integrated into the Yahoo Finance site and also be featured across the Yahoo network.
- Not too soon to buy. ION Television today has announced five all-new original Christmas movies for its 2012. The collection will premiere in November, and includes "Christmas Twister," "A Christmas Wedding," "Anything But Christmas," "Golden Christmas 3," and "A Star for Christmas.” Perhaps the highest ratings potential is “Christmas Twister,” helmed by Casper Van Dien of “Starship Troopers” fame. ION claims its 2011 holiday season saw double-digit increases in households, adults 18-49 and total viewers, a well as an ION-record 1.8 million total viewers for the original holiday movie "A Christmas Kiss."
- Few sports have the drama of horse racing, and it attracts even the non-sports fans. As Deadline Hollywood reports, despite the last-minute scratch of Triple Crown-hopeful I’ll Have Another, NBC’s broadcast of the Belmont Stakes (won by Union Rags) drew a 5.4 overnight rating for the race portion, up 13% from last year’s race on NBC and up 74% from 2010 on ABC. Yesterday’s race had the highest overnight for the race in a non-Triple Crown year since 2005 on NBC (6.0).
- The Saturday pay-per-view boxing match between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley could kill boxing history, projects Multichannel News. The controversial split decision favored Bradley, who (despite Pacquiao appearing to be the clear winner) eliminates a potential fall fight between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr., which sports analysts projected would be the highest-rated PPV event of all time. Still, a Nov. 10 rematch between Pacquiao and Bradley is in the works.
- This is what you get by crossing the youth demographic. Fans of MTV’s cancelled comedy “I Just Want My Pants Back” protested at the network’s New York and Los Angeles offices last Wednesday, reports Deadline Hollywood. The protestors draped about 500 pairs of pants over walls, lawns and bushes, before being stopped by security guards. The producers of the series are still talking to TV networks and streaming services about picking Pants up.
- NBC and NBC Sports Network have released their 2012 college football schedule. The networks combined will televise 32 college football games during the 2012 season, beginning with a triple-header on Saturday, Sept. 8. Coverage kicks off on Saturday, Sept. 8, with Purdue at Notre Dame on NBC at 3:30 P.M. ET and Delaware State at Delaware (CAA) at 3:30 P.M. ET on NBC Sports Network. Later that night, NBC Sports Network will air Army at San Diego State (MWC) at 7:30 P.M. ET. The first Ivy League telecasts air on NBC Sports Network on Saturday, Sept. 22, when Cornell hosts Yale at 1 P.M. ET followed by defending champion Harvard at Brown at 4:30 P.M. ET. The NBC and NBC Sports Network 2012 college football schedule includes seven Notre Dame games, 10 Mountain West Conference games, six Colonial Athletic Association games, seven Ivy League games, plus the Bayou Classic and Atlanta Football Classic.
The youth-oriented CW network has raised its cost-per-thousand (CPM) price by about 7% and sold nearly 75% of its inventory, reports Deadline Hollywood. Retailers and mobile phone companies are especially eager to buy spots. This year’s upfront season is generally considered a bit sluggish overall, and The CW is an indicator: its prices rose 11% last year. But the network is particularly strong in cross-media offerings and social TV: its “America’s Next Top Model” offering will roll in social media and viewer voting in 2012.
The CW las loaded its first-ever summer schedule with original programming, announcing the August premieres for two new reality series “The Next: Fame Is At Your Doorstep” and “Oh Sit!” as well as the summer debut “America’s Next Top Model: College Edition.” This summer will also feature season two of “The LA Complex” and the return of “Remodeled.”
“Oh Sit!” is a high-octane musical chairs competition, which kicks off the action on Wednesday, August 15 (8:00-9:00 P.M.). Hosted by Jamie Kennedy (“The Ghost Whisperer”) and actress/television host Jessi Cruickshank (“MTV Live”), “Oh Sit!” will see 12 thrill-seekers racing head to head through five physically demanding, obstacle course-style eliminations as they each compete to claim a chair, to the sounds of a live band. At the end of the hour, only one contestant will be left sitting triumphant to seize the cash prize. Adding to the fun, Tanika Ray (“Extra”) will be in the trenches with the contestants both on and off the track and will add color commentary from the sidelines as the action unfolds.
On Thursday, August 16 (9:00-10:00 P.M.), The CW will go on a nationwide search for undiscovered artists on the verge of stardom with “The Next: Fame is At Your Doorstep” from executive producer and hip-hop icon Queen Latifah and executive producer Dave Broome (“The Biggest Loser”). In this new take on the music competition genre, superstar mentors, including Grammy Award-nominated musician and actor Joe Jonas, Grammy Award-winning hip-hop superstar Nelly, pop legend Gloria Estefan, and country star John Rich will travel to where the talent is, immersing themselves in the lives and towns of these local performers and preparing them for the chance to represent their home city on stage, live, in front of America.
On Friday, August 24 (8:00-9:00 P.M.), “America’s Next Top Model: College Edition” makes its debut with a new format, new talent and a new judge – the viewer. Cycle 19 of the show will offer an interactive experience where, for the first time in “America’s Next Top Model” history, the public will be able to have a say in who stays and who goes in the competition. Right now, fans can go online at www.cwtv.com and vote for their favorite contestants based on photo shoots taken during production. These scores will be used by Tyra Banks and the judges to help determine who is eliminated each week and select viewer comments and videos will be featured in the show.
Also this summer on The CW, “The L.A. Complex” returns with the first seven, all-new episodes from its second season, Tuesday, July 17 (9:00-10:00 P.M.). To lead up to its season two premiere, The CW is currently encoring the entire first season of “The L.A. Complex” Tuesdays (9:00-10:00 P.M.). “Remodeled,” starring modeling icon Paul Fisher, will also return to The CW Monday, July 9 (9:00-10:00 P.M.), starting from the beginning and featuring never-before-seen episodes.
Following is the additional CW summer premiere schedule:
Monday, July 9
9:00-10:00 P.M. “Remodeled” (series premiere encore)
Tuesday, July 17
9:00-10:00 P.M. “The L.A. Complex” (season two premiere)
Wednesday, August 15
8:00-9:00 P.M. “Oh Sit!” (series premiere)
Thursday, August 16
8:00-9:00 P.M. “Oh Sit!” (special original episode)
9:00-10:00 P.M. “The Next: Fame Is At Your Doorstep” (series premiere)
Friday, August 24
8:00-9:00 P.M. “America’s Next Top Model: College Edition”
(cycle 19 premiere)
- Syfy has renewed “Lost Girl” for a third season, beginning January 2013. SyFy claims “Lost Girl” is the #1 cable drama among Adults 18-49 and Adults 25-54 in its time period (Monday 10 P.M.). During season two to-date, “Lost Girl” is averaging 895,000 Adults 18-49, 930,000 Adults 25-54 and 1.64 million total viewers, based on available Live +7 data. On July 20, Lost Girl will move from Mondays at 10PM (ET/PT) to Fridays at 10PM. Anna Silk stars as seductress Bo, a Succubus, a kind of “sexual vampire.” Raised by human parents, Bo had no reason to believe she was anything other than the girl next door – until she “drained” her first boyfriend to death.
- This should piggyback nicely on the “Walking Dead” and “Zombie Apocalypse” fever. Spike TV has announced “Last Family On Earth” for Fall 2012. The reality series will pit families against one another in a post-apocalyptic worlds. The families will vie for a spot in an underground state-of-the-art Vivos bunker that is fortified to withstand nearly any end-of-days disaster scenario. Produced by Pilgrim Studios, the six-episode one-hour series will air just in time for the family to survive the world’s cataclysmic demise on December 21, as predicted by the Mayan calendar. Perhaps. The competition will showcase survival techniques. In addition to endurance and physical skills, challenges will test the contestants’ leadership abilities, integrity and character. A panel of three survivalist-expert judges, along with viewer input via social media, will help determine which family is eliminated each week.
- NBC’s “Love In The Wild” ratings are actually rather tame, says Hollywood Reporter. After kicking off Tuesday night with a strong “America's Got Talent” at a 3.4 rating, the second-season premiere of “Love In The Wild,” with new host Jenny McCarthy, was down 27% from the 2011 season premiere. It averaged a 1.6 rating among adults 18-49, which was still enough to lead the 10 P.M. slot. NBC averaged a 2.2 adults rating and 7.4 million viewers for the night.
- Ad reach on AMC took a hit on sunday night when the carriage dispute between Dish Network and AMC Networks “reached a new low,” reports Multichannel News. Dish Network changed AMC’s channel position suddenly, during an airing of “The Killing,” and after AMC aired a commercial showing its side of the dispute. Dish argues that AMC, the home of award-winning cable shows “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad” and “The Walking Dead,” is asking for too much for programming that most Dish customers don't watch. AMC aired a spot with a phone number and web link urging Dish to “Keep AMC.” Without warning, Dish moved AMC’s channel position from 130 to 9069—in other words, outerspace.
- ABC will continue to produce “Glass House” and premiere on June 18th, reports Deadline Hollywood. CBS had attempted to block the production which it says rips off its own “Big Brother.” Judge John McDermott rejected CBS’ fast-track discovery schedule in favor of a more lenient one proposed by ABC. The ruling gives ABC until June 11 to provide documents and declarations for CBS to examine. CBS said it would file a temporary restraining order against “Glass House” while these matters are ongoing, but had not done so as of end of day Tuesday.
Upfront TV: “Community” Critics’ Choice | A&E’s “Longmire” Record | MTV Awards Shrivel | Lecter Cast
- A true upset in the just-announced Critics’ Choice Awards. As TVLine reports, NBC’s always-on-the-bubble “Community” leads the way in nominations, including Best Comedy Series, Best Actor (Joel McHale), Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (Danny Pudi and Jim Rash) and Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (Alison Brie and Gillian Jacobs). That puts “Community” ahead of AMC’s “Breaking Bad” and “Mad Men,” as well as NBC’s “Parks and Recreation,” each with five nominations. Time will tell if this does “Community” any good. Before you move your ad spend, note that critical opinion can be way out of sync with Nielsen ratings (hence single-season runs for stuff like “My So-Called Life” starring Clare Danes, and long runs of “The Brady Bunch” and “Gilligan’s Island,” both universally panned by the intelligentsia).
- Modern westerns are fraught with ratings peril. For every “Deadwood” there are a half-dozen failures like “The Magnificent Seven,” “Lazarus Man” and “Hell On Wheels.” But A&E set a new record for itself with the Sunday premiere of “Longmire,” according to Hollywood Reporter. The Sunday debut pulls in 4.1 million viewers for A&E, topping the network’s previous scripted efforts including "The Glades," "The Cleaner and "Breakout Kings." The broadcast also ranked as a top performer among the 25-54 demographic, averaging 1.4 million for the hour. Based on the Walt Longmire Mystery novels by best-selling author Craig Johnson, “Longmire” stars Australian actor Robert Taylor (The Matrix) as Walt Longmire, the charismatic, dedicated and unflappable sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming. “Longmire” also stars Katee Sackhoff (“Battlestar Gallactica”), Lou Diamond Phillips (“Numb3rs”), Bailey Chase (“Damages”), Cassidy Freeman (“Smallville”) and newcomer Adam Bartley.
- If youth is fleeting, so is youthful viewership. The Sunday night MTV Movie Awards broadcast was down nearly 30% from its 2011 viewership, according to The Wrap. The show averaged still-pretty-good 3.2 million total viewers, compared to last year’s 4.5 million total viewers. But the MTV Movie Awards faced a couple of handicaps. First, it was up against the season finale of “Game of Thrones” on HBO, and the NBA playoffs. And it was hosted by British comic Russell Brand, whose star seems to have fallen.
- NBC has found its Hannibal Lecter. You would know him better by his role as the Bond villain Le Chiffre in “Casino Royale” than by his own name—Mads Mikkelsen. As Deadline Hollywood reports, Danish-born Mikkelsen will star opposite Hugh Dancy FBI agent Will Graham in the 13-episode series "Hannibal" that predates “Silence of the Lambs.” The premise is that Graham is unaware psychiatrist Lecter’s insanity, and enlists Lecter in helping the FBI hunt serial killers. The role of Lecter was made famous by Anthony Hopkins, who won an Oscar for “Silence Of The Lambs,” while both William Peterson (CSI) and Edward Norton have played Graham.
- NBC has also found its new Herman Munster. Jerry O’Connell (best known as Vern, the hefty kid in “Stand By Me”) will play Herman in the “Munsters” reboot “Mockingbird Lane,” says Entertainment Weekly. He will be joined by British comic Eddie Izzard as Grandpa. By all accounts, this treatment will be a darker one than the 1960s sitcom, and is scripted by Bryan Fuller of “Pushing Up Daisies.” Fuller is both writer and producer, and told EW that he wants the show to be an "American Harry Potter," or a family version of "American Horror Story."
E! Network, the 25-year-old younger-skewing network (and now an NBC Universal property) has announced its Summer 2012 lineup, built chiefly around unscripted series and the good-people-gone-bad premise.
“Opening Act” season one
Premieres Monday, July 9th @ 10:00 P.M. ET/PT
From International Emmy-winning producer Nigel Lythgoe comes the new series that breaks the mold of talent/reality television. In “Opening Act,” Lythgoe and his A-List Artist Development Team – including Grammy-winning superstar Mary J. Blige and producer Antonina Armato from Rock Mafia – comb the Internet to find the web’s most talented amateurs, then give them the chance to open for a top music superstar. But here, there are no judges to woo, auditions to pass or rounds to win: Each band or solo act has only days to prepare after a surprise visit that presents them with the opportunity, and viewers follow them from obscurity to the big-time gig. “Opening Act” will showcase not only some unknown talent, but the very personal journey that awaits them on their way to perform on a national stage.
“Married to Jonas” season one
Premieres Sunday, August 19th @ 10:00 P.M. ET/PT
E! is capturing the lives of one of what it calls “America’s sweetest couples”, being Kevin and Danielle Jonas. Kevin, a member of the Grammy-nominated Jonas Brothers, met the then Danielle Deleasa while on a family vacation in the Bahamas. Dani, a down-to-earth girl from New Jersey, tied the knot with Kevin in 2009.The couple quickly entered a whole new world, balancing marriage, worldwide fame and coming of age. Together, they are working to manage the colliding points of view between Dani’s outspoken Italian family and the Hollywood life of the Jonas clan, including Kevin’s equally successful brothers Joe and Nick. After two years of newlywed bliss, Kevin and Dani are settling down in their New Jersey home and establish a happy suburban life. However, with the Jonas Brothers heading back to the studio to record new music, finding the right mix of “normal” and superstardom isn’t easy.
“E! Entertainment Special: Heroes Gone Wrong”
Premieres Monday, June 11th @ 8:00 P.M. ET/PT
What happens when the people who are supposed to keep us safe turn out to be dangerous predators? “Heroes Gone Wrong” reveals shocking stories of ruthless criminals who made headlines when they violated the public trust and committed horrendous acts. In this brand new one-hour special E! unravels these horrific tales of Scandal and betrayal, and reveals the details of what led to the demise of these fallen heroes.
“E! Entertainment Special: Bridal to Homicidal”
Premieres Monday, June 25th @ 8:00 P.M. ET/PT
In the all new” E! Entertainment Special: Bridal to Homicidal”, E! recounts fascinating and disturbing stories of housewives who snapped.
Airs weeknights @ 11:00 P.M. ET/PT
This series provides late night phenom Chelsea Handler with the perfect showcase for what she does best: comment on pop culture & entertainment news while interacting with the public. The daily program offers a tongue-in-cheek look at entertainment news, celebrity truths and rumors that just won’t die, and other hot topics of the day. Bringing refreshing new energy to the late night arena, “Chelsea Lately” is an authentic and hilarious commentary on the celebrity culture around us.
Airs Weeknights @ 7:00 P.M. & 11:30 P.M. ET/PT
E!’s popular series, “E! News,” gives entertainment fans extensive coverage of breaking news, behind-the-scenes access to the hottest shows, exclusive celebrity interviews and all the biggest red carpet events. Alongside E! News anchor Giuliana Rancic, viewers’ favorite celebrity correspondents – Jason Kennedy, Ashlan Gorse, Catt Sadler, Ken Baker, David Burtka, Alicia Quarles and Melanie Bromley – bring fans breaking news, inside celebrity scoop and coverage of pop culture’s biggest events.
Airs Fridays @ 10:00pm ET/PT
Comedy superstar Joan Rivers brings her no-holds-barred celebrity fashion and juicy pop culture commentary to viewers as host of E!’s popular weekly series, “Fashion Police.” Joining her are E!’s resident fashionista Giuliana Rancic, Red Carpet darling Kelly Osbourne and celebrity stylist George Kotsiopoulos. These Hollywood insiders battle to right all the fashion wrongs and bring viewers their honest critique of the latest celebrity fashion and pop culture commentary each and every week. From runway shows and the hottest red carpets to Hollywood style out and about, this fierce foursome gives viewers a complete recap of the week’s celebrity fashion, along with the latest Hollywood stories.
“Keeping Up with the Kardashians”
Airs Sundays @ 9:00 P.M. ET/PT
Bringing “even more bonding, more love and more drama” from one of the most watched families on television, the Kardashians continue to share their questionable highs and crashing lows with the same candor, strength and humor, if not elegance, that have made this close-knit group one of the world’s most widely recognized families.
“Mrs. Eastwood & Company”
Airs Sundays @ 10:00 P.M. ET/PT
This 10 episode half-hour series takes viewers inside the fascinating world of the Eastwood family, from their hometown of Carmel, CA to Los Angeles and wherever their lives may take them. Following mom Dina, daughters Francesca and Morgan, the six members of “Overtone,” and those intimately involved in their world, this unconventional family proves that familial bonds are shaped by more than DNA. “Mrs. Eastwood & Company” offers an exceptional look at a rarely seen side of pop culture, fascinating personalities who have compelling stories and unique points of view.
Airs Wednesdays @ 10:00P.M. ET/PT
“The Soup” reigns in the week’s wildest and most memorable moments in the world of entertainment. Whether it’s pointing out the latest escapades of celebutants or politicians, commenting on the love lives of our favorite celebrities or re living the most outrageous clips of reality television, host Joel McHale has it covered. With his trademark dry wit and off the cuff humor, there’s never a dull moment on “The Soup,” so stay in touch with popular culture, re live it or catch up on it each week on E!.
Upfront TV: Fios Spanish Channels | Redgrave Joins “Animals” | “Today” Narrowly #1 | “Scream” Series
- Verizon FiOS TV will add 10 new high-definition Spanish-language channels, nine of them from independent distributor Olympusat Inc., reports Multichannel News. Olympusat’s UltraHDPlex lineup of channels include movie network Ultra Cine; music network Ultra Fiesta; kids-targeted channel Ultra Kidz; Mexican film-based Ultra Mex; women-oriented Ultra Luna; male-orientedUltra Macho; Spanish-dubbed cotemporary films channel Ultra Film; documentary-themed Ultra Docu; and the Mexican and Latin America classic film service Ultra Clásico, said company officials. The 10th channel, Multimedios Television, offers Spanish-language family and entertainment programming broadcast from Monterrey, Mexico. Overall, Verizon offers up to 75 Spanish-language channels on FiOS TV in selected markets.
- USA Network has signed Oscar winner Vanessa Redgrave for a guest stint on its “Political Animals,” reports Deadline Hollywood. Redgrave will play Diane Nash, a the first openly gay member of the Supreme Court who is friend and mentor to Elaine Barrish (Sigourney Weaver). The six-episode series will center on the divorced former First Lady and newly appointed Secretary of State played by Weaver, who throws herself into the job after recovering from the dissolution of her marriage to ex-President Bud Hammond (Ciaran Hinds) and losing the presidential nomination. The series is slated to debut July 15 and air in the Sunday 10 P.M. slot.
- NBC’s “Today” show retained its #1 slot in May, winning a “nail-biting competition” with ABC’s “Good Morning America,” reports The New York Times. The margin was just 13,000 viewers, which is within the Nielsen Company’s margin of errors. A year ago in May, the total viewer gap between the shows was a less nebulous 780,000, advantage “Today.” “Today” stayed No. 1 among 25- to 54-year-olds, but GMA staffers claim to be closing the gap.
- MTV is developing “Scream,” a series adaptation of the Wes Craven horror franchise, sources confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter. Since 1996, the franchise, with Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox and David Arquette, has included four outings and grossed more than $330 million worldwide. The “Scream” project comes as MTV has found scripted success with “Teen Wolf,” a somber adaptation of the 1980s movies that starred Michael J. Fox and Jason Bateman. MTV has just renewed “Teen Wolf” for a second season.
- Samuel L. Jackson will return to Spike TV to host “VGA TEN,” the tenth anniversary of the “Video Game Awards” live on Friday, December 7 at 9:00 P.M. ET/6:00 P.M. PT. The acclaimed international film, stage and video game star, most recently featured in the summer blockbuster, “The Avengers,” has hosted the “VGAs” three times from 2005-2007. The broadcast will once again air live and simultaneously on both Spike TV and Spike.com. “VGA Ten” will also air in over 100 countries and territories around the world. Also returning to the “VGAs” is Executive Producer Mark Burnett, the multi-Emmy Award-winning acclaimed producer of “Survivor,” “The Voice,” “The Apprentice,” the “63rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards,” the “MTV Movie Awards” and the “People’s Choice Awards.”
- NBC Sports Group has signed Hines Ward, a four-time Pro Bowler who played 14 years for the Pittsburgh Steelers before retiring after the 2011 season, as an analyst across its NFL, college football and studio programming. As part of the multi-year agreement, Ward will be a regular contributor to NBC’s “Football Night in America”; serve as an analyst every Saturday on NBC’s and NBC Sports Network’s college football studio programming with Liam McHugh and Doug Flutie; and will regularly appear on “NBC SportsTalk” with Mike Florio and Peter King to preview and recap the week in the NFL. Ward appeared on NBC’s Super Bowl XLVI pre-game show, and is a two-time Super Bowl champion. The Super Bowl XL MVP finished his 14-year career with 1,000 catches for 12,083 yards and 83 touchdowns, all Steelers’ records.
- Fox Business Network will begin airing “Money with Melissa Francis, beginning Monday June 4, scheduled weeknights between 5 P.M. and 6 P.M., reports Multichannel News. Francis will break down the day's top stories, focusing on how they impact American taxpayers. Francis will continue in her role as co-anchor of FBN's “Markets Now” at 1 p.m. alongside Lori Rothman. The debut of “Money with Melissa Francis” will shift the FBN evening lineup, with “The Willis Report” moving to 6 P.M. from its previously staked 8 P.M. slot. “Lou Dobbs Tonight” will remain weeknights at 7 P.M., and Neil Cavuto will take over at 8 P.M. with “Cavuto.”
- AMC will air a 19-hour chock-full-of-extras marathon of its zombie drama “Walking Dead” running between January 7 and 8. The marathon will end with a live episode of its recap “Talking Dead,” which will feature a first-look scene from season three. As Hollywood Reporter describes, the cable network will air for the first time a black-and-white version of the pilot episode of the series based on the comics created by Robert Kirkman (themselves in black and white). Episodes will air from January 7 to 8, and the “Talking Dead” primetime special will air live Sunday, July 8 at 9 p.m., followed by the black-and-white pilot episode at 10 p.m. “Talking Dead” host Chris Hardwick will introduce each episode of the series with cast members on location in Atlanta, where production on Season 3 is under way.
- Oxygen has slated the season two return of “The Glee Project” for Tuesday, June 5 at 10 P.M. ET/PT. Lea Michele joins the show as the first guest mentor. If the music is a bit—well—grating, the show will be a test of social TV viewing. Viewers can chat about the music and the contenders on Twitter using @TheGleeProject and post their thoughts on the guest mentors, homework assignments and music videos using #TheGleeProject. Each week fans will be able to interact with their favorite contenders using Oxygen Connect, while earning points and badges. And they can enter for a chance to win a trip to meet their favorite contender face-to-face by completing weekly “Superfan Search” missions. Fans can also engage with the show by voting for their contender during the “Last Chance Performance” using special hashtags featured on-air.
- Animal Planet original series “River Monsters” finished its fourth season on Monday as the network's most- watched series ever, reports Broadcasting & Cable. “monsters” follows extreme angler Jeremy Wade as he tracks down huge freshwater fish, and drew 1.5 million viewers during its fourth season, according to the network. “Monsters” also topped its previous year's performance in all demos including adults 25-54 (up 9% to 836,000 viewers); men 25-54 (up 6%, 500,000 viewers) and women 25-54 (336,000 viewers). The series' season four premiere was the most-watched debut in Animal Planet's history, delivering nearly 1.8 million total viewers.