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Upfront TV: OWN “Saddles” Discovery | WWE’s Wrestlemania Event | MLB/Fox Pregame Show | No “Office”?

Published on March 22, 2012
  • The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) could “Saddle…Winfrey and Discovery Communications with a $142.9 million loss this year,” reports Broadcasting & Cable, citing SNL Kagan data. Kagan’s Derek Baines listed the challenges; bad press that scares off advertisers, and having to renew carriage deals with cable operators in 2012 and 2013, versus the three-year (at least) contracts it could have expected with better ratings. As Baines described, “[Discovery’s] hope for license fees of 20 cents to 25 cents per sub may now be unrealistic." Baines expects Discovery to ask Winfrey to cover the losses, if the partnership is to move forward. Meanwhile, both the LA Times and RadarOnline (a gossip outlet that tends to be accurate) report that Winfrey is courting her long-time friend Maria Shriver to step into the network with a show, to add journalistic credibility. Her Kennedy/Schwarzenegger connections aside, Shriver is a Peabody Award-winning journalist, and has anchor experience on CBS and at “NBC Dateline” and “NBC Nightly News.”
  • Numerous ad opportunities, on a handful of networks, for this wrestling matchup. World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and NBCUniversal are joining forces to televise “Once in a Lifetime – Rock vs. Cena,” a one-hour special that follows WWE Superstars The Rock and John Cena on their respective roads to WrestleMania XXVIII. This first ever behind-the-scenes special premieres Monday, March 26 on USA Network at 8 P.M. ET, 7 P.M. CT and will also air on NBCUniversal networks including Syfy, Bravo, E!, Oxygen, G4, Style, NBC Sports Network, mun2, CLOO and Universal HD leading up to WrestleMania on Sunday, April 1 at 7:00 P.M.  ET. WWE and NBCU promise “a candid and compelling look at two of the biggest icons in sports entertainment history as they prepare for their Once in a Lifetime main event match. From touring and training on the road to Hollywood movie sets to the 54th Annual Daytona 500, this in-depth look with exclusive footage gives viewers unprecedented access and a glimpse into the personal lives of these men.”

  • Major League Baseball (MLB) Network is partnering with Fox Sports on an expanded pregame show before Fox’s game of the week, reports Multichannel News. The Fox Saturday Baseball Pregame Show will run 30 minutes live from MLB's Studio 3 in Secaucus, N.J., hosted by Fox Sports and MLB Network veteran Matt Vasgersian. He will be partnered weekly with a roster of MLB Network analysts, incuding Harold Reynolds, Mitch Williams, Eric Byrnes and Kevin Millar. The first airdate will be April 7 at 3:30 P.M. ET, before a Boston Red Sox/Detroit Tigers contest, which is the first broadcast of Fox's 2012 regular-season schedule.
  • Yet another original series from Netflix. Netflix will offer the horror series "Hemlock Grove," from director, producer and “torture horror auteur” Eli Roth (“Grindhouse,” “Hostel,” “Cabin Fever”). Netflix promises “a gripping tale of murder, mystery and monsters set in a ravaged Pennsylvania steel town,” starring Famke Janssen and Bill Skarsgard. “Hemlock Grove” will be available for Netflix members to watch instantly, beginning early in 2013. The story line begins with the mangled corpse of a young girl, with suspects ranging from a biotech executive to a teenaged gypsy who claims to be a werewolf. This is the third original Netflix series, after David Fincher's "House of Cards" and the mobster-in-Norway series "Lillyhammer." Netflix is also producing a fourth season of the previously canceled Fox cult hit "Arrested Development."
  • Sir Patrick Stewart (Captain Picard of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and a Peabody Award-winning star of stage and screen) will host the 71st Annual George Foster Peabody Awards ceremony on Monday, May 21, at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. The winners of the Peabody Awards for original broadcast, cablecast and Webcast programs presented in 2011 will be announced via Webcast on April 4 from the University of Georgia. The Peabodys, the oldest awards in broadcasting, are considered among the most prestigious and selective prizes in electronic media. The Peabody Awards recognize excellence and meritorious work by radio and television stations, networks, webcasters, producing organizations and individuals. 

  • More signs that “The Office” will close, reports Deadline Hollywood. Paul Lieberstein (who plays bland HR director Toby Flanders on the show) is stepping down as executive producer and showrunner,. He will devote his time to a spinoff series, “The Farm,” starring Rainn Wilson (Dwight Schrute). Elsewhere, Mindy Kaling (Kelly Kapoor) is leaving for her own sitcom on Fox, and head writer Daniel Chun is likely defecting to ABC. As Hollywood Reporter describes, the remaining core cast members (Ed Helms, John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer) are still “in talks” about returning for the ninth season, and have been in talks for more than a month.