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TV News Roundup: Eliza Dushku to Develop ‘The Black Company’ Books as TV Series

24 minutes ago

In today’s roundup, Eliza Dushku is adapting a well-known book series for TV, IFC premiered for two new comedy series, and Norman Lear will host a new podcast. 

Development

Im Global Television, Eliza Dushku, and David S. Goyer will develop a television adaptation of “The Black Company” based on Glen Cook’s fantasy series. Dushku’s Boston Diva Productions optioned the ten-book fantasy series, with Dushku set to star as sorceress “The Lady.” The adaptation will include the forthcoming book “Port of Shadows,” which takes place between the first and second books in the series. The stories follow the Black Company, a mercenary unit that carries out nefarious deeds across a Tolkeinesque landscape, often at the behest of The Lady in order to maintain her power. When the men of the company discover that the embodiment of good has been reborn, they must re-examine their loyalties. David S. Goyer and Kevin Turen will executive produce, as »


- Erin Nyren

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Ron Howard Remembers ‘Happy Days’ Co-Star Erin Moran: ‘Feisty, Spirited Girl’

48 minutes ago

While visiting “The Talk” on Monday, director Ron Howard spoke about his “Happy Days” co-star Erin Moran, who died on Saturday at the age of 56.

“What a great, irrepressible spirit, you know, and a wonderful talent, and you know she was always the kid on the set,” he said.

He went on to share a memory of Moran on the set of “Happy Days,” which he called a kind of “boys club.”

“I do remember a particular moment where we were in rehearsal… and somehow it was kinda turning into a shaving cream fight, and she did sneak up behind Henry Winkler with a pretty good shaving cream pie and get him,” he remembered.

Moran played Joanie Cunningham, Howard’s younger sister, on the 1970s sitcom. Her body was found unresponsive by authorities in Indiana, with the coroner citing stage-four cancer as the cause of death.

Moran continued her role as Joanie in a spin-off show, “Joanie Loves Chachi »


- Erin Nyren

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Steve Harvey’s New Daytime Show Lands Exec Producer, Premiere Date

1 hour ago

Daytime veteran Shane Farley has been tapped to serve as executive producer of comedian Steve Harvey’s new daytime talk show. The new show, “Steve,” will premiere Sept. 5. Set to air on NBC-owned stations and other leading station groups, the new talker has been picked up in 95% of the U.S.

The show is set to tape in Los Angeles. Harvey’s current daytime show, “Steve Harvey,” tapes in Chicago.

In November, Harvey set a sew deal with NBCUniversal and Img to launch a syndicated daytime talk show that would give him a sizable ownership stake and control over the production. Harvey has spent five seasons as the host of an eponymous daytime talk show produced by Endemol Shine North America and distributed by NBCUniversal Domestic Television.

Harvey’s new show, also distributed by NBCUniversal, will tape on a new set on the Universal lot. Farley will executive produce alongside Gerald Washington and Img’s Mark Shapiro and »


- Daniel Holloway

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TV Review: ‘Genius’ on National Geographic

1 hour ago

One of Albert Einstein’s many accomplishments was unlocking entirely new ways of thinking: His theories about how time and space operate led to radical shifts in how physicists — and many ordinary people — view the building blocks of the universe.

So it’s odd that “Genius,” a clunky adaptation of Walter Isaacson’s sprightly biography of Einstein, doesn’t more effectively make use of the basic elements of Einstein’s eclectic and well-traveled life. If the goal was to fill out the pop-culture image of Einstein — who’s been depicted in many a dorm-room poster as an impish rebel with his tongue stuck out — this series is only occasionally successful. “Genius” is more often hampered by an approach that is often unsubtle and unworthy of such a precise and rigorous thinker. 

Episodes one and two jump around to a few different periods in the Nobel Prize winner’s life, but in the early going, “Genius »


- Maureen Ryan

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‘Fargo’ Season 3 Premiere Outpaces Season 2 in Delayed Viewing

2 hours ago

The “Fargo” Season 3 premiere on April 19 saw enough lift in Live-3 to put it a notch above Season 2 in total viewers.

According to Nielsen data, the Season 3 premiere grew to 3 million total viewers over three days, putting it 8% above Season 2’s opener (2.78 million). In the key adults 18-49 demographic, Season 3 was down 2% percent compared to Season 2. The most recent lift was good enough to elevate “Fargo” to the number five show of the night in the demo.

In the live-same day ratings, Season 3 was down from Season 2. This season’s opener drew 1.4 million viewers and a 0.4 rating. Season 2 opened to 1.6 million and a 0.5 rating, for a decline of  12.5% in total viewers and 20% in the demo season-to-season. While the series has never been a ratings juggernaut, it has been a critical darling and a consistent awards winner. To date, the series has been nominated for three Golden Globes, winning one, and 36 Emmy Awards, of »


- Joe Otterson

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Ingrid Michaelson/Liz Tigelaar Comedy Project ‘The Way I Am’ In the Works At Hulu

2 hours ago

Ingrid Michaelson rose to fame for having her songs on a TV show — now she’s about to get a show of her own.

The singer/songwriter, who first broke through on “Grey’s Anatomy,” has a project in development to Hulu, which she created with Liz Tigelaar (“Casual”).

“The Way I Am,” a single-camera comedy, is loosely based on Michaelson’s life. She’ll also be starring in the project, playing a heightened, fictionalized version of herself — a singer/songwriter who’s described as being at the height of her career, even if everyone thinks she’s Lisa Loeb.

Hulu is said to have won the project in a competitive bidding situation, with multiple networks bidding on the project.

Tigelaar penned the script and will serve as an executive producer, along with Michaelson and Lynn Grossman.

This project is a continuation of Tigelaar’s relationship with Hulu, who currently serves as showrunner of Golden-Globe nominated comedy »


- Debra Birnbaum

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Scott Baio on ‘Happy Days’ Co-Star Erin Moran’s Death: ‘For Me, You Do Drugs or Drink, You’re Gonna Die’

3 hours ago

It’s been two days since “Happy Days” star Erin Moran was found dead in her New Salisbury, Indiana home, and her former co-star Scott Baio is already questioning what really killed the 56-year-old actress.

Monday morning, the Harrison County Coroner’s Office and Sheriff’s Department issued a joint statement saying Moran passed due to complications with her stage 4 cancer. The statement added there were no illegal narcotics found at the scene, but Baio thinks her lifetime of drugs and alcohol abuse may have had something to do with her untimely death.

During an interview with “The Bernie & Sid Show,” also Monday, Baio admitted he was “not completely shocked” by his “Joanie Loves Chachi” co-star’s passing.

“I’m Ok, a little shocked but not completely shocked that this happened. My thing is, I feel bad because her whole life, she was troubled, could never find what made her happy and content. For »


- JD Knapp

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Biz Holds Breath as WGA, AMPTP Return to Bargaining Table on Tuesday

3 hours ago

As the industry awaits the results of the WGA’s strike authorization vote, the real test of whether the biz should brace for labor unrest will come on Tuesday when the guild and the major studios return to the bargaining table.

In the week since the Writers Guild of America and Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers suspended contract negotiations, the WGA has held membership meetings in Los Angeles and New York to update writers on the state of the talks and to rally votes for the authorization. Amid all this activity, there is a growing sense among plugged-in people on both sides of the negotiations that the pathway to a deal is starting to emerge.

As one well-connected showrunner put it: “Unless someone on either side does something stupid, there should be a deal to make.”

Industry sources said the tone and approach taken by both camps in Tuesday’s meeting will be crucial. The »

- Cynthia Littleton

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Former ‘Fox & Friends’ Anchor Heather Nauert Named State Department Spokesperson

3 hours ago

Heather Nauert, former news anchor on “Fox & Friends,” has been named spokesperson at the State Department.

Nauert has been on “Fox & Friends” since 2012 and also co-anchored other programs and served as correspondent. The State Department noted that she has reported on the 9/11 terror attacks, the war in Iraq and the genocide in Darfur.

“Heather’s media experience and long interest in international affairs will be invaluable as she conveys the Administration’s foreign policy priorities to the American people and the world,” the State Department said in its announcement.

Before Fox News, Nauert was a network correspondent for ABC News, and was nominated for an Emmy for a piece on teenage girls in Iraq.

President Trump was a regular guest on “Fox & Friends” before he ran for president, and, through his tweets and other statements, has frequently cited stories he has seen on the show.

Nauert is not the first journalist to jump to the role of »


- Ted Johnson

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‘Seinfeld’ Star Jason Alexander’s ‘Hit the Road’ Ordered by Audience Network

5 hours ago

At&T’s Audience Network has given a straight-to-series order to “Hit the Road,” a half-hour comedy from “Seinfeld” actor Jason Alexander, who will star and executive produce. The series, which received a 10-episode first-season order, is created by Peter Tilden, Alexander, and Dean Craig.

Alexander will star as Ken Swallow, the patriarch of a family traveling the country and trying to make it as a rock-pop band.

“I am so honored by the faith and support we’ve been given by At&T Audience Network and our producing partners,” said Alexander. “We are so excited to bring this funny, fearless, chaotic musical family to life. And we are so grateful for the opportunity.”

“Working with a comedic genius like Jason Alexander is truly an honor and we know our viewers are going to fall in love with their quirky and hysterical twist on the modern-day Partridge Family, said  Chris Long, head »


- Daniel Holloway

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Our Staff Picks: TV Shows to Watch the Week of April 24, 2017

5 hours ago

Welcome back to Tune In: our weekly newsletter offering a guide to the best of the week’s TV.

Each week, Variety’s TV team combs through the week’s TV schedule, selecting our picks of what to watch and when/how to watch it. This week, three book adaptations will make their debut on the airwaves, while the TV version of the film “Dear White People” launches on Netflix.

Genius,” National Geographic, Tuesday, 9 p.m.

In the 75-minute series premiere, viewers will be taken inside the life of one of the most iconic minds in human history: Albert Einstein. Based on Walter Isaacson’s book “Einstein: His Life and Universe,” the series stars Geoffrey Rush and Johnny Flynn, who will play the world famous physicist at different points in his life. Brian Grazer and Ron Howard serve as executive producers on the series, which has already been renewed for a second season.

“The »


- Joe Otterson

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‘Happy Days’ Star Erin Moran Died of Cancer, Coroner Says

6 hours ago

Erin Moran, known for playing Joanie Cunningham on “Happy Days,” most likely died of stage-four cancer, Variety has confirmed.

The cause of death was released on Monday in a joint statement from the Harrison County Coroner’s office and sheriff’s department.

“A joint investigation into Mrs. Moran’s death was conducted by the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department and the Harrison County Coroner’s office,” the statement reads. “A subsequent autopsy revealed that Mrs. Moran likely succumbed to complications of stage 4 cancer. Standard toxicology tests were performed and the results are pending however no illegal narcotics were found at the residence.”

The California-born actress, who also starred in the “Happy Days” spinoff “Joanie Loves Chachi,” had reportedly fallen on hard times in recent years. Moran’s untimely death on Saturday at age 56 was followed by an outpouring of support from the entertainment community, including her “Happy Days” co-stars.

Henry Winkler wrote in a statement, “I »


- Variety Staff

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Fox News Guest Denies Sean Hannity Harassed Her, But Still Claims Incident Occurred

6 hours ago

Debbie Schlussel, a conservative commentator, says that she does not believe that an incident in which she claims she turned down Sean Hannity’s advances and later was “banned” from Fox News was a case of sexual harassment.

She told LawNewz on Monday that “I never thought I was sexually harassed by Sean Hannity, I thought he was weird and creepy not someone I liked.”

Over the weekend, after headlines of her story appeared, Hannity vigorously denied them and threatened legal action.

On Friday, Schlussel said in a radio interview that Hannity once invited her to his hotel while he was taping a show in Detroit. She told LawNewz that she was invited to his hotel, not his hotel room. She said that she was later not invited back to appear on Fox News.

On Twitter, Hannity tweeted out Schlussel’s LawNewz interview with the remark, “Already the story changes.”

But »


- Ted Johnson

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ABC Sets Digital Mvpd Pacts for 160-Plus Affiliates Through Clearinghouse Initiative (Exclusive)

6 hours ago

ABC is now in the fast lane when it comes to getting affiliate stations on board with emerging digital MVPDs.

The network has enlisted more than 160 of its 200 affiliate stations to join the ABC Clearinghouse initiative unveiled last year at the National Assn. of Broadcasters’ convention in Las Vegas. ABC offered its affils the chance to opt-in to a uniform carriage deal template negotiated by network executives in an effort to ensure that the network has a robust presence on emerging platforms.

As Nab begins again this week, ABC said it has marshaled more than two-thirds of its affiliates, plus the eight ABC O&Os, for live streaming carriage pacts with DirecTV Now, Sony PlayStation Vue, YouTube TV and CenturyLink. There are more deals to come with the soon-to-be-unveiled service from Hulu and other nascent ventures. Amazon, for one, is known to be pursuing a skinny-bundle streaming channel package that would include local broadcast affiliates of the »


- Cynthia Littleton

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TV Ratings: ‘Little Big Shots’ Leads NBC to Demo Victory, CBS Wins Viewers

7 hours ago

NBC was the number one network in the key adults 18-49 demographic thanks to top-rated show of the night “Little Big Shots.”

According to overnight Nielsen data, “Little Big Shots” drew a 1.2 rating and 8.2 million viewers. That was enough to elevate NBC to the top spot in the demo on Sunday night, though the network finished second in total viewers to CBS.

A repeat of “Little Big Shots” led into the new episode at 8 p.m. “Chicago Justice” (1.0, 5.6 million) followed at 9 p.m. “Shades of Blue” (0.7, 4.1 million) closed out the night steady from last week.

On CBS, “60 Minutes” (0.8, 9.6 million) was up in total viewers. “NCIS: Los Angeles” (1.0, 9.4 million) was even, while “Madam Secretary” (0.7, 7.8 million) and “Elementary” (0.5, 4.6 million) both dipped slightly in the demo.

For ABC, “America’s Funniest Home Videos” (1.0, 4.8 million) was up significantly in the key demo compared to its last original episode. “Once Upon a Time” (0.8, 2.7 million) was even, while »


- Joe Otterson

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NBC Will Launch Megyn Kelly News Series In June

7 hours ago

NBC is expected to launch a new Sunday newsmagazine program anchored by Megyn Kelly in June, according to a person familiar with the situation, a move that begins to firm up the former Fox News star’s role with her new employer.

The new program is expected to feature Kelly as the lead of an ensemble of reporters, and will be supervised by two veteran NBC News producers who also lead the network’s venerable “Dateline.” David Corvo and Liz Cole have been the team overseeing that popular newsmagazine since 2011. Kate Snow, who anchors NBC’s Sunday-night broadcast of “NBC Nightly News” and who recently stepped down from anchoring an hour at MSNBC,  is expected to contribute to the new program.

NBC News declined to make executives available to comment. Page Six previously reported details of Kelly’s new program.

Kelly was formally freed from her contract with Fox News Channel earlier this month, accelerating »


- Brian Steinberg

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CBS TV Studios Exec Karyn Smith-Forge Joins Verve as TV Agent

7 hours ago

Karyn Smith-Forge is departing CBS TV Studios for a TV agent position with Verve Talent and Literary Agency, Variety has learned.

Smith-Forge began her career as an agent with Endeavor before transitioning to an executive role at Fox TV Studios. During her time at Fox, she helped develop shows such as USA Network’s “White Collar” and TNT’s “Saving Grace.”

She joined CBS TV Studios in 2012, and currently holds the position of senior vice president of cable programming. Since joining CBS, she worked on hit shows like: “Power,” which is going into its fourth season at Starz; Freeform comedy “Young & Hungry,” which has been renewed for Season 5; and the upcoming TBS series “Guest Book,” which was created by “My Name Is Earl” creator Greg Garcia.

“We are thrilled to have Karyn join our team! Her vast experience developing and selling television programs will undoubtedly make her an invaluable addition to our growing ranks,” Verve »


- Joe Otterson

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In ‘President Show,’ Comedy Central’s Fake Trump Tackles Real Late-Night Rivals

8 hours ago

When President Donald Trump speaks, people hear many different sounds: A rallying cry for blue-collar America. A dog-whistle signal for extremists. A new philosophy that might shape the nation for the next several years.

Anthony Atamanuik picks up the faint strains of poetry.

“Trump speaks almost lyrically, like a refrain. He talks to himself. When he’s talking, he’s always telling himself what he is saying, and then he repeats it to confirm it to himself,” says the comedian. “He’s running and revising a concept over and over again. He will give it, and repeat, and return to it.”

People may debate whether the president should be lumped in with Alfred Tennyson, Carl Sandburg, and Ogden Nash, or even some guy who scrawls dirty limericks on a public bathroom wall. Yet they are likely to give Atamanuik, 42 years old, some leeway when he begins to interpret the nation’s 45th president as if he were »


- Brian Steinberg

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Conecta Fiction Analyzes Latino Scripted Format Business

11 hours ago

Paris — Conecta Fiction, the new Latino TV drama co-production forum, hosted a panel at Series Mania which analyzed adaptations of scripted formats from Spain and Latin America.

For the world’s TV business, fiction makeovers are relatively rare, repping just 2% of exported scripted drama in 2016, according to statistics presented by Eurodata TV at Series Mania. That said, redos have indirectly yielded some of Spain’s greatest ratings hits in international: RAI1’s “Braccialetti Rossi,” an Italian reversion of Spain’s hospital-set “Polseres Vermelles,” a teen friendship drama produced by Filmax and first aired on Catalonia’s TV3; France’s “Disparue,” which made over Spain’s groundbreaking missing daughter mystery “Desaparecida,” punching 20%-plus ratings on France 2 from its debut in April 2015; M6’s evergreen ratings phenomenon “Escènes de menage,” inspired by Jose Luis Moreno’s “Escenas de Matrimonio,” made up of comic sketches of marriage, charting its small miseries and even smaller joys.

In »


- John Hopewell

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Studiocanal Takes Multi-Market Home-Entertainment Rights to ‘American Gods’

12 hours ago

Studiocanal has bought exclusive home-entertainment rights to Starz’s “American Gods” for the U.K., France and Germany. The deal with producer and global distributor FremantleMedia Intl. sees Studiocanal taking physical and digital transactional home-entertainment rights to the highly anticipated series across the three major European markets where it operates.

“We’re hugely excited to be releasing ‘American Gods’ in the U.K., France and Germany. ‎The combination of the unique creative vision of Neil Gaiman with the extraordinary imagination of [showrunners and writers] Bryan Fuller and Michael Green was impossible to resist,” said John Rodden, general manager of U.K. home entertainment for Studiocanal. “We think the series will delight and amaze fans of these visionary artists and become must-see event television for a wide audience of new believers.”

The show, which is adapted from the 2001 fantasy novel by Neil Gaiman, stars Ricky Whittle and Ian McShane (both pictured) alongside Emily Browning and Pablo Schreiber.

It follows »


- Robert Mitchell

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