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MSNBC Hits Ratings Milestone, Fox News Drops to Third Place for First Time in 17 Years

25 minutes ago

For the first time in its history, MSNBC ranked number one in both total viewers and the key adults 25-54 demographic during primetime for a full week among the big three cable news networks.

For the week of May 15, the network averaged 2.44 million viewers with 611,000 in the key demo from 8 p.m.-11 p.m., beating both Fox News and CNN for the week. Four MSNBC programs were number one for the week in total viewers in their respective time periods: “The Rachel Maddow Show,” “Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell”, “The 11th Hour” and the midnight re-air of “The Rachel Maddow Show.” Maddow had the top ranked non-sports program in all of cable for the week.

Fox News ranked number three in primetime in the key demographic for five straight days with 497,000 viewers, the longest streak at number three the network has had in that measure in 17 years, since June 2000. CNN finished second in the demo »

- Joe Otterson

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Jana Winograde Joins Showtime as President of Business Operations

3 hours ago

Jana Winograde has joined Showtime Networks as president of business operations. She will oversee Showtime’s production, program operations and business affairs teams, and lead the financial and business strategy relating to the acquisition, development and distribution of content.

Winograde joins the company from ABC Entertainment, where she was most recently executive VP, head of business operations.

In her new role, she will report to David Nevins, president and CEO of Showtime Networks.

“Jana is a tremendous addition to our leadership team, bringing an impeccable reputation as one of the industry’s most thoughtful business executives and dealmakers,” Nevins said. “She is perfectly suited to help broaden the ongoing evolution of Showtime – from its roots in domestic premium cable into a dynamic, global content company, with revenue sources across a broad array of worldwide platforms.”

Winograde is a 23-year veteran of ABC. As head of business operations, she oversaw the network’s business endeavors, including »

- Daniel Holloway

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Leslie Moonves Extends CBS Corp. Contract Through June 2021

3 hours ago

Leslie Moonves has set a two-year extension of his contract that will keep him at the helm of CBS Corp. as chairman-ceo through June 30, 2021.

The extension comes as no surprise. Moonves has been with CBS since 1995 and has served as president and CEO since 2006, when CBS and Viacom were split into separate companies by controlling shareholder Sumner Redstone. The company, by any measure, has thrived on his watch.

CBS Corp. said the deal calls for Moonves’ base salary of $3.5 million to remain the same during the extension. Last year, Moonves’ ranked among the highest-paid CEOs of a public company with a compensation package of $69.6 million, most of it from stock grants and a $32 million cash bonus.

As with his previous contract that was to have expired in 2019, the extension stipulates that he will be become a senior advisor to CBS Corp. for five years after he steps down as CEO, and »

- Cynthia Littleton

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Weinstein Company Acquires Oliver Stone TV Series ‘Guantanamo’

4 hours ago

The Weinstein Company has acquired the Oliver Stone-Daniel Voll series “Guantanamo,” the company announced Monday.

The project marks Stone’s first time as a director in scripted television. The show, created by Voll, focuses on the detainees held in the controversial prison, and those who defend and condemn them.  Alexandra Milchan will produce with Weinstein Television. Stone plans to direct all of Season 1 with Voll as showrunner.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to work with Oliver,” Weinstein Company co-chair Harvey Weinstein said. “I’m a longtime fan and he’s one of our greatest filmmakers of all time. This is explosive material that will work from all sides. Daniel Voll’s incredible resume will make this amazing collaboration between him and Oliver both newsworthy and super watchable.”

The Guantanamo Bay detention camp was opened after the September 11 attacks to interrogate and imprison suspects in the war on terror. Various »

- Joe Otterson

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TV Ratings: Billboard Music Awards Slip in Key Demo From Last Year (Updated)

5 hours ago

Updated, 11:00 a.m. Pt: The final Nielsen numbers have come in, with the Billboard Music Awards averaging a 2.6 rating in adults 18-49 and 8.7 million viewers. Compared to last year (3.1, 9.6 million), that is a decline of approximately 16% in the key demo and 9% in total viewers.


The Billboard Music Awards were down in the key demo compared to last year, according to Nielsen data.

The awards show, which aired on ABC, initially averaged a 2.3 rating and 7.7 million viewers, but ticked up to a 2.6 and 8.7 million viewers, making it easily the top-rated program of the night on broadcast. It was down 16% in the key demo and 9% in total viewers compared to last year’s ceremony (3.1 and 9.6 million).

Earlier in the night on ABC, the network aired a new episode of “America’s Funniest Home Videos” (1.1, 5.4 million), which was even with its last original airing.

NBC aired a two-hour installment of “Dateline NBC” (0.9, 4.8 million) from 7-9 p.m »

- Joe Otterson

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‘Fleabag’ Creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge on Guinea Pigs, Finding Olivia Colman’s Evil Side, and a Potential Season 2

7 hours ago

When Phoebe Waller-Bridge stopped by Variety’s offices earlier this month, she cautioned me against asking her too many definite questions about Season 2. Although the creator, writer, and star of “Fleabag” had already hinted at a Season 2 in previous interviews, “it’s not actually officially announced.” But that hasn’t stopped Waller-Bridge from overflowing with tons of ideas about it. The effusive, hilarious writer and actor got so excited sharing ideas that she accidentally showed me an iPhone photo of, and I quote, “a friend’s tit.”

All part of a day’s work for Waller-Bridge. “Fleabag” is a six-part half-hour comedy series from Amazon Studios about a woman so charmingly and scathingly funny that it takes several episodes before you begin to realize just how much has gone wrong for her — her relationships, her family, her best friend, and now, her livelihood, too. The series is a twisted, meta journey into the unnamed protagonist’s mind »

- Sonia Saraiya

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At Dreary, Drake-Dominated Billboard Music Awards, Cher and Lorde Give Us Something to ‘Believe’ In

7 hours ago

The mononym queens had it at Sunday night’s Billboard Music Awards. The two best reasons to tune in to an otherwise mostly dreary three-hour ABC telecast were striking performances by generational bookends Lorde and Cher, one of whom dressed like a 71-year woman, and the other of whom dressed like a 20-year-old. (You know where this is going…)

Drake also made a case for dudes with single names doing okay for themselves by winning 13 of the strictly charts-based trophies in one evening, breaking Adele’s record. As television impact goes, though, this wasn’t really his night. His live performance took place down the street from the hosting T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas at the neighboring Bellagio, where he did “Gylachester” from inside the fountain — an idea that must’ve sounded cool when he didn’t realize he’d be getting lost amid a sea of spray jets and fireworks. You »

- Chris Willman

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ITV, Masterpiece Release First Look Clip of ‘Victoria’ Season 2

8 hours ago

ITV and PBS’ Masterpiece have released a first-look clip of the second season of their hit historical drama “Victoria.” The short clip, released Monday to mark Victoria Day, the anniversary of the British monarch’s birth, sees stars Jenna Coleman and Tom Hughes return to their roles as Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

The clip shows the baptism of Victoria and Albert’s first child, Victoria Adelaide Mary Louisa, in February 1841. It can be seen here:

The eight-part second season of “Victoria,” which is still in production, is once again written and executive produced by the show’s creator, Daisy Goodwin, and sees the story picking up six weeks on from the end of the first season. It follows the young monarch as a working mother, learning to balance her responsibilities as both parent and queen, while Albert continues to struggle to find a role for himself alongside his powerful wife.

Diana Rigg »

- Robert Mitchell

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Komixx Entertainment Options Young-Adult Spy Novel Series ‘Cherub’

9 hours ago

Independent film and TV producer Komixx Entertainment has optioned worldwide screen rights to the “Cherub” series of young adult spy novels. The London-based production company, which has offices in L.A. and Australia and studio facilities in Northern England, will develop a drama series based on the 18-book series.

Created by British author Robert Muchamore, the “Cherub” books are a young-adult thriller series, first published in 2004, which have sold more than 10 million copies worldwide and been translated into 25 languages. They follow the undercover missions of a team of teenage secret agents who work for a special division of the British Security Service known as “Cherub,” operating under the radar of adults.

“‘Cherub’ stands alone as an internationally successful and globally loved series,” said Andrew Cole-Bulgin, group chief creative officer and head of film and TV for Komixx Entertainment. “It’s a fantastic opportunity to take on an exciting and gritty thriller series that has already been breaking »

- Robert Mitchell

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Hugh Grant Returns to British TV for First Time in Nearly 25 Years

11 hours ago

Hugh Grant is set to play a disgraced British politician in true-story drama “A Very English Scandal,” the BBC said Monday. The project will reunite Grant with director Stephen Frears following the actor’s acclaimed performance in last year’s “Florence Foster Jenkins,” which earned him Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations for best supporting actor.

In “A Very English Scandal,” Grant will play Jeremy Thorpe, the first British politician in modern times to stand trial for murder. In 1979, Thorpe, then leader of the Liberal party and the youngest leader of any British political party in a hundred years, was accused of conspiring to murder his ex-lover, Norman Scott. The film is based on a book by British journalist John Preston.

The three-part drama for flagship channel BBC One marks Grant’s return to British television for the first time in nearly 25 years, when he starred in “The Changeling,” an episode of the BBC’s anthology drama series »

- Robert Mitchell

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TV Review: David Lynch’s ‘Twin Peaks: The Return’

16 hours ago

The stature of “Twin Peaks,” David Lynch’s two-season surreal murder mystery that ran on ABC in the early ‘90s, is such that its modern-day reboot almost defies interpretation. Showtime’s “Twin Peaks: The Return” picks up the story of Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) and Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) 25 years later, and attempts to be an homage, a sequel, and a standalone story. The unique nature of this revival is overshadowed by the fact that the show itself was always a surprising, weird gem in the otherwise predictable stable of broadcast television programming. It’s hard to know whether it is more surprising that “Twin Peaks” ever existed or caught in the first place, or that 27 years after its cancellation, it has returned on premium cable with so much of the original cast and crew preserved. Lynch brought auteur-ish filmmaking to television, which elevated the medium for many viewers. Now »

- Sonia Saraiya

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‘SNL’ Cast Departures: A Winning Season Still Has Its Challenges

17 hours ago

Alec Baldwin has loomed so large over the breakout season “Saturday Night Live” just concluded that he makes you almost forget about the cast. But it’s the strength of Lorne Michaels’ core unit that typically dictates the vitality of this show over its four-plus decades on the air.

A trio of cast departures in recent days is a reminder that if and when Donald Trump leaves the headlines–and that may not be for quite a while–“SNL” is going to be judged in ways Baldwin can’t obscure if he’s not needed to play the president. The show has never been stronger, and yet there’s lots of new questions as to who Michaels can count on to keep his franchise healthy for the future.

Bobby Moynihan, Vanessa Bayer and Sasheer Zamata all signaled their exits over the past week. It’s entirely possible more offseason departures could yet yet be announced, though »

- Andrew Wallenstein

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‘The Leftovers’ Recap: Laurie Garvey and the Great Unknown

19 hours ago

This post is a recap of the May 21 episode of “The Leftovers,” “Certified.” Do not read if you haven’t seen the episode.

If you’re plugged into television or have teenagers in your life, you may be aware of an ongoing conversation around the Netflix show “13 Reasons Why,” which is a kind of cautionary tale and kind of revenge-fantasy procedural about bullying, sexual assault, and suicide. One of the primary reasons the show is criticized is because you see exactly how the protagonist kills herself, if you watch through to the season finale. It’s a little gory and rather disturbing, and because it is so realistic it’s touched a nerve for teens, parents and educators.

I was thinking of that controversy while watching this week’s “The Leftovers,” “Certified,” because of how similar and how different the subject material is. Of course there are few comparison points between a teen melodrama and whatever genre »

- Sonia Saraiya

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