News, scoops, reviews and more from TV land.
And on this fine frigid morning, something to thaw out with: HBO Sunday delivered this gift to "Game of Thrones'" fans, an extended preview that offers what seems to be a fast-cut of the fourth season. It's not, but there is that illusion. Certainly worth the time, for "Thrones" is TV's best series, and that's a fact.
Newsday app readers, please go to newsday.com/tvzone to watch.
On the heels of accusing "The Muppets Movie" of brainwashing children into far-left ideology, Fox Business today denounced the new animated film "The Lego Movie" for pushing an "anti-business" message.
Charles Payne, on the Fox Business show "Varney & Company," suggested that the movie's character of Lord Business, a tyrranical CEO voiced by Will Ferrell, resembles Mitt Romney. Though...Read more »
In the dead of night, or at least very late on a Friday, Fox officially ended the decade-long reign of Simon Cowell: "The X Factor" just got axed.
Fox and Cowell immediately classified the end as business-as-usual: He has to return to the U.K. version, and the implication from Fox's statement is that "X" was only intended to last three seasons.
But....well, you know the truth.
Simon: "I've had a fantastic time over the last 12 years, both on THE X FACTOR and AMERICAN IDOL. And apart from being lucky enough to find some amazing talent on the shows, I have always had an incredible welcome from the American public (most of the time!),” said Simon Cowell. “Last year, for a number of reasons, I had to make a decision to return to the U.K. version of ‘The X Factor’ in 2014. So for now, I’m back to the U.K. and I want to thank FOX for being an incredible partner and I also want to thank everybody who has supported my shows. America, I’ll see you soon!”
Kevin Reilly, Fox Entertainment chief: To all of us at FOX, Simon is more than one of the most prolific TV personalities of our time --he’s part of our family. A consummate showman and partner, there’s no one more passionate or creative than Simon, and we feel so fortunate to have enjoyed such a wonderful, collaborative relationship with him over the past 12 years,” said Kevin Reilly, Chairman of Entertainment, Fox Broadcasting Company. “Unfortunately, there is no X FACTOR USA without Simon Cowell, but we understand and support his decision to focus on the international formats and on the next phase of his personal life. We wish him the very best, and it’s our sincere hope that we work together again soon.”
David Letterman spoke with two charter members of history's greatest band, and the full interview will air Sunday night on the CBS's absolutely-must-watch special, "The Beatles: The Night that Changed America - A Grammy Salute," from the Ed Sullivan Theater (8 p.m.).
Those wonderful and hard-working New York-based CBS public relations pros, Kim Izzo-Emmet, and Kate Fisher (oh, yes, and Tiffany Smith-Anoa’i on the west coast), have gone ahead and done all my work for me by transcribing some of the comments.
And those are here...followed by the clips
(Newsday app readers please head to Newsday.com/tvzone to watch...)
As Letterman, McCartney and Starr walked onto the stage of the theater where they made their historic first appearance, Starr recalled the excitement he felt then, which he is feeling again with the upcoming anniversary. “No, I was just so excited,” Starr said. “I mean, even coming back yesterday… I’ve been back a hundred times, I’ve done the show with you, but it’s like, oh, I’m getting involved in all the excitement of it all then. You know, it’s not like we go around saying, ‘Oh, that day.’ Now, I’m here, I’m looking out the window, I’m in the plaza and all the kids were down there. And now we’re back on the stage again…” Starr’s memory of the Ed Sullivan Theater was that it was “four times bigger than this,” and Letterman pointed out that “there was another balcony. There was a third level of about 150 more seats. So it wasn’t that many more, but enough to make a difference.” “
It’s like going back to your old school, isn’t it?” McCartney said. “Yeah, well, that’s right, yeah,” Letterman said. “It looks little now,” McCartney commented. “You thought it was huge…” Also during the interview, McCartney recounted a story to Letterman about the band’s 1965 “Ed Sullivan Show” appearance, their fourth and final live appearance on the broadcast, featuring his solo performance of the classic, “Yesterday.” “So, it was decided that I would do ‘Yesterday,’” McCartney said. “But I’d never worked without the band, so now I’m now going to be working solo on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show.’ So I agreed to do it, so I’m standing there ready to go on, never having worked without the band, a little bit nervous, and there were curtains, and there’s a Teamster on the inside of the curtain so they won’t catch. So I’m standing there all prepared with my guitar ready to go on, and he says, ‘Are you nervous?’ I said, ‘No, not really,’ lying. He says, ‘You should be, there’s 73 million people watching!’”
Oh sure, Jay Leno's final "Tonight Show" was good -- funny, brisk, lively. Billy Crystal and Garth Brooks were excellent as guests, for they clearly wanted to be there and made the best of an a opportunity that yielded little in terms of professional accomplishment but everything in terms of a personal one, which is rare in show business.
But Leno saved his best for last -- specifically the last eight minutes of this last show when he choked up, pulled the full frame of his body up to his chin in a vain effort to control his emotions -- fleetingly evoking a human-sized Cabbage Patch doll -- and then let the tears fall.
It was a moment, or several of them, that we've never seen of Leno, as though a curtain came up to reveal the real man. Gratifyingly, it was the real man we have always suspected Leno to be.
He thanked his viewers -- didn't call them "fans" -- then he moved on to his family. His mother died early in his run, then his father, and a year after that, his brother, Patrick. "I was pretty much without family," he said, and then -- referring to 200-or-so people who have helped him run this machine called "The Tonight Show" for the past 22 years said, "and the folks here became my family."
For good measure, he added proudly that "Tonight Show" was always a "union shop . . ." (That may well have been a veiled rebuke to the Writer's Guild, which slammed him years ago for writing his monologues during one of the writers' strike, or for something like that. But so what? It was his last show. Jay got in the last word.)
What was so terrific about these last few seconds was the simple fact that Leno -- finally stripped down bare to the emotional studs so to speak, with nothing separating the real person from the millions who have supported him for decades -- did not revert to form and did not hide. He spoke from a heart we've only rarely seen glimpses of over these years, even wrung raw emotion from a heart we knew was there, but hardly ever saw.
And what we saw, in the end, was something -- someone -- both generous and fundamentally decent. The real Jay Leno, ladies and gentlemen.
It was the perfect way to end because it confirmed what everyone -- certainly his supporters if not his detractors -- have suspected all along. Here it is again.
David Letterman's "Late Show" marquee at West 54th Street and Broadway underwent a major renovation Thursday — for this is what the historic venue looked like exactly fifty years ago . . .
Here's what CBS is saying about this . . .
This retro look, which will feature the exact wording that was posted for “The Ed Sullivan Show” on Feb. 9, 1964, will cover the current Late Show with David Letterman marquee through the weekend in conjunction with CBS’s upcoming Beatles tribute, The Beatles: The Night That Changes America — A Grammy Salute, (Special airs Sunday night, the anniversary.)
It is strange and mysterious and odd and weird and...altogether fitting that Jay Leno's last day at "The Tonight Show" is also Michael J. Fox's last day at NBC (if you're just catching up, "The Michael J. Fox Show" has been canceled and remaining episodes will be burned off elsewhere...)
And this all means "what?"
With your forbearance, let me take a stab at that question: What it means...Read more »
"The Michael J. Fox Show," certainly among the more anticipated series of the 2013-14 season given that name in the title, has been canceled by NBC, according to reports in Variety and the Hollywood Reporter.
The show -- starring a beloved TV figure who will endure no significant harm to reputation or stature despite this failure -- struggled almost from the opening bell. In recent weeks, the sitcom about a New York TV anchor with Parkinson's (yes, of course, Fox) who returns to work, mustered barely two or even three million viewers in the first viewing.
Unclear at this moment whether the show will complete its full season run, although networks have been known to burn off episodes in the summer.
"The Walking Dead" is back for the second half of its fourth season Sunday. Here, without further babble, is my review. Bottom line: I still love this show, rolling zombie heads and all.
"The Walking Dead," AMC, Sunday, 9 p.m.
What it's about: In the wake of the epic prison battle between "The Governor's" (David Morrissey) forces and those loosely led by Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), there is only death and chaos. The survivors begin to scatter as the "walkers" overrun the prison, now completely abandoned. Nothing -- in other words -- is the same. Battered Rick and son Carl (Chandler Riggs) stumble away to who-knows-what-or-where. Michonne (Danai Gurira) and her trusty katana hack their way through the chaos, too. But what remains of the others -- Glenn (Steven Yuen) or of Maggie (Lauren Cohan) or Daryl (Norman Reedus) or Lilly (Audrey Marie Anderson) or ANYONE? All questions awaiting answers as the second half of the fourth season begins Sunday.
My say: In the 2006 novel by Cormac McCarthy, "The Road" -- later made into the movie of the same name with Viggo Mortensen -- a man and his son pick their perilous way through a post-apocalyptic landscape that is (initially) sculpted only with questions and no answers. That's your scene-setter for Sunday night, too, and quite possibly the balance of the season: Down that long, muddy road where Rick and Carl struggle is most certainly danger -- but what lies at the end?
AMC has said "The Walking Dead" could go on for years and years, so that metaphoric highway now extends to a vanishing point on the horizon. But that tension of not knowing what lies around the next corner, or behind that closed door, or in the shadow of the dark woods is what has always animated "Dead" at its best.
Yet the "not knowing" turns Sunday night into a joy ride of real terror. For, like the survivors, we are all now in an unknown world surrounded (paradoxically) by familiar things -- white picket fences, cans of pudding, spacious homes with spacious, airy porches.
(Carl looks on in joy and wonderment at a wide-screen TV alongside a huge stack of DVDs, then his face clouds over: Oh, right.)
Sunday is brutal, but is also another reset that allows just the briefest light of humor and humanity to penetrate the gloom. And it is terrific.
Bottom line: "Dead" brazenly reinvents itself once again, and the result will have you crawl under the living room couch for safety. (Ah, yes, couches, thank goodness for those.)
In a blockbuster deal that stands to reorder primetime television, CBS has won bidding rights to air eight NFL Thursday night games next fall. The NFL -- as NBC has so clearly established -- has been hugely successful in primetime, indeed TV's single most successful ongoing program. CBS -- already strong, indeed dominant in primetime -- now stands to score as well.
The release: CBS will air eight early-season games that also will be simulcast on NFL Network. NFL Network will also televise eight late-season games in the run-up to the playoffs. The mix of games will include 14 on Thursday nights and two late-season games on Saturday. The full slate of 16 regular-season games will be produced by CBS with its lead broadcasters and production team, including Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, on all Thursday night games. In a new twist, NFL Network hosts and analysts will be featured in the pregame, halftime and postgame shows along with CBS Sports announcers. The agreement is for the 2014 season with an additional year at the NFL’s option.
The deal marks the return of regularly scheduled NFL games to a weeknight primetime schedule for the first time since 2006, when ABC ceded its Monday night franchise to ESPN. The NFL Network has carried the Thursday night games, presumably with some success, but the NFL Network is no CBS, of course.
Meanwhile, as CBS's competitors surely know, this is a major game-changer, to use the old cliche. Thursday nights have been owned by CBS for many years now -- certainly a factor that went into the NFL's thinking -- and this deal simply makes the network more omnipotent. The regularly scheduled series, such as "The Big Bang Theory" -- TV's top comedy -- and "Elementary" will simply start their seasons later, most likely in November, when the games are over, but possibly even in the new year. Overall, there doesn't appear to be any downside for the network.