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'Dancing With the Stars' Season 18: A music review

U.S. Paralympic team snowboarded Amy Purdy and her

(Credit: ABC / Adam Taylor)

One episode into the 18th season of "Dancing With the Stars," we have a winner -- Amy Purdy -- and if she doesn't win, then we have a controversy: How could she not have won?

So much -- in other words -- for inherent drama. But what else to say about last night's re-furbished "Dancing with the Stars," which has a new co-host, Erin Andrews, and new band, headed by Ray Chew?

Quickly, Andrews:...

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Jon Stewart on Bassem Youssef: 'Heroic'

Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef speaks during an interview

(Credit: AP / Nariman El-Mofty)

If you missed last night's "60 Minutes," you missed Bob Simon's excellent piece on Bassem Youssef, an Egyptian TV star who is described as the "Jon Stewart of Egypt," in large measure because Stewart inspired Youssef's style and TV show, which is a massive hit there. 

 Naturally, another observation did not go unsaid in the piece - what Youssef does is life-threatening. This is no mere entertainment, but a sharp stick poked at the authorities who tolerate much less on any given day. As a show of support and solidarity, Stewart appeared on Youssef's show over the summer while he was filming "Rosewater" based on  the memoir of  Maziar Behari, the Canadian Iranian journalist and human rights activist who was imprisoned in Iran.

 Stewart appeared on last night's "60 Minutes Overtime" to offer a further assessment of Youssef....Well worth watching: 


Savannah Guthrie announces she is married and pregnant on 'Today'

Savannah Guthrie shows off her engagement ring on

(Credit: Matt Lauer via Twitter)

Congratulations are certainly in order -- double congratulations, in fact. "Today" co-anchor Savannah Guthrie announced at the top of this morning's edition of "Today" that she married longtime boyfriend, Mark Feldman, in her hometown of Tuscon over the weekend.

Then . . . beat, beat . . . this announcement: That she's also four months pregnant, and the couple are expecting their first child later this summer.

Big news indeed for both Guthrie and "Today," and interesting as well. Guthrie and the show in fact took about 20 minutes before announcing the pregnancy, probably an indication among all hands on deck that this was at the very least a bit awkward.

"Today" has for decades carefully stage-managed the family planning affairs of anchors, particularly women ones: The pregnancies of Jane Pauley and Katie Couric were big news, at least in the pages of places like People. "Today" wrote the book, so to speak, on linking both the sense of family off the air, and family on the air.

Guthrie, who has been engaged since May, has rewritten the ol' manual, however. By announcing both pregnancy and marriage -- though not in that order -- she and the show avoid a potentially awkward and distracting discussion, just as "Today" appears in the early stages of a long-awaited turnaround: When is, umm, Savannah getting married? Call it the "Murphy Brown" question, if you care to call it anything. Certainly times have changed and many if not most "Today" viewers could care less what Guthrie does with her private life. But . . . because the morning shows insist that you care to some degree -- hey, it's family! -- many more conservative viewers would have taken considerable umbrage to an unwed mother story line.

No, it's not 1992, and no, Dan Quayle isn't running as vice president again on the Bush 1 ticket. Still, some things never change. This happens to be one of those things.

And with that . . . congrats to both Guthrie and Feldman.  

Meanwhile, check out both big announcements.

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'The Daily Show:' #McConnelling

Jon Stewart, seen in an undated photo, had

(Credit: AP)

We like a good social-media-twitter-hashtag-viral-mashup-video-Mitch-McConnell-campaign-ad prank as much as the next guy, so imagine our joy and wonderment when Thursday night's "The Daily Show" should offer exactly that:  #McConnelling. 

 And what is #McConnelling? Glad you asked, and so is Jon Stewart who is about to take a week off and in the interim would like you to think about songs (preferably with lyrics referring to eyes) that can be tracked to a recent Mitch McConnell campaign ad. 

 He'll select the best at some point -- much sooner  than later, hopefully.  And yes, it's gone viral. Check out Thursday night's story about how this all came about -- and wonder whether the McConnell campaign team is suddenly a little bit nervous about what it, or rather Jon Stewart, hath wrought. Or whether it's thrilled with all the free media.

Really, this could cut either way...


'Louie' returns in May

Louis CK attends a game between the Knicks

(Credit: Jim McIsaac)

"Louie" -- which has been off the air for so long that nations have risen and fallen in the interim, Mariano Rivera retired from baseball, and even "The Tonight Show" got a new host -- is finally, finally...back. 

May 5. Mark the date. As fans know, Louis CK took time off to re-think the show, or maybe just because he wanted a nineteen-month vacation, and who after all wouldn't?

Smart move, Louis.

 Here are the relevant details from FX: 

After a 19-month hiatus, television’s most-critically acclaimed comedy series Louie will make its season four debut on Monday, May 5 at 10:00 PM E/P, and FX will air two all new episodes of the Emmy Award winning show back-to-back every Monday at 10:00 and 10:30 PM E/P for seven consecutive weeks through June 16.

CBS renews most of schedule, except for two big series...

Simon Baker stars as Patrick Jane in "The

(Credit: CBS )

CBS, as per recent early spring custom, has picked up most of its schedule for next fall. But conspicuously off the renewal list: "The Crazy Ones" and "The Mentalist.' No word on either, but that may mean nothing -- just that renewals will come later, or CBS is waiting to see how they run out the rest of the season before making a decision. Neither has been a particularly stellar performer this season, so who knows. "The  Big Bang Theory" got a three-year pickup yesterday. 

  In total eighteen series will be back next season, and you can go ahead and name them, but I'll save you the trouble. From the press release: 

The 18 series renewed today comprise 15.5 hours of CBS’s weekly prime-time schedule and include nine dramas, five comedies, two reality series and two news programs. The nine dramas picked up are: NCIS, television’s No.-1 drama/scripted program for the fifth consecutive year; NCIS: LOS ANGELES, the No.-2 drama for the fourth straight year; time-period winners PERSON OF INTEREST, CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION, HAWAII FIVE-0 and BLUE BLOODS; as well as CRIMINAL MINDS, ELEMENTARY and the acclaimed drama THE GOOD WIFE. The renewed comedies are 2 BROKE GIRLS, THE MILLERS, which is the No.-1 freshman comedy of the 2013-2014 season, MIKE & MOLLY, MOM and the long-running hit TWO AND A HALF MEN. In alternative programming, the Network announced pick-ups for its Emmy Award-winning reality series THE AMAZING RACE and UNDERCOVER BOSS.

Key and Peele on Showtime's 'Inside Comedy' Monday

"Key & Peele": Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele

(Credit: AP)

Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele comprise one of the funniest teams working in television today, and so this makes perfect sense: They'll be featured on David Steinberg's "Inside Comedy" on Showtime this Monday at 11 p.m. More Key & Peele news: Comedy Central just added more episodes to this season's run, and handed them a deal to produce an animated series. They'll also be on FX's "Fargo." (Seriously, they will be... .)

Garry Marshall will also be on Monday's edition (11 p.m.). I don't have a clip of Marshall, but here's one of Key and Peele.

Jimmy Fallon dusts off 'Late Night' for 'Tonight'

Host Jimmy Fallon and "Divergent" actress Shailene Woodley

(Credit: AP / Lloyd Bishop)

As Jimmy Fallon's "Tonight Show" hums along nicely -- and will in fact turn 1 month old next week -- one of the pleasures of watching has been to determine which sketches are new, and which are recycled from "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon." 

So far, almost all are recycled to some degree (as far as I can tell), like "Pros and Cons," "Thank You Notes," and so on. Just to be clear, there's certainly nothing wrong with that, and pretty much everything right: Why discard material that worked so well before, this time for many new viewers? Plus, Fallon always said he was going to do the same show. Promise kept! There were in fact many dozens of bits from the old "Late Night," a regular hothouse of comedy sketch material - well over a hundred bits. Expect many more to be reborn here.

Wednesday night is a good example: Just about everything, best I could tell, had been done before on "Late Night" (with the exception of the Putin impression): "Flaming Eyes," "Black Simon & Garfunkel," "Audience Suggestion Box"  and ..."Yahoo Answers." 

Check it out: Audra McDonald, who does this flawlessly, reprises a bit that is very amusing ..."Yahoo Answers:" 

(App readers, watch the video here: Unfortunately, this content is unavailable on mobile phones.)

Will Jay Leno return to TV? His Hall of Fame speech suggests otherwise

Jay Leno got into the Television Academy Hall of Fame on Tuesday, and when that sort of thing happens, they just don't send you a citation thanking you for "your many years of great service." Oh no: You have to actually go to a dinner and give a speech. You have to work for the thing. Leno gave his speech, and it was gracious and in parts interesting, even a bit reflective. There's a tempus fugit quality to this that indicates Jay really, truly has moved on, not just from "Tonight," but from television altogether. Check this out and wonder -- as I did -- whether this is Jay essentially saying he is done with TV forever. 

Of additional interest, he directs some comments to Rupert Murdoch in the audience; Fox, of course, has been rumored as Jay's next stop. But that is probably not going to happen, nor is CNN, nor (I suspect) is anyplace else.  (Why, you ask, is Murdoch even attending a rubber chicken dinner? Does he perhaps have his eye on Jay...?) 

Naturally, talk show hosts who have spent their lives in front of the camera always reserve the right to change their minds. The tab shows gathered outside this speech the other night and pryed some additional news out of Jay -- that he's certainly going on "Late Show with David  Letterman." I do in fact expect that to happen. But a regular TV gig again? Doubtful ... or maybe Jay just has to ask himself the chilling rhetorical question, "Do you really want to become Billy Crystal's character in "Mr. Saturday Night?' "  


NBC has a good new drama ('Crisis')

While on a school field trip, a bus

(Credit: Vivian Zink / NBC)

NBC has a good new drama: How many times have you read those words anywhere over the last year? Even though "The Blacklist" was certainly good, and "Hannibal" has emerged as the real deal, and -- hey! -- a lot of people even liked the launch of "Believe" last Sunday (myself included), the network has been scratching to get back in the elite drama game, with mixed results.

But Sunday has a...

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