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Verne Gay

Here's, briefly, who I am: I've been with Newsday since 1989, and have written about virtually every show, personality, development, controversy, and network over those years. Most of this has been sheer joy. Some of it has been sheer torture. And all of it, for better or worse, adds up to one thing: I know a lot more about the wonderful business of television entertainment than even I care to admit.

'Girls' Season 4 teased in shortest trailer ever

Lena Dunham is a comedy powerhouse. She is

(Credit: AP / Invision / Dan Steinberg)

"Girls" will be back one of these days, but not soon enough to explain the baffling teaser released Friday morning. Take a look and be baffled/teased.

A few things deduced from this: It was shot May 1, Lena Dunham needs to take bike riding lessons, and bike helmets are a very good idea.  

 

 

Nelly, Ali in BET documentary on Ferguson Friday

Rapper Nelly will appear in an Aug. 22

(Credit: Getty Images / Daniel Boczarski)

Rapper Nelly — who once lived in Ferguson, Missouri, near where 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by police Aug. 9 — will be interviewed along with rapper Ali (of the Nelly-led rap group The St. Lunatics) in a BET documentary on the tragedy that airs Friday at 7. Clip above — and BET's Marc Lamont Hill is the correspondent. Here's the throughline, with details from BET: 

Hosted...

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Miley Cyrus at Sunday's VMAs (duh)

Miley Cyrus, touring on her "Bangerz" album, performs

(Credit: Chad Batka)

Get your twerk tweets tweaked, sports fans: Miley Cyrus will be at this Sunday's Video Music Awards ... MTV, which officially announced a little while ago (after first teasing the news to a few online columnists last night) said she would "attend" which of course is one of those loaded words that could mean anything. But for the fun of it, let's do assume that she will take the stage, maybe with...

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Julianne Hough joins judging panel on 'Dancing with the Stars'

Julianne Hough will return to her stamping grounds,

Julianne Hough will become the fourth — that's right, one, two, three, four — judge on a show that has long lived and prospered with just three: "Dancing with the Stars."

The official announcement was made a little while ago, and statement below. 

The move's hardly a shocker — talks between both parties had been widely reported, while Hough is just one more (former) pro on the show...

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Billy Crystal to present Robin Williams tribute at Emmys

Robin Williams, left, and Billy Crystal arrive for

(Credit: AP / Louis Lanzano)

Billy Crystal, who had (at least) a 30-year association with Robin Williams, will present his tribute on Monday's telecast of the 66th Primetime Emmys.

The program's executive producer, Don Mischer, made the announcement Wednesday. Mischer said last week that the Academy was planning to mount "a proper and meaningful tribute," which will now fall to Crystal, who has long hosted Comic Relief USA with Williams and Whoopi Goldberg. (Crystal and Williams also co-starred in "Father's Day").

Williams presented the tribute to his personal comic icon, Jonathan Winters, at last year's show. 


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Indeed, Williams' and Crystal's close ties long predate Comic Relief, which they had co-hosted with Goldberg since 1986. Like so many A-list comics, they came up through the east coast/west coast comedy club circuit in the '70s, shared prominent managers (Jack Rollins and Charles Joffe) and at times even seemed to be one another's most visible cheerleader.

After Williams' 2009 heart surgery, for example, Crystal explained to The New York Times how that might impact his comedy going forward. "I think he needs the stand-up in a different way than he did before. It's still a safe place for him to be, but he can talk about things and make himself feel better, not just everybody else."

After Williams' death was reported last week, Crystal could muster only this, in a Tweet: "No words."

Musical accompaniment for the "In Memoriam" tribute will be performed by Sara Bareilles. She had dedicated her song, "Hercules," to Williams during a recent concert, but Mischer did not say what the music choices will be.

'Saturday Night Live's' Don Pardo dead at 96: What he meant to TV

"Saturday Night Live" announcer Don Pardo on Sept.

(Credit: AP, NBC / Al Levine )

Don Pardo, whose voice graced NBC's air for 70 years and one network institution, "Saturday Night Live," for nearly 40, died Monday at his home in Tucson. He was 96.

That voice -- a sturdy, redoubtable baritone that seemed to resonate to the rafters of "SNL's" longtime home, Studio 8H -- was among the most recognized in broadcasting history. New Yorkers heard it -- frequently -- on WNBC/4 for years on the "Live at Five" newscast. The rest of the nation became familiar with Pardo's distinct delivery from game shows ("The Price Is Right"), commercials, and even the rare movie ("Radio Days") or series ("The Simpsons") much later in his career, when Pardo effectively became synonymous with how most people assumed the classic TV presenter should sound.

Pardo's voice was magic: Slightly singsong, it was both in on the joke and part of the joke -- that old-time broadcaster's delivery in service to a new-time comedy/TV franchise that was designed in part to send up the conventions of the medium from which it sprang.


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He most centrally occupied a cherished place in the history of one franchise in particular: "Saturday Night Live."

Pardo, who joined at the show's launch in 1975, was seldom seen -- a disembodied presence whose words floated out of the darkness and across the country every Saturday night. (His booth was located in the spot where Arturo Toscanni had once conducted the NBC Symphony Orchestra.) He didn't actually say "Live from New York!" -- that was left, of course, to whoever closed the opening segment -- but his ritual was just as valuable: A rundown of cast members, repertory players, guest hosts, musical guests and other in-show announcements including "Weekend Update."

To have one's name announced by Pardo on "SNL" was to have been consecrated in some sort of cosmic comic firmament -- or as former cast member Amy Poehler said in a statement posted on The Wrap.com Tuesday, "My whole life changed once Don Pardo said my name."

By all accounts a modest, self-effacing man in an immodest business, Pardo survived nonetheless in grand style, literally phoning it in. During the last few years following his retirement, he would record the intros at his Arizona home. He had a rare lifetime contract, and continued working for NBC and "SNL" well past his official retirement in 2004.

Born Dominick George Pardo in 1918 in Westfield, Massachusetts, Pardo began his career at Providence radio station WJAR in 1942, and joined NBC in 1944. He never left. He read news dispatches on the radio from the front lines during World War II and after the war was announcer for the "The Arthur Murray Party," "Colgate Comedy Hour" and "Your Show of Shows."

In 1954, he was brought in to announce "Winner Takes All," beginning a long run in game shows -- "The Price is Right" (1956-63) and briefly the original "Jeopardy!" (1964-75), hosted by Art Fleming. He also announced the assassination of President John F. Kennedy to NBC listeners in 1963.

In 2010, he was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences' Hall of Fame.

Pardo, whose wife, Kay, died in 1995, is survived by five children.

With AP

David Letterman's tribute to Robin Williams - a keeper

Robin Williams in Santa Monica, Calif. on June

(Credit: AP / Reed Saxon)

David Letterman and Robin Williams go way back, as fans of both know so well, and it was with genuine anticipation that I awaited Dave's tribute (the show was dark last night). He did not disappoint: It was warm and genuine and interesting and foremost brought to mind something that a few obits overlooked last week: Some of Williams' classic work was right here at “Late Show,” and at “Late Night” and “Tonight” as well. Dave didn't tear up — he's not a teary guy — but watching this you certainly knew that a major loss, indeed tragedy, just took place in his life too. A wonderful tribute, well worth watching.(If you are coming to this post via Newsday.com/tvzone, click on the headline to see the clip.)

Cranston, Paul, Louis-Dreyfus star in Emmy promo for Audi (and it's good)

Julia Louis-Dreyfus is known for her work on

(Credit: AP / Invision / Richard Shotwell)

Well, well, wellll...what have we here? Another sophisticated viral marketing stunt designed to get TV writers to post said stunt, thereby extending free impressions to the embedded sponsor who doubtless likes free impressions more than paid ones? Clever....verrrrry clever. This one stars Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Julia Louis-Dreyfus (who I think was just named greatest comic TV actress in history by some guy at Newsday) are all here, and...they're all good. What else? Check it out. These seven minutes of your lunch hour will not be wasted and you may be moved to run out and buy an Audi or at the very least watch the Emmys next Monday. (If you are coming to this post via Newsday.com/tvzone, click on the headline to see the clip.)

 

 

Robin Williams TV appreciation, from 'Mork & Mindy' to 'The Crazy Ones'

Actor Robin Williams on the set of "Mork

(Credit: AP / ABC)

Mork materialized after "Happy Days" had literally jumped the shark -- or the Fonz had at least -- when the idea of an alien life form kidnapping Richie Cunningham, even in a dream, became just another way to keep an ABC franchise either fresh or alive.

Mork -- or Robin Williams -- was instantly popular, and of course it occurred to ABC that it could go either one of two ways here: Add a real...

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Khloé Kardashian, Scott Disick on season finale of 'Royal Pains'

"Kourtney and Khloé Take The Hamptons" launches Sept. 14 on E! -- the fifth such "Keeping up with the Kardashians" spinoff -- so no one should be surprised at an opportunistic Kardashian sighting (or two) over next few weeks. There was a big one Thursday: At Dockers Waterside Marina and Restaurant, on Dune Road in East Quogue, where Khloé Kardashian (and Scott Disick) arrived to shoot a cameo in the Sept. 2 season finale of "Royal Pains."

The cameo was a bit of a surprise, but only a bit: Self-promotion is what the Kardashians do so well, after all, and there's a series to launch. Plus, "Pains" works hard to secure cameos of major Long Island-based celebrities. (Alas, the most major of them, Billy Joel, has resisted the show's entreaties for years.)

USA Network yesterday said of Disick's and Kardashian's scene: "Playing themselves, the two pop culture icons are having dinner at a local hot spot when they are recognized and Hank's (Mark Feuerstein) girlfriend Charlotte (recurring guest star Gillian Alexy) asks Evan (Paulo Costanzo) to make an introduction."

"Pains" is shot entirely on Long Island, although not exclusively in the Hamptons -- and in fact most of the show's scenes originate from points west, including favorite location Oheka Castle in Huntington (as well as Sands Point Preserve and Old Westbury Gardens, also classic Gold Coast locales). "Kourtney and Khloé Take The Hamptons" will revolve around the opening of a DASH boutique on Jobs Lane in Southampton. Disick has long been romantically linked to Kourtney Kardashian. The couple have two children and are expecting their third.

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