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NBC News president supports embattled David Gregory in memo

A drop in ratings at "Meet the Press"

(Credit: NBC / Rob Kim)

Poor "Meet the Press" host David Gregory: Either the wolves are circling or the vultures, but either way, he has had a very bad couple of weeks. So much so that NBC News chief Deborah Turness took the highly unusual, and vaguely ominous, step Thursday morning of releasing an internal memo to the press stating her unconditional support for Gregory, while labeling some of his recent press flack "ludicrous."...

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'60 Minutes' Bob Simon: Reflections on a remarkable career

Bob Simon was awarded the Overseas Press Club's

(Credit: CBS PHOTO by John Paul Filo)

"60 Minutes" correspondent Bob Simon will get the Overseas Press Club's President's Award on Thursday night. That's one of the highest distinctions in journalism -- bestowed on those who have changed the course of journalism, as if changing the course of a river. (Last year's recipient was Tom Brokaw; Walter Cronkite was also one.)

The OPC typically celebrates the accomplishments of reporters...

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Major exit in CW cult hit, 'Arrow,' and the name is ...

Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen in "Arrow" on

(Credit: The CW)

"Arrow," just two seasons old, has been a durable presence for The CW — a cult hit that's managed to hold and engage fans, even though one key reason for that departed last night.

Susanna Thompson's Moira Queen was dispatched in the closing minutes. Even though we don't usually pay close attention to all the comings and goings on prime-time series — you'd need a scorecard, not a column for...

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VH1's 'Best Week Ever' canceled

"Best Week Ever,"  the long-running VH1 satire on pop culture, is over. The network pulled the plug earlier Wednesday. While this may be the real endpoint, "BWE" is a bit of a cat. It was canceled once before, then renewed. So . . . who knows. But for now, canceled.

A statement posted on Deadline, which (I believe) first reported this, says:

“'Best Week Ever' was a pioneer in pop...

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Andy Samberg returns to 'SNL'... as host

Actor Andy Samberg speaks during Nickelodeon's 27th annual

(Credit: Getty Images / Kevin Winter)

And now, the final three hosts of the 39th season of "Saturday Night Live:" Andrew Garfield, Charlize Theron and ... Andy Samberg. 

Details: Garfield (May 3) makes his first appearance in a hosting role, a day after "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" arrives in theaters; he's on board with Coldplay.

Next is Theron, who's in "A Million Ways to Die," with Seth MacFarlane; with music guest the Black Keys. And Samberg: He closes out the year on May 17. Musical guest is St. Vincent, who is making her debut.

Amazon Prime scores HBO series including 'The Sopranos'

A deal between Amazon Prime and HBO will

(Credit: HBO)

In a deal that has "significant" if not quite "groundbreaking" plastered all over it, Amazon Prime and HBO Tuesday morning announced a pact that will bring some HBO classics over to the new-and-growing Amazon subscription service.

"The Sopranos" is among them.

How this will impact already-existing HBO subscribers -- and HBO Go subscribers -- can be summarized in one word: Zilch. How it will impact Amazon Prime and Netflix is another matter altogether.


MORE: Greatest TV characters | Reality TV | TV Zone blog | TV Listings


In its successful drive to gain parity with Netflix, Amazon Prime has furiously added content, and particularly content that appears to be driving the growth of these newly empowered services: TV. HBO is unquestionably the great white whale, however. Get these great series and get the most prized content on TV.

Here's what Amazon Prime customers will see starting May 21, and you will note that HBO is not giving away the entire store, so to speak. Many series do appear excluded, like "Entourage" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm," but that doesn't necessarily mean they won't be folded into this later:

The collection includes award-winning shows such as "The Sopranos," "Six Feet Under," "The Wire," "Big Love," "Deadwood," "Eastbound & Down," "Family Tree," "Enlightened," "Treme," early seasons of "Boardwalk Empire" and "True Blood," as well as miniseries like "Band of Brothers," "John Adams" and more. Previous seasons of other HBO shows, such as "Girls," "The Newsroom" and "Veep" will become available over the course of the multiyear agreement, approximately three years after airing on HBO. The first wave of content will arrive on Prime Instant Video May 21. This is the first time that HBO programming has been licensed to an online-only subscription streaming service. This programming will remain on all HBO platforms.

Colbert on 'Late Show:' Once applied for job here; had 'Top Ten'

Who doesn't have a "Top Ten" list? Certainly not Stephen Colbert, who appeared on "Late Show with David Letterman" last night to reveal a.) He had once applied for a job here; and b.) Had even offered a "Top Ten" list as inducement. And like everyone else in the world, Colbert had trouble even getting a call-back. The curious ways of fate.

A clip featuring the next host.

Stephen Colbert on 'Late Show'; First look

David Letterman, left, with Stephen Colbert of "The

(Credit: AP / Worldwide Pants Inc.)

How will the once and future king of "Late Show," Stephen Colbert, appear when he arrives at this exalted place sometime in 2015? We get a hint tonight, when he appears on "Late Show with David Letterman" as . . . himself. And Himself doesn't look a whole lot different from his Alter Ego Self: Same voice, same tie, same wicked-fast wit.

Check out this clip that was just released.

 

Brian Williams raps 'Gin and Juice' on 'Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon'

Brian Williams, a rappin', rhymin' anchorman.

(Credit: AP / Evan Agostini)

"Gin and Juice." Brian Williams. NBC News. Hip-hop.

Words, ideas, even a collective visual package that doesn't quite fit. But check it out, yo: a rappin', rhymin' anchorman on Monday night's "Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," when Williams made his first appearance on this new edition of the classic, preceded by another clever fast-cut of countless Williams sound bites that somehow, miraculously, are all merged into one two-minute (or so) not-bad-at-all version of the old Snoop Dogg song. Williams -- who really has no hand in any of this -- was "rap"-sodized by Fallon on "Late Night," too.

I suspect this will go viral, if it has not already.

Warning: Language may be offensive to some.

(App users, watch the video here: http://nwsdy.li/1hbIJgP)

'Fargo' on FX is pretty good, but not 1996 'Fargo' good

Billy Bob Thornton arrives at the Fox All-Star

(Credit: AP / Richard Shotwell / Invision)

FX's much much anticipated "Fargo" arrives Tuesday at 10 p.m. our time and I'm not quite sure what time in Minnesota.  But you probably want to know the basics besides times, yaa -- can William H. Macy ever possibly be bettered? Is there someone out there who even remotely approaches Frances McDormand in terms of sheer Coen-esque perfection? (Or Peter Stormare? Or Buscemi? Of the latter, of course not.)  This series, as you may already know, is not a remake whatsoever, but "homage."

Newsday's review:

"Fargo," FX, Tuesday, 10

What it's about: The arctic wind blows down over Bemidji, Minn. with a killing numbness. The immensity of whiteness left in its wake seems to absorb all living things -- except for hitman, Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) who has a job to do. A minor car accident lands him in the local emergency room. There he meets Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman), an insurance salesman tending to a swollen nose caused by the local bully. Lorne wonders if he'd like the bully dead? One thing leads to another and before long, death stalks Bemidji. This 10-part series from Joel and Ethan Coen is billed as an "homage" to their '96 film classic.

My say: Just to be perfectly clear, "Fargo" is fictional. The movie was fictional, too, so don't be thrown by the (by now) classic opening line on-screen that reads "...Out of respect for the dead, the rest has been told exactly as it occurred."

That's bull -- or, more kindly, that's homage to the original (which also had the message, even though the movie was broadly based on a "true story" or stories). But also a gimmick, a tease, and a way to get you in the right frame of mind for what is to come.

And "what is to come" is what came in the 1996 film -- all that gentle, buttery "Minnesota Nice" leads directly into sudden, percussive violence. Peter Stormare, as the ruthless butcher Gaear Grimsrud, had the profoundly dead eyes in the film. Thornton as Malvo has them here.

The Coens have even found another Margie (Oscar winner Frances McDormand in the film): She is Molly Solverson -- played by relative newcomer, Allison Tolman, who is excellent as the cop five times smarter than the Barney Fifes who surround her.

Since comparisons are inevitable, let's go ahead and make more: "Fargo," the series, is funnier than the film, more bleakly so. The Coens, of course, got brilliant performances out of their film actors and they do here as well -- Thornton especially, who is a magnificent sociopath-monster. Freeman -- a superstar already -- simply reminds everyone again how good he is.

But the film was a masterpiece of storytelling economy that didn't spill over into side-stories, a few of which are patently ridiculous in the series (four episodes were provided for review). The film's essential weirdness felt real. The TV series' weirdness is more often just comical (or disgusting. One word: Spiders.)

Still, there are many memorable Coen-esque touches - the series was co-written by Noah Hawley - that will stay with you long after you've finished watching. Some of them even seem reminiscent of non-Coen films: The two bone-headed brothers, or "wolves," for example, seem to come straight out of "Nebraska." Then you realize: A film like "Nebraska," and so many others, were directly influenced by the Coens.  

  Meanwhile, be sure to check out the opening of the fourth episode. A long-standing "Fargo" mystery is solved...Whatever happened to the money by the fence...?

Bottom line: If you love the movie, you should love this, but ...

Grade: B+

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