News, scoops, reviews and more from TV land.
And just like that, we have a pair of frontrunners in the forthcoming season of "Dancing With the Stars," starting March 17: Olympic skating champs Meryl Davis and Charlie White have joined the cast. Of course, the only real question here is not whether they will be at the top of the leader board by season's end -- but which one will (likely) prevail? (They will be partnered with Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Sharna Burgess, respectively.)
And this news: Billy Dee Williams (Emma Slater) will be on the show, and so will the 55-year-old Drew Carey (Cheryl Burke). Also: Sean Avery (Karina Smirnoff), formerly of the Rangers.
And more news still: Amy Purdy (Derek Hough), a snowboarding "paralympian" who according to ABC lost her legs to meningitis when she was 19, will be here, too. Expect her to be around for the long haul, especially with Hough along for this ride.
Here's the rest:
James Maslow (Peta Murgatroyd): The 23-year-old star of Nickelodeon's "Big Time Rush" has been chosen in an obvious attempt to "youth up" this very old show -- one of the oldest, in terms of audience, on the air, which has made "DWTS" a "sales problem" for ABC. Maslow to the rescue!
Cody Simpson (Witney Carson): Speaking of which ... another teen heartthrob joins; will do well because ABC will make certain he will. No early exit for Simpson, 17, who should bring in some boppers, who will make the audience (theoretically) a little bit younger.
NeNe Leakes (Tony Dovolani): This Housewife has been reported as a potential cast member almost before she was a "Real Housewives of Atlanta" star. (Not really, but ....)
Diana Nyad (Henry Byalikov): The swimming champ ... Smart hire here. Nyad, 64, is one of those people -- an indomitable force, who should have a backstory (not to mention backstroke) that will keep the show/judges rattling on for weeks.
Danica McKellar (Valentin Chmerkovskiy): Winnie from "The Wonder Years." She's 39.
Candace Cameron Bure (Mark Ballas): D.J. Tanner, "Full House." Another long-rumored addition. She's 37.
Bottom line: Interesting cast, with no obvious weak links, unless Carey would qualify (he does). With this cast, "DWTS" is not merely covering all of its demographic bases, but noticeably shifting them to a younger base. Will it work? (Do you know a teen who has ever watched "DWTS"? Then I think you have your answer.) This cast at least stands the chance of proving the exception. Avery, 33, a famed enforcer, will struggle to get the audience vote -- that's just how this audience swings, while Williams -- at the age of 76 -- has that going against him, too. Nyad's an athlete; should help. Leakes, 43, has notoriety and reality fame; should also help. But obviously all eyes will be on Davis, 27, and White, 26. Just to point out what's so obvious, they're the ones to beat.
An interesting first, and potentially helpful first for those away from a TV set Sunday - ABC will stream the Oscars ceremony and preshow this Sunday on "Watch ABC." And yes, one does need to be a subscriber to one of the participating cable providers (which include Optimum, Verizon FiOS, and AT&T U-Verse.) The news release:
The Oscars preshow and full awards telecast will stream...Read more »
Elizabeth Vargas spoke in a taped segment with George Stephanopoulos that aired on Friday morning's "Good Morning America." It's quite good and worth watching, although I'm sure a few viewers gulped hard, looked in the mirror and said to themselves afterward..."Um, what about me?"
Vargas deserves a lot of credit for doing this -- it took guts, and is obviously an embarrassing subject. She gets remarkably confessional and even offers a general solution for those looking to break the habit.
What's missing are perhaps a few essential details: Exactly how much and how often. (She says on some occasion "up to four glasses" of wine.) Plus, did she actually become drunk, and what sort of behavioral changes ensued?
Also, most people can't afford rehab -- solutions for them? And this: The media is constantly telling viewers about the "health benefits" of wine -- the message, in other words, remains very much mixed.
Nevertheless, good for Vargas.
If you happen to be someone who writes about TV for a living, there is one question that almost certainly will come up in the course of casual conversation: Why isn't there a DVD collection of the old ABC "Batman" series? Invariably, you must answer: "Honestly, friend, I don't know why there is not a DVD set of the 1966 ABC 'Batman' series starring Adam West and Burt Ward, which was perhaps the great camp TV classic of all times..."
With that, the conversation flags, and the person goes on to other questions, like: "What is Vanna White really like....?"
But honestly, friend, I don't know why -- something about a convoluted battle over rights -- but I do know this: Warner Brothers is going to release the entire three seasons on DVD sometime later this year.
Conan O'Brien announced via Twitter yesterday:
Very excited @WBHomeEnt is releasing the Batman '66 Complete TV Series in 2014! The seat smells like Adam West: http://t.co/cqWjlpW1Gn— Conan O'Brien (@ConanOBrien) January 15, 2014
Why Conan? You mean: Why, besides the fact that he works for Warner Bros. and a lot of male nerds like me watch his show and follow his Twitter feed and love "Batman?"
I don't know why.
But here's the thing: It's time to get excited. If you've never seen the original by Bill Dozier -- who took Bob Kane's greatest-comic-hero-ever and turned him into a figure of joy and mirth, with a wonderful cast in support -- then you have not lived a full or productive life.
(Sorry friend, but that's just true.) More details as they come.
A few full episodes online by the way, but here's the classic open (Newsday app readers and "Batman" fans please head on over to Newsday.com/tvzone to watch.)
No one needs to be reminded what happened exactly one year ago at Sandy Hook Elementary School; certainly no one in Newtown, Conn., where no memorials are planned Saturday, and no TV cameras are welcome. As the snow piles up — 7 to 12 inches expected to cover this town of nearly 30,000 by Sunday morning — TV news will have no familiar easy hooks for anniversary stories; no ceremonies, no reflections,...Read more »
Following the death yesterday of Nelson Mandela, the networks are just now setting a weekend of tributes and retrospectives. First up, CBS News will air “Nelson Mandela: Father of a Nation,” a one-hour "48 HOURS PRESENTS." And ABC just announced a Robin Roberts/David Muir-anchored special tonight at 10, titled "Nelson Mandela: A Man Who Changed the World."
Meanwhile,...Read more »
Not to cause any trouble - because of course I'd never do that - but who else was intrigued by Robin Roberts' off-handed comment to Sam Champion on this morning's "GMA" that his impending departure "sets an example for all of us?"
Meaningless, probably, and Robin Roberts certainly isn't going anywhere. She is the franchise though Champion's exit will and has...Read more »
NBCUniversal Monday handed the keys to one of its shiniest new cars -- the Weather Channel -- over to Sam Champion, who becomes voice, face and hair of that network starting early next year. He leaves "Good Morning America" -- and ABC, his home of the past 25 years Wednesday, which seems awfully fast for someone who's been a "beloved" member of this particular family since 2006.
So who might be next?
Lara Spencer? Josh Elliott? Or . . . Robin. Ah, yes, even Robin Roberts: She's beloved by "Good Morning America" viewers, although they'd better get ready to do their loving on some other network if ABC doesn't offer enough of that green stuff that binds TV families, especially morning ones, together.
ABC nonetheless said Champion's departure was amicable. In other words, not at all like the Ann Curry "Today" debacle. But that pesky "now who?" question was still unavoidable. TV Newser, the closely read TV journalism website, said Roberts was "close" to a new "GMA" deal, but offered no such assurances about Elliott or Spencer -- the chatty irrepressible youngsters of this "GMA" family. Could NBC be in their future as well?
Champion -- a superlative TV happy talker who can make even an impending nor'easter seem like a cheerful turn of events -- will be replaced by "GMA" weekend meteorologist Ginger Zee. A profile in the Chicago Tribune once noted that "she's Ginger because her father, who moved here from the Netherlands and didn't speak English, loved 'Gilligan's Island.' Though she's more of a Mary Ann."
Her three-hour tour is about to begin. The weather forecast calls for rough seas.
Katie Couric, one of the more celebrated broadcasters of the past 20 years, will forsake broadcast news in 2014 when she joins Yahoo as "global anchor." But because her syndicated show is expected to end next year as well maybe it's time now to consider this possibility: Is broadcasting about to forsake Couric?
Her five-year run on "CBS Evening News," which ended in 2011, was considered a disappointment. Her ongoing role at ABC News has largely been invisible. Her talk show -- better than anyone has ever given it credit for, which can actually be a liability in daytime -- has also been a washout, ratings-wise.
If this was baseball, that would add up to three strikes. This isn't baseball even though the outcome could turn out to be the same: Three strikes. Adios.
Then, there's the other way of looking at this. Couric is deepening her ties with one of the Internet's most important destinations, under vigorous new leadership. Chief executive Marissa Mayer, a web pioneer and recent arrival from Google, wants to revive this still-potent brand with fresh talent and energy. At the very least, the future here looks interesting.
The future of broadcasting looks interesting, too, with broad viewership declines, and franchise programs and legacy networks fighting for every warm body. Those bodies are harder to find because they have their noses buried in the mobile devices where they'll soon be able to see a new "global anchor" for Yahoo.
"Joining Yahoo," said Couric in a statement, "offers a tremendous opportunity to reach people all around the world in the way that they're using and consuming media today."
What else would you expect her to say? Except . . . she's right.