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Ellie Kemper gets Tina Fey/Robert Carlock NBC series

Ellie Kemper

(Credit: Getty Images)

Finally some news that indicates NBC's long national comedy nightmare may be nearing an end: Ellie Kemper just got her own show, to be produced by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock.

No word on launch date or even what the show will be about, other than there will be 13 episodes devoted to it. But the fact that these three are involved is only for the good and betterment of NBC's lineup, which continues to gasp on the comedy front.

Carlock's one of the geniuses behind "30 Rock" -- I'd go so far as to say "30 Rock" would never have existed without him. And we know all about that other talent. You know, the one named Tina...

But Kemper now becomes the first star that I'm aware of to emerge from "The Office" to land a series deal -- I don't even think Rainn Wilson has this kind of commitment yet (and no, the "Annoying Orange" doesn't really count, does it?). Nor even Jenna Fischer or John Krasinski -- though he is in Cameron Crowe's new movie, so nothing wrong with that.  

Kemper was great on "The Office." The wonderful, funny, ditzy, sweet, romantic, effervescent, lovable, gullible Kelly Erin Hannon.

Here's a quick clip from "Bridesmaids"... It's racy, but amusing: (And Newsday app readers please go to newsday.com/tvzone if you want to see what my definition of "racy" is...) 

'Downton Abbey' season four teaser

Maggie Smith, left, as the Dowager Countess and

(Credit: Carnival Films)

"Downton Abbey" returns Jan. 5, which means... time for the teases! A good one arrived from PBS late Wednesday.

(Newsday app readers, please gto to newsday.com/tvzone)

Jenny McCarthy, Oprah Winfrey's 'enemy list' and other assorted nonsense

Jenny McCarthy on "The View." (Sept. 9, 2013)

(Credit: AP)

In this great precooked world of celebrity chatter, in which famous people are carefully coached by their well-paid team of publicists about what to say and how to say it, candid commentary — particularly about Oprah Winfrey, the most powerful woman in television — is absolutely unheard of. That's why Jenny McCarthy's comments on "Watch What Happens" the other day are — if not "significant"...

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James Wolk talks 'Crazy Ones,' Bob Benson

James Wolk as Bob Benson on "Mad Men."

(Credit: AMC)

James Wolk finally has the hit most of his fans think he was destined for -- though most of them didn't figure this would be the hit: "The Crazy Ones," which is easily the standout success of the new fall crop. (The lead-in doesn't hurt, but a success is a success...) 

In this clip posted by CBS, Wolk does briefly address his "Mad Men" role -- Bob Benson, one of those wonderfully ambiguous characters who drove an army of TV writers in fits of speculation last season. But "The Crazy Ones" success also raises the whole issue of Bob's continued tenure at Sterling Cooper. His "Zach Cropper" is obviously a key reason why "Ones" is working, yet how would this sync with the "Mad Men" universe? Probably wouldn't which is why we have either seen the end of "Bob" or the beginning of the end of  Bob. That's OK: The mysterious Bob has now been solved anyway...

The clip... Newsday app readers know the drill -- head to newsday.com/tvzone to watch Zach talk Bob...

'War of the Worlds' 75 years ago tonight...

Orson Welles in an undated photo.

(Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

"War of the Worlds" entered American life and culture seventy-five years ago -  at 8 p.m. - as one of those events that seemed to  expose, or anticipate, the fault lines of human affairs. The most terrible war in human history was to begin within a year, and Americans seemed to sense this, almost as if "sensing" premonitions of a  terrible earthquake.

Then along comes this frivolous radio drama that now - three quarters of a century later - seems to have anticipated something terrible as well. (Which is what great artists like Orson Welles are supposed to do...Anticipate.)

 What the heck was all the fuss about? Were "millions" really scared? All just a lot of hype? (Aren't you just a little curious to find out?) Here's the original broadcast. It's interesting, but as as you listen, put yourself in the minds of people who were wondering what the world was coming to all those years ago. That makes this a little more intriguing, and perhaps it also makes those who were frightened a little more sympathetic... 

Ted Cruz to visit 'Tonight Show'

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, talks to reporters as

(Credit: AP )

Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican senator who forced the recent government shutdown will appear on "The Tonight Show" Nov. 8 to"discuss the recent government shutdown, the debt ceiling, the gridlock in Washington and the current state of the Republican Party."

Of course, Cruz can talk. Remember his many-hours-long quasi-fillibuster that led up to the shutdown, which he seems to be taking credit for? (He's certainly been getting the blame...) Maybe Jay wants to get out that old hourglass he used when Bill Clinton first came on the show nearly a quarter century ago.

'The Returned' on Sundance Channel: Good, bad, indifferent?

In the next 24 hours, you will hear a lot about the Sundance Channel's new quasi-zombie series, "The Returned," from Canal +, which arrives with all of those sorts of plaudits that should make you wary, if not suspicious... Scary! Bone-chilling! Brilliant! Etc. 

But it's none of those things. My review, below, offers an overview, but I think the best advice I could give viewers...

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Did Orson Welles' 'War of the Worlds' really freak out a nation?

Orson Welles in rehearsal at the Campbell Playhouse

(Credit: CBS Radio)

Who among my savvy readers well-versed in the intricacies of broadcast journalism history -- which is to say pretty much every one of you -- knows that exactly 75 years ago Wednesday, Orson Welles' "War of the Worlds" radio broadcast spooked a nation and launched one of the most spectacular careers in movie history?

Tuesday night, "American Experience" revisited the famous...

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Rob Lowe talks 'Parks and Recreation' departure

Rob Lowe, soon to play JFK. (April 25,

(Credit: AP )

Rob Lowe -- Chris Traeger of "Parks and Recreation" -- will be leaving the series this season, along with Rashida Jones, both of whose fortunes on this minor classic are linked in their many-episodes-long pursuit of a bundle of joy.

He's been a major part of the series, and enough can't be said about Jones' importance too, so for fans, this is all a big deal. Last night on "Late Show with David Letterman," Lowe talked (for the first time, I believe) about why he's going -- though the frustrating thing about this clip is that he gives no reason at all (lame-ish and evasive  jokes about how tough a boss Amy Poehler is.) .

Fact is, he is reportedly in development on a new series for NBC.  Moreover, as "P&R" heads into a long off-the-air period this month ("hiatus" isn't quite the right word), there's renewed speculation that this will be "P&R's"  last season. Jones and Lowe will likely leave early next year -- he says his final episode will be taped shortly.

Here's the full clip, as Rob and Dave reminisce about the days both lived in Malibu.

Newsday app readers, please head to Newsday.com/tvzone if youwant to hear what Dave used to do on Halloween. (Hint: He did not dress up.) 

  

Kerry Washington's 'Saturday Night Live' preview

Kerry Washington arrives at the BAFTA's Los Angeles

(Credit: AP)

Kerry Washington's hosting close up on "Saturday Night Live" arrives this weekend, but first, this rite of passage.

(Newsday app viewers, please head over to Newsday.com/tvzone for the clip.)

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