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TV Bulletin Board (Thurs., Jan. 25) -- Giving the reboot to Murphy Brown

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By ED BARK
@unclebarkycom on Twitter
Resurrecting onetime hit TV series -- either with the old cast or a brand new one -- may have gone from a fever pitch to a fanatical one with CBS’ announcement that Murphy Brown is coming back.

So is Candice Bergen, who played the title character for Murphy’s entire run (1988-’98) and won five Emmy awards for her acting. Bergen, now 71, then declined future nominations in order to give someone else a chance to win.

Slated to return for 13 episodes sometime during the 2018-’19 TV season, Murphy will find itself in a “new world of cable news, social media, fake news and a very different political and cultural climate,” CBS noted in a publicity release.

Set within the fictional world of the television news magazine FYI, the comedy aggressively tackled real world issues and famously drew the ire of Vice President Dan Quayle when a pregnant Murphy decided to have the child (a son) and raise little Avery on her own after the father objected to compromising his lifestyle in order to be a parent. Quayle accused the show of “mocking the importance of fathers by bearing a child alone and calling it just another lifestyle choice.”

Murphy eventually wrote his remarks into an episode and Quayle was widely mocked and criticized, most visibly during the 1992 Emmy Awards ceremony in which Bergen won her third trophy and the show its second. The show’s creator, Diane English, led the charge that night and will return as the show runner of CBS’ new version.

Other than Bergen, no other cast members were announced by CBS. Two members of the show’s charter ensemble, Robert Pastorelli and Pat Corley, are deceased while other such as Faith Ford, Grant Shaud and Joe Regalbuto have had little visibility in the past decade or so. It’s possible that none of them will be asked to return. Lily Tomlin, who became a regular in Murphy’s last two seasons, is currently co-starring with Jane Fonda in Netflix’s Grace and Frankie comedy series. But if asked, she presumably could find time to at least occasionally reprise her character of Kay Carter-Shepley, who replaced Shaud’s Miles Silverberg as FYI’s producer.

Reprises have been all the rage in recent years. The current landscape includes do-overs of Will & Grace, S.W.A.T., The X-Files, Dynasty, Full House, One Day At A Time, Hawaii Five-0, Macgyver, Fear Factor and a raft of ABC game shows. Roseanne and American Idol will be coming to ABC after NBC concludes its telecasts of the Winter Olympics. And the Peacock network is developing new versions of The Munsters, Miami Vice and The Office after earlier false-starting a Coach do-over that would have put Craig T. Nelson back in play.

Given how things are going, that may only be the half of it.

***

A reader sent along the below graphic of a vivid and now very dated cigarette ad. The three stars are all long gone, with Arthur Godfrey dying of eventual ramifications from lung cancer treatments. After being diagnosed, he became an anti-smoking spokesman.

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Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net

TV Bulletin Board (Fri., Oct. 27) -- Jeff Glor is CBS News' new standardbearer

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New kid on the block: Jeff Glor gets CBS News’ top job. CBS photo

By ED BARK
@unclebarkycom on Twitter
Elevating Jeff Glor to anchor the CBS Evening News represents both a youth movement and a wise decision to go in-house rather than throw a lot of money at a “big name” from a rival network.

Glor, a relative kid at the age of 42, has been with CBS News for a decade and brings ample experience as a field reporter. On a yet to be announced date, he’ll succeed Anthony Mason, 61, who had been an interim replacement for the deposed Scott Pelley, 60.

Glor’s boyish good looks and thick head of hair are almost a match for ABC World News Tonight anchor David Muir, who will turn 44 on Nov. 8th. NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt is now the runaway oldster of this trio at age 58.

“Jeff is a thoughtful, probing journalist with the versatility to anchor in any circumstances -- from daily reporting to the most significant events of our time,” CBS News president David Rhodes said in a statement.

Big, showy investments in outside “talent” traditionally have not gone well for CBS, which has tried and failed over the years with the likes of Connie Chung, Bryant Gumbel and most notably, Katie Couric. Glor will be comparatively cost-efficient while also coming up through the ranks rather than blowing in and raising resentments. News networks historically have been far better off grooming their own stars from within.

The three broadcast network evening newscasts have been scoffed at as “dinosaurs” by some. But they individually still draw larger audiences than the great majority of prime-time entertainment shows on either broadcast or cable outlets. In the most recent week, ABC led the way with 8.254 million total viewers for World News Tonight, followed by NBC’s Nightly News (7.778 million) and the CBS Evening News (6.086 million).

For the prime-time ratings week of Oct. 16-22, only CBS averaged more viewers per show than its flagship newscast.

***

HBO continues to amass an imposing list of comedic talent for its live Nov. 18th Night of Too Many Stars: America Unites For Autism Programs. The latest additions include Chris Rock, Ben Stiller and Howie Mandel. They join the previously announced Adam Sandler, John Oliver, Louis C.K., Stephen Colbert and others. Jon Stewart again hosts.

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net

TV Bulletin Board (Wed., Jan. 18) -- Netflix poaches Comedians In Cars

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Laughing it up with the Prez on Comedians In Cars. Crackle photo

By ED BARK
@unclebarkycom on Twitter
And the rich get richer. In this case it’s both Netflix and Jerry Seinfeld.

The king of all streaming networks and the swimming-in-money comedian have signed a deal that will take Seinfeld’s Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee away from Crackle, where it originated in July 2012.

Seinfeld also will star in two new standup specials for Netflix, which says that new episodes of Comedians In Cars -- 24 in all -- will debut in late 2017 in addition to earlier editions of the java-fueled get-togethers.

When he began developing Comedians In Cars, “the entire Netflix business model consisted of mailing out DVDs in envelopes,” Seinfeld says in a publicity release. “I love that we are now joining together, both at very different points . . . I am really quite charged up to be moving there.”

***The official Mad Men archives are being donated to the University of Texas at Austin’s Harry Ransom Center. The donor is series creator Matthew Weiner, who says, “It’s our hope that the Mad Men archive can satisfy academic curiosity and also provide creative inspiration.”

In a companion interview released with the announcement, Weiner says he first visited the Ransom Center during the Austin Film Festival and was impressed with its Gone With The Wind exhibit. The Mad Men archive will be exhaustive, he adds, with “every draft of every script and all the dailies of every episode” in addition to “a wealth of props, costumes and communication that represent not only the process but the key moments in the conception and execution of the show.”

But no, Jon Hamm will not be the official tour guide.

***On the Everything Old is New Again front, NBC says that Will & Grace will return for a limited 10-episode run sometime during the 2017-18 TV season. The four principal cast members -- Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Megan Mullally and Sean Hayes -- all will reprise their original roles.

NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt, in a publicity release, describes Will & Grace as a “groundbreaking series for everything from gay rights to social and political commentary -- all disguised as a high-speed train of witty pop culture.”

It originally aired from 1998 to 2006 on NBC and won 16 Emmy awards during that time.

NBC also has announced a two-season pickup of its breakout hit, This Is Us, with a minimum of 18 episodes per season. And the Peacock has ordered 20 additional episodes of The Wall, a big-money game show produced by big-moneyed LeBron James.

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net

TV Bulletin Board (Wed., Sept. 28) -- 1st Trump-Clinton debate on ratings high

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By ED BARK
@unclebarkycom on Twitter
The national audience for Monday night’s first of three scheduled Hillary Clinton-Donald Trump debates didn’t come close to projections of 100 million viewers.

And it fell well short of the 115.2 million viewers for the 2015 Super Bowl XLIX, which still ranks as the most-watched television program ever.

But the debate became first in its class among all general election presidential face-offs, with its 84,011,000 viewers surpassing the previous record of 80.6 million for the lone 1980 encounter between Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter.

Trump-Clinton also easily surpassed 2012’s first debate between President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, which had 67,187,000 viewers according to Nielsen Media Research.

The 84 million figure for Clinton-Trump was drawn from 13 networks and does not include online watching or viewing in bars, restaurants, dormitories, etc.

Seven Super Bowls have drawn more than 100 million viewers to date, with just over half of them (26) pulling in more viewers than Trump-Clinton. The finales of M*A*S*H and Cheers also drew more total viewers.

Precise total viewer measurements for the Nov. 21, 1980 “Who Shot J.R.?” episode of Dallas and the Jan. 30, 1977 finale of Roots are harder to come by. Back then, Nielsen used “household” numbers to gauge a program’s popularity. Most sources now say that based on current-day audience measurements, both programs drew in excess of 80 million viewers. There was far less competition then, but also an appreciably smaller viewer pool.

Monday’s debate crushed the most-watched Oscar ceremony ever. The 1998 telecast, during which the immensely popular Titanic won for best picture, had 55,249,000 viewers.

***Jane Pauley has been named to succeed the retiring Charles Osgood as host of CBS Sunday Morning. The former Today star is scheduled to step in on Oct. 9th. She has been a contributor on the program since 2014.

Osgood hosted the Emmy-laden program for 22 years after replacing the late Charles Kuralt, who had a 15-year tenure.

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net

TV Bulletin Board (Tues., Aug. 30) -- Perry stumbles upon Dancing with the Stars

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Rick Perry with new DWTS partner Emma Slater and at a debate. ABC/file photos

By ED BARK
@unclebarkycom on Twitter
Apparently addicted to being quickly voted off big stages, Rick Perry’s next venture is Dancing with the Stars, where he’ll be hoofing and puffing next month after two failed presidential campaigns.

The former Texas governor joined a field of 13 announced Tuesday by ABC. When the 23rd edition of the show launches on Sept. 12th, he’ll be paired with pro dancer Emma Slater.

Other names you might recognize include recently disgraced Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte, Dallas native Vanilla Ice (real name Robert Van Winkle), Marilu Henner, Maureen McCormick, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds and Calvin Johnson Jr., who had dropped the Jr. while playing in the NFL.

In video clips on ABC’s media site, Perry describes his new dance partner as “fabulously lovely and charming . . . I knew that I had hit the lottery.” Slater in turn calls him “devilishly handsome.”

Perry notes that he competed live onstage in previous Republican candidate debates, including his infamous “Oops” moment in the 2012 presidential contest. “It’s just in a little different silo,” he says of DWTS. “You’re out there without a wire every week.”

He pledges to speak up for veterans for however long he lasts. “This isn’t about me,” Perry says. “This is about the veterans in this country. We’re gonna tell a lot of their supporting stories” while also touting the organization “Advance the Colors.”

And in case you don’t think Perry’s in it to win it, well, “On a one to 10, I’m about 11.5 on the competitive scale,” he contends. “We came to win.”

Slater says she’ll be journeying to Texas for as long as Perry lasts to groom him for the samba, the rhumba, the fox trot, etc. She promises to push him hard. “No slack,” says Perry. “That’s how I like it.”

He’s not the first Texas politician to give DWTS a whirl. Tom DeLay, the former House Majority Leader until alleged ethics violations waylaid him, participated in the show’s ninth edition before withdrawing in Week 3 with an injury. In that same edition, ex-Dallas Cowboys star receiver and Hall of Famer Michael Irvin lasted all the way to Week 9.

But wait, there’s more. Former Dallas Cowboys star running back and Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith won the third edition of DWTS and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban competed in the fifth edition before being voted off in Week 5.

Besides the previously mentioned competitors, the latest DWTS field also will include Amber Rose, Jake T. Austin, James Hinchcliffe, Jana Kramer, Laurie Hernandez and Terra Jole, who’s a native of San Antonio.

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net