TV Bulletin Board (Thurs., May 26) -- MSNBC's Ed Schultz gets suspended while Kevin Costner joins the History family
By ED BARK
"Progressive" talk show host Ed Schultz first used his radio show to call conservative commentator Laura Ingraham a "slut."
Then he used his Wednesday night edition of The Ed Show on MSNBC to profusely apologize before swallowing a one-week unpaid suspension.
Terming his terminology "vile and inappropriate," Schultz said in part, "I have embarrassed this company. This is the lowest of low for me."
It's tough to embarrass MSNBC anymore. The former home of Don Imus and Keith Olbermann would appear to be pretty much beyond that point.
Schultz's mea culpa is yet more evidence of the foot-in-mouth virus infecting the entire radio and TV talk landscape. Whatever the political bent, the genre increasingly smells like a skunk.
***The History cable network recently announced it will bankroll a 10-hour scripted series on the Bible produced by Survivor/Apprentice creator Mark Burnett.
Now Kevin Costner will be acting out, too, as the star and co-producer of The Hatfields and McCoys, a miniseries scheduled to premiere sometime in 2012. Costner, who will play "Devil" Anse Hatfield, says he's "thrilled" to participate "in this dramatic re-telling of a classic and timeless tale that is forever immersed in the folklore of our country."
By ED BARK
Reality show maestro Mark Burnett has had numerous up-close and personal dealings with a guy who thinks he's God -- Donald Trump.
Now the producer of long-running franchises such as The Apprentice and Survivor has agreed to helm The Bible, a new five-part, 10-hour docudrama for History (formerly The History Channel).
Burnett, who orchestrated Sarah Palin's Alaska and also currently presides over ABC's Shark Tank and NBC's late season hit, The Voice, will be making a rare excursion into the land of actors and their roles. In other words, The Bible will be scripted and performed rather than populated by contestants who are edited into heroes or villains. Scheduled to air in 2013, the series will be shot on location and "use state-of-the-art visual effects," History said in a publicity release.
The network promises "revealing insights into the life and times of some of its (the Bible's) most iconic characters, including Jesus, Noah and Daniel in the lion's den.
"The Bible is a sacred text that continues to challenge and inspire," Burnett says. "We've been working on this project for the past two years and are deeply humbled to be given this once in a generation opportunity to breathe new visual life into the Bible's profound stories."
History previously ventured into scripted miniseries territory with The Kennedys, which it belatedly rejected after deciding that the eight-hour production (starring Greg Kinnear and Katie Holmes as Jack and Jackie Kennedy) wasn't a good fit for the network's "brand." It wound up airing on ReelzChannel earlier this year, setting ratings records for an outlet that most viewers had never heard of, let alone watched.
History president and general manager Nancy Dubuc says The Bible "has the ability to deliver what we hope will be the largest audience History has ever seen." No casting has been announced yet, but Trump presumably will not be playing any of the sanctified principals.
***On a somewhat lesser scale, HBO announced Tuesday that it has green-lighted a new reality series, On Freddie Roach. It's a six-parter focusing on boxing trainer Freddie Roach, a former fighter whose latter day bout with Parkinson's Disease likely is an offshoot of his time in the ring.
Directing is Peter Berg, who was executive producer of NBC's acclaimed Friday Night Lights, now in its fifth and final season on the network. The series is scheduled to premiere in early 2012.
By ED BARK
MSNBC veered a bit off its latter day track Monday by announcing the hiring of former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele as a full-time political analyst.
"His strong voice and opinions will be a great addition to all of our programs," MSNBC president Phil Griffin said in a publicity release.
Steele's largely conservative views will clash with the network's contingent of liberal news analysis programs, which have multiplied in recent years as a counterpart to Fox News Channel's conservative agenda. Steele said he's looking forward to "engaging a diverse audience to share insights and analysis about the people, issues and events shaping America's future."
Steele apparently will make regular in-house appearances on left-of-center programs anchored by Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O'Donnell and Ed Schultz.
***Showime has renewed Edie Falco's Nurse Jackie series for a fourth season, but won't be bringing back the multiple personalities of Toni Collette in The United States of Tara, which is currently in its third and now final season following Jackie on Mondays at 9:30 p.m. (central).
TV Bulletin Board (Mon., May 16) -- Trump renounces presidential run after suckering national media (plus a new weekly version of The Flintstones from the Family Guy dude
By ED BARK
Having made a collective chump of the national media while drumming up a wealth of free publicity for The Celebrity Apprentice, Donald Trump has backed away from his fraudulent, faux run for the presidency.
Trump officially declared himself a non-candidate Monday morning during a brief appearance at NBC's "upfront" presentation of its new fall lineup to Madison Avenue advertisers. It clears the way for him to host next season's Celebrity Apprentice rather than have a stand-in do the firing in his stead.
"After getting so many calls from Bob and Steve (NBC entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt and NBC Universal CEO Steve Burke), I've decided that we are going to continue onward with Celebrity Apprentice," he said. "We're going to continue making lots and lots of money for charity. I will not be running for president, as much as I'd like to."
Trump, who recently scalded himself by championing the "birther" movement against President Obama, had talked big about an accomplished businessman being needed in the Oval Office to put the United States back on track financially. The national media ate it up while ratings for Celebrity Apprentice hit a growth spurt.
He was supposed to save his big non-announcement for this Sunday's season finale of Celebrity Apprentice. But NBC had been facing pressure -- even within its own ranks -- to get a definitive answer from rather than continue to put the network's news division in an awkward position.
Trump is nothing if not a blowhard. But he's also a latter day P.T. Barnum who knows that suckers are born every millisecond. So he milked every last ounce of attention for himself before pulling out of a race he almost certainly never intended to run.
***One wonders what might be coming out of Fred Flintstone's mouth with the Family Guy creator at the controls.
Fox announced Monday that the age-old animated series is getting a makeover from Seth MacFarlane, whose other animated shows for the network are The Cleveland Show and American Dad. Production on The Flintstones is set to start this fall, with the series due on Fox's prime-time schedule in 2013.
"The very first cartoon character I drew at age two was Fred Flintstone," MacFarlane says in a network publicity release. "So it 's appropriate that events have come full circle, allowing me to produce the newest incarnation of this great franchise. Plus, I think America is finally ready for an animated sitcom about a fat, stupid guy with a wife who's too good for him."
Fox promises a "modern-day take" from MacFarlane, with Fred, his wife, Wilma and their best friends, Barney and Betty Rubble, all being re-imagined.
The Flintstones originally aired on ABC from 1960-'66. It ranked among prime-time's 25 most-watched series in both the 1960-'61 and 1961-'62 seasons.
By ED BARK
NBC hopes to rein all over its rivals on Tuesdays this June (and May 31st, too, for that matter) with a power-packed combo of its new hit, The Voice, and its returning hit, America's Got Talent.
The Peacock announced Thursday that the first live episodes of The Voice will start on Tuesday, June 7th and run through Tuesday, June 28th from 8 to 10 p.m. (central). They'll be preceded on Tuesdays by one-hour editions of Talent, which gets a two-hour Season 6 launch on May 31st before settling in at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and 8 p.m. on Wednesdays.
The May 31st Talent will lead into the final one-hour pre-taped "Battle Round" on Voice, giving NBC five consecutive Tuesdays of nothing but these two "reality competition" shows. That's a potential murderer's row, given Voice's big start in the ratings through its first three weeks on NBC.
Talent's live shows will start on Tuesday, July 5th, airing in two-hour increments for the rest of the summer. Results shows will follow on Wednesdays.
***HDNET will get super-mellow on Sunday, May 22nd with a live concert by David Crosby and Graham Nash from the Palace Theatre in Stamford, Conn. Show time is 6:30 p.m. (central), with a repeat that same night. It's the first live concert under HDNet's Sunday Night Music banner.
***OK, try to guess which one of these upcoming Spike TV unscripted series is actually for real.
Pawn Games -- A real-life pawn shop is the setting for this Let's Make A Deal-ish venture in which unsuspecting contestants get a chance to "win back their prized possessions they've just traded for a quick buck."
World's Worst Tenants -- "Professional evictor" Todd Howard introduces viewers to "the most despicable, dirty, outrageous and insane tenants he has ever known."
Auction In My House -- Who needs pawn shops or repossessed storage units. The treasure hunters on this show go head-to-head with one another as they "raid a home looking for valuables." Garages, attics and even "private nooks and crannies" are fair game.
Um, they're all for real, and were proudly announced by Spike TV Thursday as part of its "ambitious new slate" of pilots "aimed at the network's core audience of men 18-34 while also appealing to the network's expanding audience of men 35-49."
As a kid who once put a fake dog turd on a scoutmaster's desk, perhaps I should get my nose out of the air and pick it instead. Meanwhile, though, Western civilization continues to take a worse pounding than Wile E. Coyote.
By ED BARK
Colin Hanks, last seen in prime-time as Bradley Whitford's straight arrow detective partner on Fox's made-in-Dallas The Good Guys, has landed a fine post-cancellation consolation prize.
Showtime announced Tuesday that Hanks will be in all 12 episodes of Dexter's Season 6, which will launch sometime this fall. He's cast as Travis, described as "a highly intelligent young expert on ancient artifacts who gets linked to a series of grisly murders in Miami."
***Not that this is a surprise, but Fox officially has renewed House for an eighth season next fall. Contracts had to be renewed and re-negotiated at the seven-year mark, but it got done. The network announces its complete fall lineup this Monday.
***Throw another Texas-set "reality" series on the fire. WE TV's slate of new programming includes Texas Multi Mamas, scheduled to premiere on Tuesday, October 25th. The network says you'll be enthralled by the rearing of "bountiful broods" by moms who each bring a "distinct personality and point of view to the drama -- convinced that only her way is the right way." So there's going to be "plenty of chaos, fun and lots of love" en route.
***CBS has the summer premiere dates in place for the returning Big Brother and the new Same Name.
Again hosted by Julie Chen, the 13th edition of BB arrives on Thursday, July 7th. It'll air three nights a week, on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.
Same Name, which matches celebrities with commoners who share their name, will launch on Sunday, July 24th. As previously posted, David Hasselhoff will journey to Lake Jackson, TX in the first episode to meet high voltage power technician/landscaper David Hasselhoff and his family. They'll then trade places for a while.
CBS also has announced that Neil Patrick Harris is returning as host of the Tony Awards. The 65th annual ceremony will be on Sunday, June 12th.