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Fox Broadcasting Adds Jean Guerin as Communications Chief

54 minutes ago

Veteran communications executive Jean Guerin has joined Fox Broadcasting as the network’s new head of public relations.

Guerin steps into the role vacated by Shannon Ryan, who was named chief marketing officer at Fox Television Group earlier this year. She will report to Ryan as executive VP, publicity and corporate communications.

“Jean is a gifted strategist and one of the most respected communications executives in television and film,” said Ryan. “Her extensive experience, combined with her keen knowledge of the business, makes her the perfect fit for Fox, and we can’t wait for her to join our talented publicity team.”

Guerin heads to Fox from Sony Pictures Entertainment, where she was senior VP of media relations for the motion-picture group. In a memo to staff Monday, Sony’s Bob Lawson wrote, “I want to thank Jean for her tireless work and dedication to Spe. She has been a terrific colleague and partner throughout some of »


- Daniel Holloway

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TV Review: ‘The Brave,’ Starring Anne Heche, on NBC

1 hour ago

The Brave” is a by-the-numbers hybrid of two of three very familiar drama formulas. A few sentences at the start of the drama more or less position it as the military-intelligence version of “Law & Order,” perhaps one that could replace the famous “thunk-thunk” with the sound of gunfire or explosions.

Intelligence analysts, “The Brave” informs viewers, are the ones who assess risks to Americans and their interests; Special Forces soldiers are “tasked with eliminating” those threats. The difference is that the hour is not split between those two teams, as is the case with classic “L&O.” The units work together on “The Brave,” and their time-sensitive tasks feature the usual array of maps, drones, gunplay, urgent conversations and undercover spy work.

The opening hour hits a number of story points that have been done better elsewhere (notably on “Homeland” and “Rubicon,” among other dramas). An American woman has been taken hostage, and »


- Maureen Ryan

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‘Pretty Little Liars’ Spinoff Lands Pilot Order From Freeform

1 hour ago

Freeform has given a pilot order “Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists,” a spinoff of the drama series “Pretty Little Liars” with Sasha Pieterse and Janel Parrish set to star.

Pretty Little Liars” showrunner I. Marlene King has written the pilot and served as executive producer with Leslie Morgenstein and Gina Girolamo.

“At Freeform, we are committed to delivering shows that push boundaries and become a part of our viewers’ lives. ‘Pretty Little Liars’ was a cultural phenomenon so it’s no wonder fans wanted more.” said Karey Burke, executive vice president, programming and development, Freeform. “We can’t wait to continue Marlene King’s rich and revolutionary storytelling with a new crop of leading ladies from Beacon Heights who will hold just as many secrets and lies as Rosewood did.”

“I’m beyond excited to continue my collaboration with Sara Shepard, Alloy, Freeform and Warner Horizon,” says Marlene King. “I »


- Daniel Holloway

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‘Empire’s’ Season 4 Premiere Celebrates a 20th Anniversary and a Recovering Lucious

2 hours ago

When Fox’s “Empire” ended last season, Lyon family patriarch Lucious (Terrence Howard) was just waking up from a coma after almost getting killed by a car bomb. Though he survived the attack physically, he lost his memories of his family and of himself. When the show returns for its fourth season, it’s three months later and he still doesn’t have his memory back, but the family is pushing on with their business – and a milestone with the 20th anniversary of their company.

“It really sets the template for the season,” showrunner Ilene Chaiken tells Variety about the anniversary celebration that will open the premiere. “In this episode, it serves as the framework for telling the story of where Lucious is and what it means to everyone.”

Chaiken says the premiere will also see a break in format, in order to better tell this story. The episode “book-ends” the story by starting the action at »


- Danielle Turchiano

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‘Star Trek: Discovery’: Akiva Goldsman on Spock, What’s in Store for Season 1

2 hours ago

Spoiler Alert: Do not read if you have not watched episodes 1 and 2 of “Star Trek: Discovery.”

Star Trek” returned to TV on Sunday night after a 12-year absence with the premiere of “Star Trek: Discovery.” The first episode of the new series, which stars Sonequa Martin-Green as Cmdr. Michael Burnham, aired on CBS, with the second episode made available immediately after on CBS All Access, where all subsequent episodes will debut.

The first two episodes find Burnham, a human raised by Vulcans, caught up in — and arguably instigating — the beginning of a war between the United Federation of Planets and the Klingon Empire. Akiva Goldsman, an executive producer on the show, spoke to Variety about Burnham and the season ahead.

As you were working on these first two episodes, how much did you want to reveal about Michael Burnham’s background?

It will sound facile to say that we wanted to reveal about as much as we »


- Daniel Holloway

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TV Review: ‘The Good Doctor,’ Starring Freddie Highmore, on ABC

2 hours ago

Freddie Highmore is an immensely talented actor, and he brings intelligence and depth to his portrayal of Dr. Shaun Murphy, his character on “The Good Doctor.” A newly minted surgeon with both autism and savant syndrome, he must navigate a range of challenging workplace situations and social dilemmas.

The problem with “The Good Doctor” is that it doesn’t trust Highmore’s versatile and substantial acting skills. Every other aspect of the show is either overwrought or frustratingly simplistic, as if it’s determined to get the viewer to care about Shaun by hook or by crook. But Highmore makes the viewer care, thanks to his intense presence and precise portrayal. Unfortunately, the actor can’t undo the flat writing and one-dimensional elements in the show’s unpromising pilot.

Almost every scene with other doctors at St. Bonaventure Hospital scene comes off like a third-rate “Grey’s Anatomy” ripoff: various subplots arrive complete with hot doctors, hookups »


- Maureen Ryan

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Our Staff Picks: TV Shows to Watch the Week of Sept. 25, 2017

3 hours ago

Welcome back to Tune In: our weekly newsletter offering a guide to the best of the week’s TV.

Each week, Variety’s TV team combs through the week’s schedule, selecting our picks of what to watch and when/how to watch them. This week, “Will & Grace” returns to the air after more than a decade, and the “Big Bang Theory” prequel “Young Sheldon” premieres.

Young Sheldon,” CBS, Monday, 8:30 p.m.

In the series premiere of this “Big Bang Theory” prequel, viewers are taken back to witness the childhood of a young Sheldon Cooper in East Texas. As the child prodigy makes his way to high school at age 9, Sheldon must deal with pressure not only from his new classmates but also his family, including his brother, sister, and father, all of whom struggle to understand his genius intellect. Meanwhile, Sheldon’s mother Mary fiercely protects and nurtures her son in a town where he »


- Joe Otterson

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TV Review: ‘Seal Team,’ Starring David Boreanaz

3 hours ago

David Boreanaz has a knack for elevating tepid material, and that has never been more clear than in CBS’ “Seal Team,” in which his particular brand of self-effacing charm marries surprisingly well with a blood-and-sand military drama. Boreanaz plays Jason Hayes, a high-ranking Navy Seal who, when we meet him, is fibbing his way through mandatory therapy. He probably should pay attention; ever since he lost a good friend in combat, he’s estranged from his wife and children. The loss has redoubled his focus on work: Taking out more of Isil, while making sure his team is the best it can be.

It’s a little shamelessly jingoistic, and like many shows and films about the current war on terror, it carries charged political implications. On the other hand, when the team learns of a hostage, they make a point of discussing that her “value” is partly dictated by the fact that she is an “attractive »


- Sonia Saraiya

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What TV Gets Right — and Wrong — about Autism

4 hours ago

Creating a TV series that accurately and effectively captures the experience of raising an autistic child is a bit like making a TV series about sand: for every autistic child there’s a different manifestation of the disorder, for every autistic child there’s a different story to be told.

Autism Spectrum Disorder is just that—a spectrum. It’s not one specific neurological disorder but an umbrella term used to describe a wide-ranging and complex set of behavioral and developmental problems that affect communication, behavioral and social skills. There are autistic individuals who do not speak; others become movie stars (Dan Aykroyd and Darryl Hannah are both on the spectrum). The variables are endless, the definition of what it means to be autistic is fluid and unbound.

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, about one out of every 68 children is diagnosed with the disorder, and far more boys are diagnosed than girls. As »


- Malina Saval

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Def Comedy Jam at 25: Dave Chappelle, Sheryl Underwood, D.L. Hughley Get Political

4 hours ago

Some of the most iconic moments from HBO’s “Def Comedy Jam” were about relationships, sex, and culture. But the comics who appeared on Russell Simmons and Bob Sumner’s stand-up show didn’t shy away from the current events of the time, either – everything from O.J. Simpson’s freeway chase to the beating of Rodney King and subsequent L.A. riots were fair game. So it’s no surprise that reuniting some of the best from the show’s original run for Netflix’s 25th anniversary special would come with ample commentary on the politics of today.

The “Def Comedy Jam 25” special, which was taped on Sept. 10 in Los Angeles, mixed live performances from Def Jam legends like Cedric the Entertainer, Adele Givens, Eddie Griffin, Tracy Morgan and Mike Epps with pre-taped messages from stars like Chris Rock and Kevin Hart as well as footage from classic sets.

Putting together so many quick-witted comedians under one »


- Danielle Turchiano

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TV Review: ‘Young Sheldon’ on CBS

5 hours ago

Young Sheldon” is earnestly trying to do two things at once: function as a mainstream family comedy, and fit into the realm of single-camera half hours, which tend to be a bit more character-driven than most shows on CBS. “Young Sheldon,” which depicts “The Big Bang Theory’s” Sheldon Cooper as a precocious 9-year-old in East Texas, doesn’t quite gel in either arena in its initial outing. But the premise and a few performances are interesting enough to give the show some time to find its way.

Without question it was the right decision to avoid the multi-camera format with this project. The Sheldon that TV audiences have come to know over the course of 10 seasons of “The Big Bang Theory” can be a difficult person (which is partly the hook of both shows). Despite the fine work of Jim Parsons as the adult Sheldon, the physicist — given his genius Iq and his unwillingness to conform »


- Maureen Ryan

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Selma Vilhunen’s ‘Stupid Young Heart’ Wins Finnish Film Affair Prize

5 hours ago

Selma Vilhunen’s “Stupid Young Heart” won the Work-in-Progress prize at the Finnish Film Affair, the industry forum running alongside the Helsinki International Film Festival.

“Stupid Young Heart” was presented in post-production at the Finnish Film Affair, where it was awarded a grant of 3000 euros ($3570). The grant is meant to be used for marketing expenses.

The movie is being produced by Elli Toivoniemi and Venla Hellstedt at Tuffi Films. International sales rights on the film are still available.

Vilhunen’s previous film, “Little Wing,” screened at the Finnish Film Affair last year and is nominated for a Nordic Council Film Prize. Toivoniemi’s documentary feature “Once I Was a Dragonfly” won the Ffa award in 2015.

A coming-of-age drama, “Stupid Young Heart” was one of the 10 features presented at the Finnish Film Affair.

The jury, which included Jenny Cooney, member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Zsuzsi Bankuti of The Match Factory and Marge Liiske of Baltic Event »


- Elsa Keslassy

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TV Ratings: Sunday Night Football Down in Week 3

6 hours ago

The “Sunday Night Football” matchup between Washington and Oakland delivered a one-sided game for viewers and a weakened ratings return for NBC.

With Washington dominating throughout and ultimately winning 27-10, “Sunday Night Football” averaged an 11.6 rating in Nielsen’s metered-market household numbers. That’s down 11% from early numbers for the third week of the season last year.

Earlier in the day, ratings for CBS’ NFL doubleheader were up 4% from the same week last year. The early regional game drew an 10.0 in overnights, up 11% from last year. CBS’ later game drew a 13.8, down 1% from last year. Fox’s afternoon game did a 10.3, down 16% from last year.

Earlier in the week, “Thursday Night Football” saw a ratings surge with Los Angeles Rams-San Fransisco 49ers on NFL Network drawing a 4.4 final household rating, up 38% from week three, and 7.4 million total viewers, up 47% from last week.

Elsewhere on broadcast Sunday night, “Star Trek: Discovery” debuted to a 1.6 rating in the 18- »


- Daniel Holloway

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Megyn Kelly Turns Away From Politics and Toward Morning TV in New Launch

6 hours ago

Megyn Kelly isn’t playing politics anymore – at least not on camera.

The former Fox News anchor vowed to put aside the hard-edged interviewing style that made her famous and turned her energy Monday full-bore into the launch of a new morning program, in one of the bigger bets NBC has made on a single talent since, perhaps, it named an unknown Conan O’Brien in 1993 to succeed David Letterman at the helm of its wee-hours “Late Night” franchise.

Kelly told a live studio audience in the opening moments of her new “Megyn Kelly Today” that “I’m kind of done with politics for now,” and said she hoped instead to help viewers “get yourself through the day, to have a laugh with us, a smile, sometimes a tear – and maybe a little hope to start your day. Some fun! That’s what we want to be doing.”

The mission represents a marked change for the popular »


- Brian Steinberg

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John Landgraf Mounts His Silicon Valley Counteroffensive With New Service FX+

6 hours ago

When FX Networks launched its new commercial-free offshoot, FX+, earlier this month, 16 of its series past and present were offered only to Comcast subscribers for $5.99 per month.

Now the 21st Century Fox-owned cable group is announcing that when FX+ makes Cox Communications its second pay-tv partner in October, the available library will double in size to include many of the series that weren’t included in the Comcast launch, including “Atlanta,” “The Americans” and “Better Things.”

The quick expansion of the FX+ library reflects the importance of the new product to FX Networks CEO John Landgraf, who also oversees channels Fxx and Fxm. But getting as many series as possible under FX+ is requiring his taking a hard stance against the lucrative exclusive licensing pacts with streaming services that cover some of the network’s most prominent original programs of recent years.

Adding “Atlanta,” “Better Things” and 13 other series to FX+ required renegotiating a multi-year output deal »


- Andrew Wallenstein

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Amy Sherman-Palladino, Daniel Palladino Ink Overall Deal at Amazon Studios

7 hours ago

Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino have signed a multi-year overall deal with Amazon Studios, the streamer announced Monday.

The husband and wife team currently serve as executive producers on the Amazon series “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” which is written and directed by Sherman-Palladino. The series was picked up for two seasons in April, the first multi-season order for a new series in Amazon’s history. It follows a 1950’s New York housewife (Rachel Brosnahan) who discovers a talent for stand up comedy. The pilot became available on Amazon Prime in March.

“Amy and Dan are brilliant,” said Joe Lewis, head of comedy, Drama and VR for Amazon Studios. “Everything they create has such an incredible vision behind it. On top of that, they’re wonderfully funny and smart people. Also, Amy has the best hats in show business. We’re excited about the next two seasons of ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ with them and, with »


- Joe Otterson

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California Production Tax Credit Boosting Below-the-Line Work by 12% in 2016

7 hours ago

California’s below-the-line entertainment industry employees saw a 12% hike in hours worked in 2016, compared with 2014, the state’s film commission reported Monday.

The commission said the hike was due to the expansion of the state’s Film and Television Tax Credit Program, which is aimed at halting the erosion of California-based production to states with bigger incentives, such as Georgia and New York. The annual allocation was increased during the 2015-16 fiscal year from $100 million to $330 million, and applications are ranked on how many jobs they will produce, rather than being selected by lottery.

The report said the expanded Program 2.0 has attracted or retained 100 film and television projects generating an estimated $3.7 billion in direct in-state spending, including $1.4 billion in below-the-line wages.

“The encouraging short-term results we reported in last year’s annual report have evolved into sustained and very encouraging long-term results for Program 2.0,” said California Film Commission Executive Director Amy Lemisch. “The »


- Dave McNary

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Ed Sheeran, Migos to Perform on MTV’s ‘Trl’ Premiere

7 hours ago

MTV announced today that the first guests on its “TRL” reboot will be British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran and Atlanta hip-hop trio Migos. The first installment of the revived show will air on Oct. 2.

TRL” will air live weekdays at 3:30 p.m. ETfrom MTV’s newly expanded Times Square studio. “TRL” is hosted by D.C. Young Fly along with the show’s “squad,” which includes Tamara Dhia, Amy Pham, Erik Zachary, Lawrence Jackson and content creators such as Liza Koshy and The Dolan Twins.

In rebooting the series, which was enormously popular in its initial 1998-2008 run, the network is making significant efforts to snare its young target audience. According to a press release, the show “will integrate linear, social and digital elements and bring teen passion points to life, while continuing to incorporate audience requests.” Clips from the main show will be immediately distributed to social media, supplemented by original digital segments, short-form »


- Variety Staff

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Don Rickles and Billy Crystal Reminisce About Comedy Through the Years in ‘Dinner With Don’ (Exclusive)

8 hours ago

Before Don Rickles passed away just a month shy of his 91st birthday in April 2017, he shot a new talk show style short-form series entitled “Dinner with Don” for Aarp Studios. Now, just months later, Aarp is premiering the full series online and Variety has obtained Billy Crystal’s episode exclusively.

“You don’t get to meet a living legend that often, you just don’t. But here was someone who was so uniquely beloved in the community for decades, and we realized we had a hand in a masterclass in comedy,” producer and director Bobby Bauer tells Variety. “In the case of Billy and Don, we had two giants in comedy, gifted beyond compare in their own rights, in that one episode.”

In a true example of “build it and they will come,” Bauer’s Stamper Lumber Co. had Rickles attached to the show concept, and that was enough to get Jeffrey Eagle, vice »


- Danielle Turchiano

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Amazon Secures Global Rights to German Gangster Drama ‘4 Blocks’

9 hours ago

Amazon Prime Video has secured global rights to “4 Blocks,” the Berlin-set gangster drama that world-premiered at the Berlin Film Festival. The six-part series, produced by TNT Serie and Wiedemann & Berg, was previously broadcast on TNT in Germany, Romania and Poland, where it garnered strong ratings.

“4 Blocks” will now be available worldwide on Amazon Prime Video starting Oct. 4. The initial rollout will span 150 countries, including the U.S., Canada and the U.K. In another 50 countries, including Germany, France and Russia, “4 Blocks” will be available from next summer.

The series focuses on Ali “Toni” Hamady, who wants to turn away from crime but who gets swept up in it again after his brother-in-law is arrested. Toni takes over as leader of the family syndicate, which is based in Berlin’s edgy Neukölln district.

“With ‘4 Blocks,’ we took the risk of financing a series almost entirely on our own, and also handling distribution sales for the first time. We »


- Elsa Keslassy

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