As Secretary of State John Kerry lent support to Ukraine’s fledging government today and took another verbal shot at Russia, NBC News said this afternoon it has added former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael A. McFaul as an analyst. McFaul will contribute across the NBCUniversal News Group — including NBC News, MSNBC, and CNBC — contributing his perspective and expertise to coverage of foreign affairs and national security. McFaul’s post in Russia ended last week. He already appeared Monday night on NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams and this morning on Today and MSNBC’s Morning Joe to discuss the situation unfolding in Ukraine.
For the third time in her career, Ellen DeGeneres was asked to host a Hollywood awards ceremony after a tragedy — this time the tragedy being Seth MacFarlane’s Hollywood-savaging Oscars hosting of a year ago. Ellen hosted the twice-delayed Emmy Awards after the September 2001 terrorist attacks and, four years later, after Hurricane Katrina. Tonight she hosted the first Academy Awards since MacFarlane opened the Oscars with “We Saw Your Boobs” and followed it up with a crack about John Wilkes Booth (rather than nominee Daniel Day-Lewis) being the actor who best got into President Lincoln’s head.
“For those of you watching us around the world, it’s been a tough couple of days for us. It has been raining. We’re fine – thank you for your prayers,” DeGeneres joked as she opened tonight’s ABC broadcast — a nod to her deft hosting of the aforementioned Emmy broadcasts, including that twice-postponed ’01 Emmys, which she’d opened with the observation: “What would bother the Taliban more than seeing a gay woman in a suit surrounded by Jews” to gales of laughter.
Related: OSCARS: Deadline’s Live Blog
When tonight’s disjointed show finally ended, a minute or two into Monday morning for about a third of the country’s TV viewers who live on the East Coast, DeGeneres had reminded us she’s likeable as all get out, but her improvised bits did not work so well – Amy Poehler and Tina Fey did it much better at the Golden Globes. She’d called Liza Minnelli “sir”, complimented “him” on his great Liza Minnelli impersonation; shamed Harvey Weinstein into putting $200 bucks into Pharrell’s hat, which she was passing around to collect money to pay for the product-placement pizza she ordered for the A-listers in the front rows; pocketed and used best supporting actress winner Lupita Nyong’o’s pizza-collection contribution (a lip gloss); and maybe crashed Twitter shortly after piling about a dozen celebrities into one selfie during the broadcast in an attempt to break the record for most re-tweets (it was pushing 2 million by the time the trophy show was over, causing the Motion Picture Academy to apologize for contributing to the Twitter traffic jam).
First Ronan Farrow slammed the Golden Globes on January 12 for their tribute to Woody Allen, and now the MSNBC host has given a slap to the Oscars. “Tomorrow on Ronan Farrow Daily: exclusive interview with Ellen DeGeneres’s cravat,” said Farrow on Twitter tonight. “Jared Leto continues his steady ascent into being Jesus,” he added about the Best Actor in a Supporting Role winner. “Next year’s Oscars will be three solid hours of pizza delivery,” Farrow said about Ellen’s network time-filler gag.
Jared Leto continues his steady ascent into being Jesus.
— Ronan Farrow (@RonanFarrow) March 3, 2014
Truth be told, the snide lame comments might actually help Farrow’s ratings, which haven’t exactly been stellar since his weak February 24 debut. Seems like Farrow’s watching a delayed broadcast of tonight’s Oscars because he also tweeted that “You know what the Oscars needed more of? Montages” and “Pharrell is married to that hat” nearly 45 long minutes after the latter’s performance of his Oscar nominated “Happy” tune happened. Wonder what Farrow or his mother Mia will be saying if Cate Blanchett wins Best Actress for her role in Allen’s Blue Jasmine or if the man himself wins Best Original Screenplay?
NBC‘s Today show has tried to hang on to its Sochi ratings bump with a week-long Love Your Selfie campaign that this morning included a First Daughter to First Lady talk about childhood obesity. Its second week of Sochi broadcasts during Olympic competition, Today scored 5.844 million viewers, which was down 6% from the previous week’s 6.134 million viewers. Today logged 2.310 million news-demo viewers, slipping 8% from previous 2.506 million. Today outperformed ABC’s Good Morning America, which logged 5.590 million viewers overall last week, and 2.174 million in the demo. Today’s advantage over GMA in total viewers grew by 54% week-to-week, though its demo advantage slipped 16%. Watch Today‘s former First Daughter correspondent Jenna Bush Hager interview First Lady Michelle Obama:
MSNBC‘s Ronan Farrow Daily slipped slightly in its second telecast Tuesday, averaging 209,000 viewers — 45,000 of them in the news demo – but his audience crept up to 34,000 in the younger 18-49 demo. Still, even his young demo numbers fell short of one year ago, when Andrea Mitchell Reports logged 492,000 viewers in the time slot on the comparable Tuesday, including 123,000 in the news demo and 106,000 in the 18-49 demo. Mitchell’s program also averaged 382,000 viewers ages 50 and older, while Ronan Farrow yesterday clocked 174,000 in that age bracket, so his show can be said to be skewing younger. Farrow’s lead-out, The Reid Report, scored 307,00 viewers and 79,000 in the news demo on Tuesday.
Farrow’s debut Monday scored 216,000 viewers — the cable network’s smallest audience of the day, tied with 10 AM’s Jansing & Co. Farrow — who was recruited, in part, to attract the next generation of news viewers to the network — averaged just 21,000 viewers in the younger 18-49 demo Monday. Among 25- to 54-year-olds, he logged an average of 46,000 viewers. His biggest audience by far was among viewers ages 50 and older — 195,000 of them. That older skew is typical of news programming but might be somewhat surprising given how assiduously he catered to younger viewers during his maiden broadcast.
Katie Couric To Play Talk Show Host, Alec Baldwin To Play Controversial Newspaper Columnist On NBC’s ‘Law & Order: SVU’
Alec Baldwin continues to leave public life, in a New York Magazine cover story called “Good-Bye Public Life” and now, in a role on one of the country’s most watched TV series. NBC made it official today that Baldwin will guest star as a controversial New York newspaper columnist, in an upcoming episode of Law & Order: SVU. Word of this guest gig got out earlier this month. But it wasn’t well known that Katie Couric will play herself — a TV show show host, that is — who grills Baldwin, as controversial New York newspaper columnist Jimmy MacArthur about the headline grabbing hate crime/rape case.
NBC wisely waited until Baldwin’s New York Magazine cover story came out and he was once again on the minds of the media to confirm he will play MacArthur, who questions the SVU squad’s motives during the investigation. Icing on the cake: show star Mariska Hargitay is directing — her debut.
“In our story, ‘Jimmy Mac’s’ reporting interferes with the investigation, which has a ripple effect when the case goes to trial,” EP Warren Leight explained in the announcement, adding that the chemistry between Baldwin and Hargitay “is palpable.”
The episode will air Wednesday, March 19.
Ronan Farrow‘s debut as host of Ronan Farrow Daily on MSNBC scored 216,000 viewers Monday — the cable network’s smallest audience of the day, tied with 10 AM’s Jansing & Co. Farrow — who was recruited, in part, to attract the next generation of news viewers to the network — averaged just 21,000 viewers in the younger 18-49 demo. Among 25- to 54-year-olds, he logged an average of 46,000 viewers. His biggest audience by far was among viewers ages 50 and older — 195,000 of them. That older skew is typical of news programming but might be somewhat surprising given how assiduously he catered to younger viewers during his maiden broadcast.
Farrow recruited fewer viewers — and fewer young ones — than did Andrea Mitchell Reports in its new timeslot. Mitchell’s show logged 223,000 overall viewers, including 48,000 viewers in the 18-49 demo, and 71,000 in the news demo — 25-54. Mitchell’s show, ironically, did not do as well with the 50+ crowd as did Farrow, scoring an average of 174,000 of them. The only program that scored a smaller crowd of 18- to 49-year-olds on MSNBC that day was the show that followed Farrow’s, The Reid Report — the other new program making its debut that day, hosted by Joy Reid. It clocked 262,000 overall viewers, just 14,000 in that younger demo, 38,000 in the news demo, and 245,000 viewers ages 50+.
February Cable News Numbers: CNN Tumbles As Fox News Channel Logs 146th Consecutive Win; MSNBC Hangs On
February cable ratings are in – Piers Morgan may be out at CNN, but what about the rest of the network’s primetime, which looked none too good for the month, all losing around half their audience compared to same month last year? CNN‘s Anderson Cooper at 8 PM dropped 47% February to February in overall audience to average 421,000 viewers, and 46% in the news demo to 127,000 viewers for the month, according to Nielsen. In his defense, Cooper’s lead-in, Erin Burnett Outfront, dropped 39% to post an average of 293,000 viewers in February – CNN’s smallest monthly haul in the timeslot in more than two decades — and slipped 32% in the news demo to 100,000 viewers. Morgan’s getting scrubbed from 9 PM at CNN because, for instance, he logged 347,000 viewers for the month — down 46% – and 100,000 demo viewers — down 38%.
Meanwhile, Fox News Channel has now reached 146 consecutive months at No. 1 in total viewers, in both total day and primetime, among cable news networks, and is for February the only cable network up in both total viewers and the demo compared to last February. In all of cable, Fox News ranked third in primetime (8-11 PM) – behind USA Network and History – and fifth for total day. Meanwhile, neither CNN or MSNBC were able to crack the top 20 in either daypart. CNN ranked 39th in prime and 34th in today day; MSNBC 26th in prime and 27th in total day. Every hour of the day, Fox News dominated CNN and MSNBC combined in total viewers. It also beat both networks in the news demo.
Alec Baldwin Announces Retirement From Public Life In Magazine Cover, Calls MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow “Phony”
Former NBC comedy star and MSNBC interview host Alec Baldwin has announced in a New York Magazine cover story that he is quitting public life after being let go by MSNBC over language he used in an on-the-street rant against a photographer. In the piece, Baldwin calls MSNBC star Rachel Maddow a “phony” who doesn’t have the same passion for the truth off-camera as she appears to have on-camera,” according to the interview that was published late last night. In late November, MSNBC and Alec Baldwin‘s camp announced jointly that Baldwin’s Friday show was toast: “We are jointly confirming that Up Late will not continue on MSNBC,” the cable network and Baldwin rep Matthew Hiltzik said. Added MSNBC: “This is a mutual parting and we wish Alec all the best.” It was the first MSNBC had spoken about Up Late’s suspension, Baldwin having announced earlier that month the network had suspended his show for two weeks. That came after TMZ posted a video clip in which he was seen tearing into a photographer with what the press reported sounded like at least one gay slur and possibly two, though Baldwin denied uttering the second one, and said he did not realize the first was a slur.
Tamron Hall joins Al Roker, Natalie Morales and Willie Geist at 9 AM. A regular fill-in host on Today, Hall has most recently interviewed Hugh Jackman, Mariah Carey, and Instagram’s CEO Kevin Systrom for the show. In addition to her role on the morning infotainment program, Hall is the anchor of MSNBC’s NewsNation which launched in 2010. Hall joined MSNBC in 2007 and has since hosted several special reports for MSNBC and NBC News. Hall also hosts Investigation Discovery’s Deadline: Crime With Tamron Hall and TLC’s Sister Wives — produced by NBC News’ Peacock Productions.
Al Roker Makes Up With NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio As ‘Today’ Looks To Keep Ratings Up Post-Sochi: Video
Today show weatherman Al Roker kissed and made up with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on the program this morning when the mayor came to cut the ribbon on the show’s revamped Rockefeller Center outside space. It’s part of Today’s campaign to hang on to the ratings bump it enjoyed in Sochi, which put the show back on top of the morning show pile.
“We’ve got Mayor Bill de Blasio,” Roker announced, though he needn’t have bothered – the mayor was hard to miss, towering over the Today show team, and Roker barely came up to his shoulders. ‘We’ll get this out of the way,” Roker opened. “We had a little chat about school closings and snow; we both want the best for school kids and our city.”
Veteran TV journalist Garrick Utley has died following a long battle with cancer, NBC News said today. He was 74. Utley began his career at NBC News in 1963, reporting for the next 30 years for the network. In the early years he reported on Vietnam and later went on to moderate Meet The Press. He also anchored Weekend Today and Sunday Nightly News. He eventually left NBC to become the chief foreign correspondent for ABC News and later reported for CNN from 1997-2002. Here’s a clip from the Today show, which announced Utley’s death this morning.
NBC’s Today team this morning celebrated making the opening monologue in Jimmy Fallon’s celebrity-strewn Tonight Show debut last night. “The screaming actually came from their sled,” Jimmy Fallon had joked as he showed a clip of spandex-ed Al Roker and Matt Lauer making their return to the luge, on the Olympic track in Sochi. “You can’t unsee that,” Fallon snarked.
‘Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon’ Debut Ratings Tie Conan O’Brien’s 2009 Premiere
Robert De Niro, Tina Fey, Lady Gaga, Joan Rivers & Kim Kardashian Surprise Jimmy Fallon On His First ‘Tonight Show’: Video
Jimmy Fallon’s First ‘Tonight Show’: Will Smith, U2, De Niro And Olympic Fever
UPDATE, 8:30 AM: NBC has issued a news release about Bob Costas’ decision to end his streak of 157 nights of Olympics coverage. The network reiterated what Costas announced this morning on Today: that Matt Lauer will host NBC’s Olympic primetime and late-night shows tonight in place of Costas, who has an eye infection. In the news release, Costas says he bowed out tonight because, “as a practical matter, I simply couldn’t do my job because my eyes had become so blurry, watery and sensitive to light.” He added: “I’m hopeful the symptoms will improve in the next couple of days and I can return to the broadcast. Also, the last thing I want is to go through the rest of my life owing Matt Lauer a bunch of favors.”
Tonight marks the first time since CBS presented the Nagano Olympic Winter Games in 1998 that someone other than Costas will host an Olympics primetime show. It’s also the first time since 1988 that someone other than Costas will host the Olympic primetime show on NBC — a remarkable 157 straight nights. “I’m happy to keep his chair warm. Although I might Purell it before I sit in it!” Lauer said in the announcement, which noted Costas is listed as ‘day to day’ on the NBC injury report.
Costas’ full statement:
CNN has added Michael Smerconish to its Saturday morning line-up. Smerconish will host a new weekly program that will air live on Saturday mornings from New York, it was announced today by CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker. Smerconish will also provide analysis and opinion on CNN programming throughout the week. He joins the network this month. From today’s announcement: