Al Jazeera America To Air Docu On Low-Income Living In U.S. From Producers Of ‘Hoop Dreams’, ‘Life Itself,’ ‘New Americans,’ ‘Trials Of Muhammad Ali’

By | Thursday April 17, 2014 @ 12:20pm PDT

CNN isn’t the only cable news networkaljazeeralogo2 going in for documentary series. Al Jazeera America today announced its latest collaboration –  with Kartemquin Films on Hard Earned, a six-part documentary series exploring low-income life in America. Hard Earned is being executive produced by Kartemquin’s Steve James, Gordon Quinn, and Justine Nagan, who were responsible for Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters, The Trials of Muhammad Ali and recent Sundance hit Life Itself, among other documentaries.

Five stories, set in San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Milwaukee, and two in the Chicago area, will be intertwined into six one-hour episodes. The series will shed more light on an ever-growing sector of the American workforce. “Low wage jobs are the fastest growing sector of employment in the American economy,” says executive producer Steve James. Kartemquin’s previous multi-part series, The New Americans, a seven-hour series on immigration produced for PBS in 2004, was an International Documentary Association award-winner for Best Limited Series. Al Jazeera America is available in more than 51 million homes in the U.S. on Comcast, Time Warner Cable, DirecTV, Dish Network and Verizon FiOS.

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The ABCs Of Aereo: What Is Aereo And Why Are Broadcasters Taking It To The Supreme Court?

By and | Wednesday April 16, 2014 @ 1:01pm EDT

Editors Note: The first of three Deadline posts that lay out the issues in the Aereo case, which Deadline Legal Editor Dominic Patten will cover from the Supreme Court next week. Today: A primer about Aereo and what’s at stake in the dispute with broadcasters.

U.S. Supreme Court justices are so mistrustful of technology that they bar TV cameras from their proceedings and require visitors to check their smartphones at the door.What Is Aereo But on April 22 they will take an hour to hear arguments in a case that could re-shape television and the Internet. All of the major broadcast companies are challenging the legality of an upstart streaming service: Aereo, a company backed by IAC chief Barry Diller that began to sign up subscribers in New York City in February 2012. The issues both sides will raise are complicated. But the controversy boils down to an important question: What rights do broadcasters and citizens have to content on the publicly owned airwaves?

Related: It’s On! – Supreme Court Agrees To Hear Aereo Case

Q: How does Aereo work?
A: Subscribers in the cities Aereo serves pay a minimum of $8 a month. That gives them exclusive access to one of its thousands of dime-sized antennas that pick up free, local, over-the-air broadcasts. The company then streams the live programming in the same local market to subscribers’ Web-connected TVs, computers, or mobile devices.

Aereo info graphic

Q: Does it just stream live TV?
A: Aereo also offers a remote storage DVR. Just like with a home DVR, each customer can choose programs to record, and then watch later with the same fast-forward and rewind capabilities. The difference is that the digital files are kept on Aereo’s servers, not on a hard drive in the home. Those who pay $8 per month get 20 hours of DVR storage each month and access to one antenna, while those paying $12 get 60 hours and access to two antennas.

Aereo mapQ: Where can people subscribe?
A: Aereo began in New York, and now also is available in Boston, Atlanta, Detroit, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Dallas, Austin, Houston, Miami, and San Antonio. It plans to launch in cities including Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Chicago, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, and Kansas City.

Q: Why does that bother broadcasters?
A: Aereo doesn’t pay local TV stations when it streams their programming. Broadcasters say that infringes on their copyrights. Read More »

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Deadline Big Media 80 – Comcast Goes To Congress Podcast

By and | Friday April 11, 2014 @ 8:22pm EDT

Deadline Big Media ep 80In this week’s podcast, Deadline’s executive editor David Lieberman and host David Bloom untangle the latest twists in the giant Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger proposal, as a Senate committee grills Comcast’s “Jedi Master” of a chief lobbyist and Charter prepares a challenge at the TWC annual meeting. The Davids also talk about the very different tone of two just-signed retransmission deals, at least compared to last year’s Time Warner Cable-CBS brawl; how IMAX reduced its stake in China while increasing its influence; and this week’s National Association of Broadcasters conference, where FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler urged broadcasters to think like “tech disruptors” and NAB chief Gordon Smith called for a federal plan for broadcasting.

Deadline Big Media podcast 80 (.MP3 version)
Deadline Big Media podcast 80 (.M4A version)

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L.A. Mayor Praises “Dear Friend” Tom Sherak In State Of The City Speech

garcetti april 10 speechThe city’s first Film Czar was praised by LA Mayor Eric Garcetti today in his inaugural State of the City address. “With the help of my dear friend the late Tom Sherak and Ken Ziffren, who’s continued the fight, we reignited the movement to expand film tax credits in Sacramento,” said the SAG-AFTRA card carrying politician this evening. A couple of months after Garcetti took office, the former AMPAS president and studio exec was named head of LA’s Film Office late last September in an effort to expand and evolve production in the city after years of decline due to runaway production. After

sherak__130926172434Sherak passed away on January 28, heavyweight entertainment lawyer Ziffren was appointed LA’s second Film Czar on February 10. “In just nine months, we are changing the landscape—one summer job, one red button, one film production and one balanced budget at a time.”

Related:
L.A. Move For Colbert’s ‘Late Show’ Unlikely As Pols Continue To Pitch CBS
New Film & TV Tax Credit Bill Unanimously Passes First Hurdle In Sacramento

One production that looks pretty likely not to be coming to LA is CBS’ Late Show when Stephen Colbert takes over from David Letterman next year. Despite personal pitches earlier this week from Garcetti and Ziffren, the late night show seems certain to stay in the Big Apple. Still, Garcetti also made a point in his speech at the California Science … Read More »

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UPDATE: Senate Committee Expresses Skepticsm Over Comcast-Time Warner Cable Merger

Comcast-Time-Warner-Cable-logos__140213130107-150x150__140213191744UPDATED: The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing into Comcast’s $45.2B acquisition of Time Warner Cable wrapped after three hours today. And Comcast EVP David Cohen upheld his reputation as a lobbying Jedi Master, although critics of the deal scored by pointing out how it could lead to higher prices and problems for independent programmers. Senate Judiciary Cmte Holds Hearing On Comcast-Time Warner Cable MergerCohen started off strong in his opening statement: He cast his company as the embodiment of the American Dream — and announced that it has more than 1M WiFi hot spots with plans to boost their transmission speeds. “This is the 13th time we’ve increased Internet speeds in 12 years,” he says. Public Knowledge’s Gene Kimmelman — a former Justice Department antitrust lawyer — hit back. He charged that it would be “anathema to Comcast” if programmers want to offer content directly to consumers via the Internet for a low cost. The cable giant is committed to “charging top dollar” and, as owner of NBCUniversal, would be like an octopus with tentacles “each capable of squeezing innovation.”

In regard to pricing, Cohen said, in response to a question from committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), that “there is nothing in this transaction that will make anyone’s bills go up….Consumers today are in the driver’s seat.” He added later that programming costs have appreciated 98% over the last decade. Later he told Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) — who wanted to know whether shareholders would demand higher prices — us-senate-logo_20110526180215that “we have made it a point of significant discussion about our need to continue to invest to compete better with national and global competitors.” Kimmelman responded that Comcast is in the driver’s seat in the highly concentrated video and broadband markets. “The squeeze will come from Comcast,” he says. “It’s logical. They want to save money….and it could lead to significant price increases for others.”

Franken had Cohen against the ropes in a discussion about Comcast’s efforts to push customers to buy multiple or upgraded products. “When you train [sales]people to upsell, you’re not training them to sell the stand-alone product.” Cohen said that “we are allowed to train people to upsell,” but sales reps also “have to be aware of the stand-alone product” and provide it on request. Read More »

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Hearst Television Stations Blacked Out On Dish Network In Latest Retrans Tiff

By | Tuesday April 8, 2014 @ 9:23pm PDT

DishNetwork__130702025735-200x151__130918204554__130927000627More than two dozen network-affiliated Hearst Television stations went dark on the satcaster tonight after the sides hit a wall in their retransmission talks. Dish Network‘s carriage deal with Hearst TV expired March 1, but the parties had extended the deadline to tonight at 7 PM Pacific. The blackout affects more than two dozen Hearst stations including ABC affil WCVB in Hearst TelevisionBoston, the nation’s No. 7 TV market, and outlets in top 25 markets Sacramento, Pittsburgh and Tampa, FL. It comes the same day that the Weather Channel and satellite giant DirecTV settled their carriage dispute and seven months after Time Warner Cable and CBS settled their bitter retrans fight.

Related: FCC Chairman Eyes Limits On Local TV Alliances For Retrans Deals

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The Weather Channel Returns To DirecTV

By | Tuesday April 8, 2014 @ 2:41pm EDT

Weather Channel DirecTVThe companies aren’t disclosing financial terms, but DirecTV appears to have won some major concessions, including an apology. The Weather Channel (to appear on channel 362) will cut its reality programming by half on weekdays. It also will return instant local weather and authorize DirecTV subscribers to stream its video programming to multiple devices inside and outside the home. And, in a really unusual twist, TWC chief David Kenny apologized to “DirecTV and their customers for the disruption of our service and for initiating direcTV__130523212608a public campaign. Our viewers deserve better than a public dispute, and we pledge to reward their loyalty with exceptional programming and more weather focused news.” DirecTV Chief Content Officer Dan York crowed that while the dispute was “frustrating for many of our customers … their patience was ultimately rewarded with a better deal and a better product.”

Related: TWC Pushing Public Safety Image After DirecTV Blackout

DirecTV dropped TWC on January 14. The channel wanted a penny increase in the price DirecTV pays for it. (It averages 13 cents per subscriber per month across pay TV systems, according to SNL Kagan data.) But DirecTV said it wanted to cut its outlays, noting that TWC too often offers reality programs such as Deadliest Space Weather and Coast Guard Alaska instead of the latest local weather. Last week DirecTV strengthened its bargaining position by reaching a multi-year agreement to offer WeatherNation (on channel 361).

Read More »

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Time Warner Cable, DirecTV In Stalemate Over Dodgers Channel

By | Friday April 4, 2014 @ 12:29pm PDT

SportsNet LA logoDirecTV subscribers apparently will not be watching any Dodgers games in the near future. Talks have broken down with the satellite TV provider and Time Warner Cable, which handles distribution of the MLB team’s new SportsNet LA channel, according to TWC.

Maureen Huff, Time Warner Cable vice president of public relations, told Deadline, “We can confirm that DirecTV has left the negotiating table. We were advised by their negotiating team that they would not counter our last proposal and that conversations were at an end. We are eager for all consumers in the Dodgers footprint to have access to SNLA and we hope that other providers will come on board quickly so that the frustrated DirecTV consumers have alternative options throughout the region.  We will continue to work tirelessly to make that happen. And, in the event that DirecTV would like to re-engage discussions, we stand at the ready to do so 24×7″. Read More »

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MIPTV: DirecTV Acquires Australian Thriller ‘The Code’ Starring Lucy Lawless

By | Thursday, 3 April 2014 09:52 UK

the codeHeading into the Mip-TV market next week, the UK’s DCD Rights has sealed deals on six-part thriller The Code with DirecTV in the U.S., Sundance Channel Latin America and Denmark’s DR. Produced by Australia’s Playmaker, the drama premieres Down Under on ABC1 later this year. Set in the Oz outback, The Code centers on two very different brothers — one a journalist, the other a hacker — who unearth information that those at the highest levels of political power will kill to keep secret. Lucy Lawless stars with Adam Garcia (Camp), David Wenham (Top Of The Lake) and Aden Young (I Frankenstein). DirecTV acquired the series for Audience Network. It was created by Shelley Birse and written by Birse, Blake Ayshford and Justin Monjo. Shawn Seet directs and Playmaker’s David Maher, David Taylor and Birse are producers. DCD, which works with high-profile Aussie titles like The Slap, Rake and A Moody Christmas, is launching The Code at Mip next week.

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UK’s Channel 4 Hires Simon Maxwell To Spearhead International Drama Co-Pros

By | Thursday, 3 April 2014 09:17 UK

Channel 4 logoBritain’s Channel 4 is embellishing its strategy with a new purview to invest in international drama co-productions. The net, which already invests in original British drama as well as boundary-pushing factual entertainment, is joining the likes of ITV, the BBC and Sky in its bid to spread its wings. To spearhead the initiative, former Red Arrow Entertainment Head of Drama & Comedy, Simon Maxwell, is joining Channel 4 in the newly created role of Head of International Drama. Maxwell launched the Red Arrow Group’s UK scripted operation and has worked with U.S. broadcasters including NBC and History Channel. Prior to Red Arrow, he was Head of Film & TV at indie Greenroom Entertainment where he ran a slate that included DirecTV crime drama Rogue. He also exec produced feature Killing Bono, for which he co-wrote the screenplay. Channel 4′s move towards international co-pros should see it benefit from the high-end TV tax credit that has electrified the local production sector and attracted U.S. projects over the past year. Maxwell will be responsible for commissioning a slate of high quality, ambitious drama with international appeal. Among the channel’s recent local commissions are Babylon, for which Danny Boyle directed the pilot, and mystery/sci-fi series Utopia. Its U.S. and European pick-ups include upcoming series Fargo, France’s The Returned, Showtime’s Homeland, comedy Brooklyn Nine Nine and new Norwegian thriller Mammon .

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Will DirecTV’s New Deal With WeatherNation Leave The Weather Channel In The Cold?

By | Wednesday April 2, 2014 @ 4:19pm EDT

WeatherNationThe Weather Channel doesn’t think so, even though the No. 1 satellite service dropped it on January 14.“We have resumed discussions with DirecTV and hope to resolve our differences,” says Weather Channel rep Shirley Powell. But DirecTV strengthened its bargaining position today by reaching a multi-year agreement to offer WeatherNation. The deal ensures our customers will have a service that is DirecTV Weather Channel Disputefully committed to providing all weather related information all the time,” DirecTV Chief Content Officer Dan York says. “The overwhelmingly positive comments we’ve been receiving from customers made the decision to extend our agreement easy and expedient.”

Related: TWC Pushing Public Safety Image After DirecTV Blackout

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DirecTV Orders First Original Comedy Series

By | Tuesday April 1, 2014 @ 11:57am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

DirecTV Weather channelDirecTV will be adapting Peter Ackerman‘s play Things You Shouldn’t Say Past Midnight as its first original comedy series. The satcaster has given a 10-episode order to the project, which will start filming in May for a premiere on Audience Network later this year. This is DirecTV’s third original series, following dramas Rogue, which returns for Season 2 next month, and Full Circle, which was based on Neil LaBute scripts. Penned by Ackerman, Things You Shouldn’t Say is set in Los Angeles and examines a variety of modern-day relationships through the conceit that nothing good happens after midnight. It comes from DirecTV’s go-to producer, Nick Hamm of Momentum TV, who also was involved in Rogue and Full Circle.

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Deadline Big Media 78: The CinemaCon Wrapup Podcast

Deadline Big Media podcast 78 (.MP3 version)In this week’s podcast, Deadline’s Executive Editor David Lieberman and host David Bloom wrap up all the business news out of CinemaCon, the big theater-owner convention that David Lieberman covered last week. Now that he’s back in Deadline’s Manhattan offices, David L. talks with David B. about the hot topics affecting the movie theater business, including a look at the state of the industry, whether movies and alcohol can mix, why it might be time for a discount ticket night, and why you can’t buy a movie ticket on Amazon.

The two Davids also discuss Charter Communications’ “astonishing” filing objecting to the Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal and why Reed Hastings might have some buyer’s remorse over his company’s interconnection pact with Comcast. They also look at whether now is finally the time for a DirecTV/Dish Network merger. Read More »

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Don’t Bet Just Yet On A Dish Network-DirecTV Merger, Analysts Warn

By | Thursday March 27, 2014 @ 2:20pm EDT

Investors seem to be clearing their heads from the adrenaline jolt they experienced yesterday when Bloomberg reported that Dish Network chairman Charlie Ergen recently approached DirecTV CEO Michael White to discuss a potential merger — in part as a response to Comcast’s $45.2B deal to buy Time Warner Cable. Dish DirecTVShares in both satellite companies shot up on the news, but have started to settle as of midday trading today leaving Dish +5.5 over the day and a half period with DirecTV +2.6%. The big surprise in the report was that Ergen is still interested in a deal: He has been focused lately on amassing wireless spectrum to launch a broadband service, and has made skeptical comments about the prospects for traditional satellite TV. But he and White have noted that the companies could save a lot of money — if regulators would let them combine. Read More »

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ESPN Leads All Networks With 30 Sports Emmy Noms, Fox In Second Place

By | Wednesday March 26, 2014 @ 3:20pm PDT

imgresIt’s an awards ceremony that’s will see Ted Turner take home a Lifetime Achievement Award and ESPN hard pressed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. With a lead almost double its nearest competitor, the cable channel scored 30 noms from NATAS today as the 35th Annual Sports Emmy Emmy__120829153557-e1346254570840Awards nominations were announced. Fox is in second place with 18 noms, while HBO  has 15, NBC and NBC Sports Network pulled in 14 nominations each and MLB Network got a lucky 13. Overall, ESPN’s various channels and platforms got 46 noms while NBC Sports Group snagged 33 and CBS-owned channels got 18 nominations. The Sports Emmys has 39 categories including Outstanding Live Sports Special, Outstanding Live Sports Series, Outstanding Playoff Coverage, Outstanding Sports Documentary and Outstanding Sports Journalism. Coming off a Winter Olympics in which he was laid low by an eye infection, NBC’s Bob Costas is nominated in the Sports Personality – Studio Host Category along with CBS/Showtime’s James Brown, CBS’ Greg Gumbel, Golf Channel’s David Feherty and network multitasker Dan Patrick, who appears on NBC, NBCSN and DirecTV. With America’s Cup winner, former Atlanta Braves owner and CNN founder Turner getting the Lifetime Achievement honor, the Sports Emmys winners will be announced May 6 at the Time Warner Center in NYC. In the meantime, check out the full list of nominations here.

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El Rey Network Renews ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’ For Second Season

By | Wednesday March 26, 2014 @ 9:28am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

DUSK Key ArtTwo weeks into its run, El Rey Network‘s first original scripted series, From Dusk Till Dawn, has been picked up for a 13-episode second season. Because El Rey — available on Comcast, DirecTV and Time Warner Cable — is an ustart, it is not yet measured by Nielsen, so no ratings data for the show is available. But From Dusk Till Dawn has been bringing in coin from distribution pacts, including a deal with Netflix, which carries the series in key international El-Rey-Network (1)territories and is on board for Season 2, and a DVD/EST agreement with eOne for the U.S. and Canada, which makes From Dusk Till Dawn episodes available on Amazon, iTunes, Sony Playstation, Xbox, Vudu, Google Play, Cinemanow, Blackberry and Target Ticket after their El Rey premiere. “As the television landscape becomes even more crowded, it’s important for El Rey Network to have a recurring and memorable franchise that speaks to our audience and allows us to break away from the noise of all the competition,” El Rey vice chair Scott Sassa said. “From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series is most certainly that kind of property and we are thrilled with the response from our affiliate partners, advertisers, viewers and the international community.”

From Dusk Till Dawn is based on the cult classic film of the same name by El Rey co-founder Robert Rodriguez, who created the series and directed four of the first season’s installments. “This is a truly unique property and one that has really resonated for viewers,” he said. “It has been a joy to bring these characters back to life and have the opportunity to take our storytelling to a whole new place.” From Dusk Till Dawn will be followed by El Rey’s second scripted series, action drama Matador, which is in production. Read More »

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DirecTV CEO Makes $12.5M In 2013, A 31% Drop Due To Cut In Option Awards

By | Thursday March 20, 2014 @ 4:56pm EDT

At first glance the compensation for Michael White listed in DirecTV‘s new proxy statement looks like a big pay cut. Michael WhiteBut it may simply reflect an accounting fluke: The satellite company gave him $12M in option awards in 2012 that were recorded in his tally for that year, even though they vest over three years. In any event, he ends up with a tidy $12.5M for 2013 including $1.7M salary, $4.5M in stock awards, $1.6M in option awards, $4.3M in non equity incentives, $211,247 change in pension value, and $333,193 in other compensation. That last category includes $64,491 for his personal use of the company plans as well as $20,000 to match his charitable contributions. DirecTV shares appreciated 37.7% last year. White’s package is 2.7 times the median for his four top lieutenants, which is slightly below the threshold of 3X that many corporate governance experts say suggests a CEO’s pay is out of whack. The proxy shows that 6.9% of DirecTV shares are owned by Berkshire Hathaway, the company controlled by billionaire investor Warren Buffett who takes a dim view of bloated executive pay. DirecTV’s annual meeting will be held in New York on April 29.

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Fox Teams With Samsung To Support Ultra HD Home Entertainment

Fox Home EntertainmentConsider this to be an upgrade to the Ultra High Definition programming deal that the companies announced earlier this year at International CESAt the time, Fox said that it would provide Samsung with a storage device, called the UHD Video Pack, that would include content from different studios including Fox’s Night At The Museum, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and The Counselor. Now the companies say that they have a “strategic partnership” designed to establish “a secure and sustainable next-generation…content ecosystem.” Fox’s visually crisp 4K content will work across the Samsung Smart Hub platform — including the curved screen TV sets that created a stir at the consumer electronics show. In addition the companies will  ”explore additional collaboration opportunities in multiple areas of innovation with the goal of creating immersive next-generation consumer experiences.” Although the announcement is vague, Fox Home Entertainment President Mike Dunn says that the partnership will help them to offer UHD “to audiences around the world” as the companies become “laser-focused” on the goal of bringing the technology “to the living room for people to own and enjoy.” Samsung expects there to be 60M UHD TVs in the market in three years. 

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Dark Ratings Cloud Forming Over Sam Champion’s New Weather Channel Show

Day 2 of America’s Morning Headquarters slipped compared to Day 1, which itself was a drop AMHQin each of its hours from the network’s prior four-week average. Sam Champion‘s new Weather Channel program lobbed 186,000 viewers from 7-10 AM Tuesday, 59,000 of them in the news demo. In overall audience, the show’s second telecast dropped 10% compared to Monday’s premiere — and 21% from the prior four-week average in the block of time. In the news demo, AMHQ‘s 59,000 viewers was a fall of 8% compared to its premiere and down 20% from the prior four-week average.

Related: Sam Champion Leaves ‘GMA’ For Weather Channel

While weather plays a role in Weather Channel ratings — and it still cannot be seen on DirecTV, owing to a carriage dispute that broke out in January — Champion’s first two set of ratings are somewhat surprising, given the amount of promotion his network and parent NBCUniversal put behind his launch, including appearances on Howard Stern’s radio show, NBC’s Today, MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Entertainment Tonight, Extra, Inside Edition, etc.

Related: TCA: Weather Channel Tells Critics DirecTV Is Putting Americans At Risk

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