UPDATE: CNN’s Piers Morgan Signs Off With Final Blast At U.S. Gun Laws (Video)

By | Saturday March 29, 2014 @ 12:20pm PDT

Piers Morgan TonightUPDATE, SATURDAY 12:20 PM: Watch the departing Piers Morgan deliver his CNN farewell and gun control speech below.

PREVIOUS, FRIDAY 7:20 PM: Piers Morgan wrapped his three-year CNN run tonight with (gasp!) a full hour of discussion about the missing plane. But in his four-minute final remarks, he couldn’t resist taking a parting shot at the NRA. “I assumed that after 70 people were shot in a movie theater, and then, just a few months later, 20 first-graders were murdered with an assault rifle in an elementary school, the absurd gun laws in this country would change,” he said. “But nothing has happened. The gun lobby in America, led by the NRA, has bullied this nation’s cnnlogo__140117174347-275x131politicians into cowardly, supine silence. Even when 20 young children are blown away in their classrooms. This is a shameful situation that has made me very angry.” He continued to rail and wrapped it with this: “But I’ve made my point. … Now it’s down to you. It’s your country; these are your gun laws. And the senseless slaughter will only end when enough Americans stand together and cry: Enough!” As the camera began to pan out, the British expat delivered his final words on the ratings-challenged Piers Morgan Live: “Goodnight, thank you, and God bless America. Oh, and while I’m at it, God bless Great Britain too.” Here’s the full transcript of Morgan’s “cheerio” to American television:

Related: CNN’s Piers Morgan Says Ta-Ta To ‘Piers Morgan Live’

This is the final episode of Piers Morgan Live. After 3yrs, 2months, 11 days and over 1000 shows, I am departing to spend more time with my cricket bat. I would like to thank my amazing team, led with great skill and tireless enthusiasm by my friend and Executive Producer, Jonathan Wald. And John Ferriter, my irrepressible manager, who landed me this fascinating, unpredictable, challenging but hugely enjoyable job. We won some, we lost some, but we gave it everything we had, and I have loved every minute. Well, almost every minute!

I’d also like to thank you all for watching. Even those who implacably disagreed with me, or just found my funny accent annoying. Regular viewers will know that the issue of gun control has been a consistent and often very controversial part of this show.
And I want to say something more about that before I bow out.

Related: CNN’s ‘Piers Morgan Live’ Ratings Sink To Second Lowest Ever

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PILOT SEASON 2014: Network Casting Chiefs On This Season’s Biggest Challenges, Casting Coups & Fresh Faces

By | Friday March 21, 2014 @ 5:00pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Network Pilot Casting InterviewsSpring arrived yesterday, bringing the end of the annual two-month mad dash known as pilot casting season. Heading into pilot season this year, there was a lot of concern that the proliferation of original scripted programming on cable and digital platforms would put an additional strain on broadcast pilot casting, further depleting the talent pool. Going head-to-head with the casting of more than a dozen cable and digital pilots/series — including multiple-pilot slates on TNT, Amazon and FX and high-profile series on Viola DavisNetflix, USA and WGA America — the broadcast networks escaped mostly unscathed, successfully casting more that 80 pilots/direct-to-series, with only three comedy pilots rolled because of difficulties finding actors.

RelatedPilot Season 2014: The Overachievers

This pilot season brought an additional wrinkle, with Fox’s Kevin Reilly declaring in January that his network plans to bypass the traditional pilot cycle going forward. There were more straight-to-series and limited/event series orders this season, and several networks started casting a handful of projects early. But overall, it was mostly business as usual, with thousands of castings sessions crammed into eight weeks that resulted in the casting of more that 1,500 roles. We saw Oscar winners and happyendingsnominees like The Help‘s Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer (plus Halle Berry earlier in the season) come to television, TV stars like David Schwimmer, Patricia Arquette, Mary-Louise Parker and Josh Duhamel make a return, and the casts of cancelled shows Happy Endings and Nikita be sought after.

Related: Primetime Pilot Panic!

As we close the book on this year’s casting season, let’s hear from the women (and a man) who were in the middle of it all, leading the casting charge at the broadcast networks. I asked the exhausted heads of casting (“I need a vacation,” one of them exclaimed) Tess Sanchez (Fox), Keli Lee (ABC), Grace Wu (NBC) and Peter Golden (CBS), plus Lori Openden (the CW), whose network doesn’t compete directly with the Big 4 as it targets younger talent, to answer questions about the challenges of this pilot season, progress on cast diversity, their and their competitors’ biggest casting coups, the season’s biggest discoveries, and the toughest roles and types to cast. (Find out how many child actors Fox saw for the Bruce Wayne role in Gotham.) Here are their answers:

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ABC Drama Pilots ‘Agatha’, ‘The Visitors’ & ‘Sea Of Fire’ Add To Casts

By | Friday February 21, 2014 @ 10:28pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

younggoldingMeta Golding (The Hunger Games franchise) and Jee Young Han (Young Adult) have been cast in Agatha, from ABC Studios and Mark Gordon Co., about a former convict-turned-big-city criminologist who is brought in to help local police crack a case involving a perplexing disappearance.

Related: 2014 ABC Pilots

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ABC Drama Pilots ‘Warriors’ & ‘How To Get Away With Murder’ Find Directors

By | Friday January 31, 2014 @ 12:30pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

campbellMartin Campbell (Casino Royale) is set to direct ABC‘s drama pilot Warriors, from Chris Keyser, Mandeville and ABC Studios. It follows the best and brightest of active duty military doctors and nurses as they practice trailblazing medicine on critically wounded warriors returning home from Afghanistan, on military families and veterans, as well as administering to Washington’s government elite. This is the third consecutive year on ABC drama pilot duty for Campbell who helmed the pilot for the Sony-produced series Last Resort in 2012 and the ABC Studio pilot Reckless last year. Read More »

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TCA: Deathlok & Lorelei Characters Joining ‘Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.’

By | Thursday January 23, 2014 @ 4:42pm PST

TCADeadline__140109155905The Marvel Comics character Deathlok will appear on ABC‘s Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. beginning next month, Marvel TV chief Jeph Loeb said today during the show’s TCA set visit presentation. Read More »

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TCA: Valerie Plame Says ‘Homeland’ Jumped The Shark, Astronaut Peggy Whitson Critiques Sandra Bullock’s ‘Gravity’ Undies

By | Wednesday January 22, 2014 @ 2:47pm PST

2014 Winter TCA Tour - Day 14TCADeadline__140109155905“He ‘stood by me’ even though our ratings were blockbuster and we kicked Fox’s ass? Thank you for ‘standing by me’,” Kathy Griffin snarked at Winter TV Press Tour 2014 when asked about CNN chief Jeff Zucker saying at the tour he was committed to having Griffin back with Anderson Cooper to host CNN’s New Year’s Eve show.

Griffin came to the final session of Winter TV Press Tour 2014 to participate in a Q&A for PBS’s second round of Makers: Women Who Make America documentaries. She was joined by former CIA agent Valerie Plame, and NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson — all three women are part of the next batch of six one-hour documentaries looking at women’s roles in war, comedy, space, business, Hollywood and politics.
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TCA: ‘Antiques Roadshow’ Expert Says Fans Emptying Wallets For TV Series Sets, Props

By | Tuesday January 21, 2014 @ 1:13pm PST

TCA Among the ancillary markets for producers of TV series with rabid followings: selling props and scraps of sets to fans. “It was not surprising to me Sony sold off a number of Breaking Bad props, and they did … Read More »

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TCA: PBS Orders More ‘Women Who Make America’, Interviews Lena Dunham, Sarah Silverman, Shonda Rhimes

By | Tuesday January 21, 2014 @ 8:27am PST

PBS is partnering with AOL for six new one-hourTCA Deadline documentaries as part of its Makers: Women Who Make America franchise. Scheduled to premiere in June and August 2014, the docus build on the multi-platform initiative founded by filmmaker Dyllan McGee, which launched in 2012. The new series expands on the three-hour PBS documentary  of same name, which premiered in February 2013 and told the story of the American Makers: Women Who Make Americawomen’s movement over the last half-century. Kathy Griffin, former CIA agent Valerie Plame, former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson and the producers of Makers are scheduled to discuss the project at the press tour tomorrow. Among those profiled in the docu-series are Lena Dunham, Chelsea Handler, Shonda Rhimes, and Sarah Silverman. Each of the new documentaries tackles a different sphere of influence, including business, war, space, Hollywood, politics and comedy. Read More »

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TCA: PBS Orders New Math Show From Canadian Kids TV Producer Sinking Ship

By | Tuesday January 21, 2014 @ 7:16am PST

TCA PBS Kids has ordered a new live-action series, Odd Squad, in which two agents, Olive and Otto, are on a mission to save the day using math. Odd Squad is created by Tim McKeon (Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, Adventure Time, The Electric Company) and Adam Peltzman (The Electric Company, The Backyardigans, Wallykazam!), and PBSKids_logoproduced by Canadian kids TV producer Sinking Ship Entertainment and The Fred Rogers Company. The new series is funded in part by the U.S. Department of Education and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Each episode of Odd Squad includes two 11-minute cases in which the agents use math to recapture a gallon-sized blob that has separated into smaller pieces, deal with a slew of unicorns, dinosaurs and wizards that have escaped from books, etc. Read More »

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TCA: Ken Burns’ 10-Year Plan Includes Roosevelts, Cancer, Jackie Robinson, Ernest Hemingway and Vietnam

By | Monday January 20, 2014 @ 8:29pm PST

2014 Winter TCA Tour - Day 12“I’m a pig in shit,” Ken Burns said of his quantity of documentary films in the pipeline. First up: The Address is extremely short by Burns’ standards – under two hours long. It follows a school in TCADeadline__140109155905Vermont that has students each year memorize the Gettysburg Address, delivered by President Lincoln on November 19, 1863 at the dedication of a cemetery on the site of the bloodiest battle ever fought on U.S. soil. It was, Burns noted, not universally embraced at the time – a Chicago newspaper’s review said, “The cheek of every American must tingle with shame as he reads the silly, flat, dishwatery utterances of the man who has to be pointed out to intelligent foreigners as the President of the United States.” The Address airs April 15 at 9 PM on PBS. Read More »

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UPDATE: Benedict Cumberbatch Sentimental About ‘Sherlock’ But Mum About More Seasons After Season 3 Premiere Scores In Ratings

sherlock-season-3-finaleUPDATED WITH TCA PANEL, 4:24 PM: Moving Sherlock has paid off for PBS. Last night’s third-season debut clocked an average audience of nearly 4 million viewers — the franchise’s biggest audience yet, according to Masterpiece exec producer Rebecca Eaton. That’s compared to the 3.2 million who’d watched the Season 2 launch. Sherlock’s move also boosted Downton Abbey last night — the drawing-room drama’s third episode of its fourth season reached an average audience of 8.4 million, up compared to the second episode’s audience of 7.9 million.

Star Benedict Cumberbatch ducked a question as to how many more three-episode seasons of Sherlock he thinks he can handle while appearing this afternoon at the TCA Winter TV Press Tour. Someone with him onstage noted BBC reportedly has said they’ll continue making them until Cumberbatch gets too famous and refuses. “Why is it always me,” Cuberbatch complained/simpered. Masterpiece chief Rebecca Eaton asked PBS chief Paula Kerger to commit to taking as many seasons as Cumberbatch thought he could handle. Kerger, seated in the audience, agreed. Read More »

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TCA: Britcom ‘Vicious’ Retro But Very Contemporary Says Creator & Stars

By | Monday January 20, 2014 @ 1:09pm PST

PBS‘ Britcom Vicious is retro in form, contemporary in subjectTCADeadline__140109155905 matter and could not have been made on a U.S. network owing to the age of its actors, the creator and stars said today at TCA. Vicious stars Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi as Freddie and Stuart, a gay couple who have been together for nearly 5 decades. 2014 Winter TCA Tour - Day 12The comedy, which already has aired its first season in the UK on ITV, would not have been done in the U.S. at this time, because both stars are in their 70s, all parties discussing the show at the Winter TV Press Tour agreed. This came the morning after NBC announced it was developing a sort of Golden Girls update — because, NBC Entertainment chief Bob Greenblatt said, it’s something he’s not seeing on the primetime TV landscape. While TV critics marveled at the show getting made at all — and PBS’ courage in broadcasting it, starting in July — McKellen, appearing via satellite, insisted it’s still much easier for actors in their 70s to get work than for actresses. Jacobi, also via satellite, said the public is clamoring for programming about older characters, without elaborating. He did say how good it is to be in his 70s and still be asked to perform (he also stars in the British  series Last Tango In Halifax, also airing on PBS, which earlier today made official its second-season pickup). Read More »

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TCA: PBS Chief Paula Kerger Announces ‘Vicious’ Premiere Date, Teases Ken Burns Country Music Docu, Talks ‘Downton Abbey’

By | Monday January 20, 2014 @ 12:19pm PST

TCADeadlinePBS has announced the premiere date of the Britcom Viciousstarring Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi as a gay couple who have been together nearly half a century. The six-part series, which PBS acquired from Shine International in October, will air on Sundays and premiere July 6 at 10:30 PM. Meanwhile, Jacobi’s drama Last Tango In Halifax has been ordered for a second season, returning June 29, PBS chief Paula Kerger2014 Winter TCA Tour - Day 12 announced this morning at TCA. Also unveiled: Ken Burns is working on a a documentary series about country music — though it won’t air until 2018, Kerger said this morning. Country Music will follow its evolution of over the course of the 20th century as it “eventually emerged to become America’s music,” PBS claimed in its announcement.

And, PBS will never, ever air Downton Abbey seasons closer to its UK run, Kerger indicated — hopefully putting a stake in that debate for press tours ever after. Kerger cited this month’s Season 4  debut audience –  10.2 million viewers, which was a 22% jump compared to the Season 3 opener (7.9 million), which 2014 Winter TCA Tour - Day 12itself had been a leap from the series Season 2 launch crowd of 4.2 mil. Downton is PBS’ highest rated drama ever. ”It’s become a bit of tradition after the holidays to come together to watch Downton,” Kerger said happily. “The audience build over the years…argues to keep the January time frame,” she said.  And, of course, a fall launch coinciding with the UK’s Downton season would put it in the teeth of the commercial broadcast network’s fall-season rollout, which, she noted, TV critics in the room had criticized PBS for doing in the past. Not to mention that the series’ UK broadcaster determines its debut date not terribly long before it actually happens — no weeks and weeks of promotions, as is the norm in the U.S. PBS cannot upstage the show in the UK. Read More »

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TCA: NBC Brass On Thursday Woes & Plans (Football?) And Future Of Bubble Series

By | Sunday January 19, 2014 @ 3:43pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

tca1__130610173119The success on other nights this fall has made NBC‘s ratings struggles on Thursday even more glaring. “Thursday night is a real challenge for us, something that we’re well aware of as we head into pilot season and start to think about the fall schedule next year,” NBC Chairman Bob Greenblatt said at TCA today. “Comedy has proven to be very difficult for us.” No kidding. This past Thursday, The Michael J. Fox Show hit a series low of 0.6 rating in 18-49, a number a show rarely logs and lives to MichaelJFoxShowsee another airing. ”We’re, obviously, not happy about a .6 for any show and especially for Michael J. Fox,” Greenblatt said. “We like that show. We like Sean Hayes’ show a lot. Creatively, we think they’re good shows, and we’re really unhappy that we can’t find an audience for them in those time periods. So we’re going to still work hard to see what we can do on Thursday nights. It is a real, real uphill battle.”

Related: TCA: NBC’s ‘Believe’ Is No ‘Touch’ – Or ‘Touched By Angel’ – Says JJ Abrams

Greenblatt’s initial assessment of Michael J. Fox Show‘s renewal chances was pretty grim: “Obviously, we have to see how it plays out for the next few months and then get in the scheduling room and make some hard decisions. It’s not anywhere near where we’d like it to be.” He got more optimistic as the session went on. “I’d love to figure out a way to bring it back,” he said. “We may move it around the schedule a little bit.” Read More »

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TCA: NBC’s ‘Believe’ Is No ‘Touch’ – Or ‘Touched By Angel’ – Says JJ Abrams

By | Sunday January 19, 2014 @ 2:12pm PST

LisaColumn__131015210634-275x198The high-ish rate of showrunner churn on NBC‘s high-profile mid-season drama Believe before it has even premiered, is “creativity”  and “a process,” executive producer J.J. Abrams said this afternoon.

The rap on the show is that it has had trouble trying to figure out what it should be. But Abrams, talking to TV critics at Winter TV Press Tour 2014, preferred to think of it as a process by which they found the right fit with the “incredible pilot” directed by Gravity‘s Alfonso Cuaron — and in no way a reflection on the two “great and talented”, and departed, showrunners with whom he said he hopes to work in the future.

Believe JJ AbramsIn December, executive producer/showrunner Dave Erickson departed and was succeeded by co-executive producer/director Jonas Pate, the second episode’s director - a rare case of a director taking the reins of a scripted series. Co-creator/exec producer/original showrunner Mark Friedman left the series in July. Friedman and Cuaron co-wrote the pilot for the high concept project, about the unlikely relationship between Bo, a girl with supernatural powers, and Tate, the man who is sprung from prison to protect her from the nogoodniks who are trying to hunt her down.

Of Pate’s new assignment, Abrams said he’s a big believer “whoever can do it… does it,” adding that they were lucky to find their new showrunner “in the family.”

Related: NBC’s Alfonso Cuaron/J.J. Abrams Series ‘Believe’ Makes Showrunner Change, Goes On Early Hiatus

Cuaron said he came up with the idea for Believe while directing Oscar-nominated Gravity,  during which “I had a window, waiting for the endless process of visual effects and I wanted to do something” but did not have time to direct another film.” “First of all I wanted to do something in which people were not floating and from then on everything just came together,” he joked. Read More »

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TCA: NBC’s ‘Growing Up Fisher’ Producers Not Worried About In-Olympics Promos

By | Sunday January 19, 2014 @ 11:56am PST

Growing Up Fisher key art“Cynicism be gone!” Jason Bateman told TV critics during NBC’s Q&A session for new comedy Growing Up Fisher about a kid who played a large role in helping his father cover up his blindness until dad gets a guide dog when his parents divorce.  (Watch trailer below) It’s based on the actual childhood of show creator/exec producer DJ Nash — including the pilot scene in which Dad, played by J.K. Simmons, cuts down a tree in the yard with a chainsaw while asking family members where the house is relative to the tree. Even so, TV critics at Winter TV Press Tour 2014 had trouble with the concept, and with the tone.

“Where’s the tears and the drama?” one critic asked of the pilot.  It’s a comedy.  Batemen, who exec produces and is The Voiceover Guy on the show, said they made a conscious decision to do Growing Up as a family show but with a new take and less treacle, so as to appeal to today’s maybe more cynical TV viewer.

NBC will preview Growing Up Fisher on February 23 at 10:30 PM, following the Sochi Games Closing Ceremonies. (Following the 2012 debacle when a preview of new NBC comedy Animal Practice aired before the end of the Olympics closing ceremony, Greenblatt today promised no interruption this time.) After that, it will be paired in the Tuesday 9 PM block with About A Boy, following The Voice, starting February 25.

One critic, who noted NBC’s Olympics coverage probably will include “300 promotional spots” for the show, wondered if the producers worried there would be backlash from viewers who felt the show was being “shoved down their throats.” Read More »

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NBC Commits To Seventh Season Of ‘Parks & Recreation’, Talks ‘Community’s Future

By | Sunday January 19, 2014 @ 10:01am PST
Nellie Andreeva

parks & RecreationNBC Chairman made the announcement when pressed by critics at TCA about the future of well reviewed by ratings-challenged Parks & Recreation. He initially said he was “bullish” on the show’s chances before going … Read More »

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Amy Poehler Gets Overall Deal, Pilot Order At NBC For Comedy Starring Natasha Lyonne

By | Sunday January 19, 2014 @ 9:41am PST
Nellie Andreeva

amypoehlerParks & Recreation star and Golden Globes co-host Amy Poehler has inked a three-year overall deal with NBC and Universal TV, the studio behind the praised comedy. The first project under the pact  is a … Read More »

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TCA: ‘Suits’ Influencing Young Viewers To Go To Law School, Not Show Ass Crack, Cast Members Say (Video)

By | Saturday January 18, 2014 @ 1:58pm PST

TCADeadline__140109155905UPDATED WITH TCA TRAILER: The cast and creator of USA Network’s Suits came to the TCA Winter TV Press Tour this morning and talked about the show’s impact on the nation. “It was a White House Christmas party a year ago,” reminisced cast member Gina Torres. “It was one of those things –  ‘Oh, my God. We are going to the White House!’ And it was like Comic-Con for lawyers… politicians2014 Winter TCA Tour - Day 10 start off as lawyers, or they start off as businessmen — they are running companies, or they have lots of lawyers in their lives, or whatever it is. And I walk into this thing, and whether it’s pages or whether it’s, you know, the congressman from this or that,  and, then, the First Lady’s chief of staff, says, ‘I love your show. We love your show’,” Torres said. Her thought at the time: “Is the First Lady, is Michelle watching the show?”

Suits returns on Thursday, March 6 at 9 PM after a triumphant third quarter in which it was a Top 5 program in the demo among all of TV’s primetime scripted series. Last October, USA gave the hit legal drama a 16-episode fourth-season renewal, and series creator and showrunner Aaron Korsh signed an overall deal with Suits producer Universal Cable Prods to continue on the show and develop new scripted series. Read More »

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