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David Letterman, Kathie Lee Gifford Among Guests During Regis’ Final Week On ‘Live!’

Nellie Andreeva

With Regis Philbin set to depart Live! With Regis and Kelly on November 18, the show has booked “some of Philbin’s favorite guests and friends” for his final week. They include Philbin’s former co-host Kathie Lee Gifford (November 17), fellow talk-show hosts David Letterman (November 16) and Jimmy Fallon (November 14) as well as Donald Trump (November 15) and Don Rickles (November 14). In addition, each day there will be a special musical tribute featuring singers such as Tony Bennett, Bret Michaels and Josh Groban. Philbin’s last show is being billed as an hourlong tribute commemorating his nearly three decades on Live!.

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GOP Candidates Seeking Hollywood Help

UPDATE: TV and radio political pundit Dennis Miller on Monday announced that he’s endorsing Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain and will headline a political fundraiser in Los Angeles. Miller also is making donations to the campaign and offering to write for Cain, the recent winner of the GOP straw poll in Florida and now the leader of the entire GOP field in a new Zogby poll of Republican primary voters. Meanwhile, the AP is reporting that Donald Trump has become a “must-stop for GOP candidates hoping to bask in the celebrity real estate mogul’s star power”. All the major Republican presidential hopefuls have sought an audience with the host of Celebrity Apprentice, looking for an endorsement or advice. Mitt Romney is scheduled to meet met with Trump on Monday in New York. Cain’s date with the Donald is said to be upcoming.

Rick Perry already dined with Trump earlier this month at fancy NYC eatery Jean Georges. Michele Bachmann visited Trump’s penthouse atop the Trump Tower in July. Sarah Palin (who’s not yet declared) shared pizza with Trump in Times Square last spring. Trump toyed with throwing his own hat into the ring but would have had to exit Celebrity Apprentice, so he declined. On the other hand, another Hollywood endorsement might not be as welcome to one Republican candidate: that of liberal filmmaker Michael Moore. Moore just told CNN’s Piers Morgan that, of the entire GOP field, “There’s only one who has sanity operating inside of … Read More »

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NBC Calls Donald Trump ‘Apprentice’ Pay Report “Grossly Inaccurate”

By | Wednesday June 22, 2011 @ 3:54pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

NBC today took the rare step of responding to a tabloid story — a report in the New York Post that Celebrity Apprentice executive producers Mark Burnett and Donald Trump have a two-year deal with the network that will pay them $160 million, with star Trump pocketing some $65 million a year. “The financial information reported today in regards to The Celebrity Apprentice is grossly inaccurate and has been significantly overstated,” NBC said in a statement. “While it is our policy to keep financial information strictly confidential, neither the production costs of the show nor what Mr. Trump makes personally is in the realm of reality. Donald Trump and The Apprentice franchise remain a key part of the NBC primetime lineup and we are looking forward to another compelling cycle next season.” In May, NBC renewed Celebrity Apprentice for another season to launch in midseason. According to sources, there is no deal for another year after that. And the license fee the network will pay for the next cycle is about half of the $80 million a season listed. While still a potent performer, Celebrity Apprentice is no longer in the top tier of reality juggernauts like Dancing With the Stars, American Idol, The Bachelor, Survivor, and now The Voice.

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Donald Trump Announces He Won’t Run For President And Will Return To ‘Apprentice’

By | Monday May 16, 2011 @ 9:50am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

NBC made a big headline at its upfront presentation today regarding Donald Trump. Trump took the stage to deliver the news: “After getting so many calls from (top NBC executives), I’ve decided that we are going to continue onward with Celebrity Apprentice. I will not be running for president, as much as I’d like to, and I want to thank everybody very much,”  he said. “This will be our 12th season, and I have to say, I love Celebrity Apprentice.” Over the past few months, Trump had been publicly flirting with the idea of running for president. At some point, he mulled announcing his final decision on the season finale of Celebrity Apprentice but then scrapped that idea. Just yesterday, NBC entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt said on a conference call that NBC was working on plans to replace Trump on The Apprentice should he decide to run. After Trump’s statement, which drew big applause from the audience of ad buyers, Greenblatt quipped, “Every network wants to make news at its upfront. Try topping that!” UPDATE: At NBC’s lunch after the presentation, I heard that Trump informed NBC brass on Friday that he wanted to come to the upfront. Greenblatt told me that the network executives had a hunch that he might announce that he would stay on The Apprentice but didn’t know for sure until this morning.

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UPDATE: Trump Won’t Run; Decision Follows NBC’s Contingency Plan To Recast Donald On ‘Apprentice’

By | Sunday May 15, 2011 @ 11:50am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

UPDATE MONDAY AM: NBC made a big headline at its upfront presentation today regarding Donald Trump who took the stage to deliver the news: “After getting so many calls from NBC executives, I’ve decided that I will continue onward with The Apprentice. I will not be running for president, as much as I wanted to,” he said. “This will be our 12th season. I love Celebrity Apprentice.” Just yesterday, NBC entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt said on a conference call that NBC was working on plans to replace Trump on The Apprentice should he decide to run. After Trump’s statement, which drew big applause from the audience of ad buyers, Greenblatt quipped, “Every network wants to make news at its upfront. Try topping that!” Over the past few months, Trump had been publicly flirting with the idea of running for President. At some point, he mulled announcing his final decision on the season finale of Celebrity Apprentice but then scrapped that idea.

SUNDAY: NBC had both Sunday Night Football and Celebrity Apprentice on its just-revealed schedule for next season despite the NFL football season being in limbo because of the current players lockout and Celebrity Apprentice star Donald Trump mulling a presidential bid. During a conference call today, NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt expressed hope that both football and The Donald will be back but also said that the network is working on contingency plans if that doesn’t happen.

“Certainly we’re hoping that he will be back with us,” Greenblatt said of Trump. But if he isn’t, “we will bring the show back and have someone else at the head of the boardroom table. … (Celebrity Apprentice) is too strong a franchise for us not to consider that.” Greenblatt wouldn’t discuss whom they have in mind as a replacement for Trump, only saying that it would be someone who is “confident and galvanizing.”

As for Sunday Night Football, “we feel pretty good about where we are with the NFL and “pretty optimistic that football will be there,” Greenblatt said. “Worst-case scenario, (the season) will be delayed by a few weeks.” NBC is already working on “high-quality, live entertainment reality-type shows that would fill the gap,” Greenblatt said. He wouldn’t elaborate, only noting that they are “attention-getting big ideas” and that NBC will air the specials elsewhere on the schedule if there is no delay to the football season.

Other tidbits from the NBC call: Read More »

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Comcast Will Spend $300M More This Year On NBC Primetime & Cable While Admitting Universal “Has To Make Better Films”

This morning, the top Comcast execs in an earnings conference call admitted to Wall Street that NBCUniversal, which the company just purchased, is a fixer-upper and, in the short term, a money pit. NBCU chief Steve Burke says the company plans to spend $200 million more this year on NBC’s primetime schedule than General Electric did last year when it owned the network. (Burke is looking at 21 pilots, about the same number NBC ordered in 2010.) Comcast considers the turnaround to be a long-term project, but Burke says that simply lifting NBC to third place from fourth would mean “hundreds of millions” in improvement in the company’s cash flow. Meanwhile, Burke also says he plans to spend $100 million more this year on programming NBCU’s cable networks. He expects a “very strong” upfront ad sales season.

As for Universal’s film business, where 1Q revenues and operating cash flow declined, Burke says that “we have to make better films,” although the size of its current slate is “about right.” He attributed some of the woes to the fact that the company had to include a lot of marketing costs for Hop and Fast Five in the latest quarterly report even though most of the revenues from those recently released films will show up on Comcast’s next earnings statement.

Both Burke and Roberts mentioned the “S” word — synergy — which hasn’t been used by Big Media since the days of AOL Time Warner. And we all know how that turned out. Read More »

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Donald Trump Snubs Letterman, Congratulates Obama

By | Monday May 2, 2011 @ 3:57pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

They both took shots at The Donald over the past few days, but David Letterman and President Barack Obama were on the opposite sides of Donald Trump’s graces today.

Trump slammed Letterman for the comedian’s suggestion on his show last week that Trump’s treatment of Obama was racist and canceled his scheduled May 18 appearance on the Late Show as a guest and another one as a Top 10 presenter, according to the New York Post. “I was disappointed to hear the statements you made about me last night on your show that I was a ‘racist,’ ” Trump wrote in a letter to Letterman sent Friday. “In actuality, nothing could be further from the truth and there is nobody who is less of a racist than Donald Trump.”

Meanwhile, Trump today praised Obama for overseeing the operation that killed Osama bin Laden, two days after Obama skewered the presidential hopeful at the White House Correspondents dinner and a day after the news of bin Laden’s killing pre-empted the conclusion of Trump’s NBC reality series Celebrity Apprentice on the East Coast. Here is the statement, which is very presidential candidate-like: “I want to personally congratulate President Obama and the men and women of the Armed Forces for a job well done,” it reads. “I am so proud to see Americans standing shoulder to shoulder, waving the American flag in celebration of this great victory. We should spend the next several days not debating … Read More »

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Obama & Seth Meyers Trump Hollywood At Annual White House Correspondents Dinner

By | Saturday April 30, 2011 @ 9:32pm PDT

UPDATE: Tonight Saturday Night Live head writer and Weekend Update anchor Seth Meyers entertained at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner – that annual media-politics-showbiz schmoozefest in Washington DC. I’ve been to the White House Correspondents Dinner, and, if history is any judge, then comedians asked to perform there seem to do best when they joke with gentle jibes rather than go for the jugular. Meyers met that criteria and more: he kept his targets bipartisan during the prestigious gig. This was Meyers’ first time hosting and he had to compete with President Obama who utilizes some very good joke writers. (Clients of WME? Because of the Rahm/Ari Emanuel connection?) Meyers started out flat because most of his news-based jokes seemed too cerebral for the crowd whose intellects were obviously overestimated. But then Seth began to score, and score, and score, by tweaking his bosses at Comcast/NBCUniversal and skewering Hollywood and thumping Donald Trump.

So did President Obama, who landed some very pointed shots at both The Donald and Matt Damon after taking it on the chin from them in recent weeks. Obama noted that ”Matt Damon said the other day that he was disappointed in my performance. Well, Matt, I just saw The Adjustment Bureau…” Obama then proceeded to make fun of The Donald and his birth certificate rants ”focusing on the issues that matter: Like did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac? All kidding aside, we all obviously know about your credentials and experience.” Obama noted how, in the recent Celebrity Apprentice episode’s cooking contest, Trump decided the men’s team suffered a “lack of leadership. So you fired Gary Busey. And these are the kinds of decisions that would keep me up at night. Well handled, sir. Well handled.” The Donald who was sitting in the audience at The Washington Post table managed a weak smile. So much for the accuracy of Trump’s pre-dinner prediction that Obama wouldn’t dare take him on tonight.

6:30 PM: Among the Hollywood celebs spotted were Gleek’s Chris Colfer, Jane Lynch, and Matthew Morrison, Sean Penn, Mira Sorvino, Paula Abdul, Elizabeth Banks, Amy Poehler, Jeremy Piven, Anna Paquin, Ce Lo Green, David and Patricia Arquette, Mila Kunis, Scarlett Johansson, Jon Hamm, Andy Samberg, Alyssa Milano, Joan Rivers, Morgan Fairchild, Brooke Burke, Rosario Dawson, America Ferrerra, Chace Crawford, and Steve Buscemi. The program began Read More »

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WHAAAT? Donald Trump #2 GOP Choice

By | Wednesday April 6, 2011 @ 11:10pm PDT

According to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News Poll, Mitt Romney appears the early front-runner for the Republican nomination for U.S. president in the 2012 race, but Celebrity Apprentice‘s Donald Trump is running second. Yikes, this yutz? So now I’m asking: Who from Hollywood would you put in The Donald administration?

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Seth MacFarlane To Serve As Roast Master Of Comedy Central’s Roast Of Donald Trump

Nellie Andreeva

Seth MacFarlane is turning roast hosting into a regular thing. Comedy Central announced the Family Guy creator will serve as roast master on its Roast of Donald Trump, which tapes March 9. MacFarlane becomes the first roast master to emcee back-to-back events for the cable channel. Last year, he hosted Comedy Central’s roast of David Hasselhoff.

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Comedy Central To Roast Donald Trump

By | Thursday December 16, 2010 @ 11:45am PST
Nellie Andreeva

Cue the hair jokes: Comedy Central just announced it has locked in Donald Trump as its next roastee.  Comedy Central Roast of Donald Trump will tape on March 9 in New York City for a Spring 2011 premiere. “I’ll show up to the Roast because Comedy Central is paying me a lot of money, but I’m confused as to how anybody could make fun of me,” Trump said. Added Elizabeth Porter, Comedy Central’s SVP, specials and talent. “We are so glad he agreed to be Roasted.  I’m hoping he buys me a plane.”

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Donald Trump Signs First-Look Deal With NBC Universal

By | Wednesday October 27, 2010 @ 3:35pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Donald Trump has been a fixture on NBC for most of the past decade as the star-executive producer of the long-running reality series The Apprentice and partner with NBC on the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants. Now Trump has formalized and expanded his relationship with the network by signing a rich multi-year first-look deal with NBC Universal for his company Trump Prods. Under the all-encompassing pact, Trump and Andy Litinsky, president of Trump Prods., will create, develop, and executive produce scripted, unscripted, animated, and syndicated TV projects for NBC Universal’s broadcast, cable and syndication divisions. Trump Prods. is currently in production on the 4th cycle of Celebrity Apprentice which will premiere in January, with a regular Apprentice series now airing on NBC. On the development side, Trump Prods. and 44 Blue Prods. are producing Keep It In the Family, a business-themed reality pilot for the CW based on a BBC Two format which is now casting, and has partnered with Canada’s DHX Media for The Trump Universe, a futuristic animated project in the vein of The Jetsons. Additionally, the company has received second season renewals for dating series Donald J. Trump Presents: The Ultimate Merger on TV One and sports series Trump’s Fabulous World of Golf on the Golf Channel. It has also negotiated a renewal with NBC for both Miss USA and Miss Universe through 2013. Trump Prods.’ series credits also … Read More »

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