During a PBS Q&A session for its Nova program, Vaccines: Calling The Shots, the conversation eventually wound its way around to Jenny McCarthy. Which is to say a TV critic asked the panelists to weigh in on McCarthy, who has become the celebrity most closely associated with the vaccine debate. (McCarthy has said in interviews she is not “anti-vaccine” — she’s demanding “safe vaccines” and to “reduce the schedule and reduce the toxins.” In a 2009 interview with Time, she was quoted as saying, “If you ask a parent of an autistic child if they want the measles or the autism, we will stand in line for the f**king measles.”)
“I made a decision that we didn’t want to go down the path that wasn’t scientifically solid,” the program’s writer/director/co-exec producer Sonya Pemberton said by way of explaining why the show makes no mention of McCarthy. “As far as I can tell, Jenny McCarthy hasn’t published any scientific papers, and doesn’t have a degree” in the field. Read More »
Cable news networks would not allow for Teddy Roosevelt or Franklin Delano Roosevelt to become POTUS today, the creators of PBS’ new Roosevelt family documentary suggested at TCA today. Teddy was too eccentric, and FDR was stricken with polio.
“I’m not sure they could have been president now,” Geoffrey Ward, an authority on FDR and longtime Ken Burns collaborator, told TV critics at Summer Press Tour, where they’d come to plug The Roosevelts: An Intimate History. “TR was very eccentric, and FDR was physically helpless, and in the modern world in which everything is fair game. … I think TV cameras would compete with each other to see who could get the most ‘helpless’ footage of FDR.” Ward said he doubted the U.S. will ever see another physically challenged president.
FDR was maybe the most press-accessible president, holding nearly 1,000 news conferences during his White House tenure, Burns and Ward said. The press “understood” they were not to write about FDR’s polio or vie for the “worst-looking Roosevelt” shot and wrote “more substantive pieces” than they might have otherwise, the producers said.
Asked why, then, they had scoured various sources to find footage of Roosevelt struggling with his polio-stricken limbs – Burns mentions spending a great deal of money after the documentary was wrapped after discovering four seconds of footage of FDR struggling to get off a train in Bismarck, ND — Burns responded, “We’ve got an obligation to do that,” because it illustrates what an effort it was for FDR to get through a day and speaks to his character. Read More »
Taking questions from TV critics about his performance for PBS in Douglas Carter Beane’s Tony-nominated play The Nance, Nathan Lane got asked if he thinks gay characters should be played only by gay actors. In The Nance, Lane plays Chauncey Miles, a nance performer working during the period when New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia was trying to do away with burlesque.
“No,” he replied. “We just had The Normal Heart [with] Mark Ruffalo — fantastic job. … I certainly don’t think that. That way madness lies. Only gay actors can play gay parts and straight actors can play straight — then I wouldn’t have played Nathan Detroit — one of the great joys of my life – or Max Bialystock.”
Another critic at TCA today wondered what getting another Emmy nomination, for guest starring, on ABC’s Modern Family, “has meant for your career.” Lane laughed, then responded: “It’s a tribute to those writers. … They’ve been able to maintain the quality, which is not easy. I can only say it’s been a great pleasure. … I have just to go and play with them a couple times a year. And stuff like an Emmy nomination is always icing on the cake.
“I’m hoping I’m a sentimental choice, since I’ve been nominated six times and never won,” Lane continued, He noted that he’s in the running with Jimmy Fallon and Louie C.K. for guest hosting Saturday Night … Read More »
Downton Abbey’s fifth season will debut on January 4, PBS chief Paula Kerger said this morning. She boasted the fourth season was up 16% year over year — among the reasons PBS will not consider an airdate that more closely coincides with the British play-pattern — and that the Masterpiece franchise within which Downton Abbey airs is up 24%. “We’re extremely proud of this growth and continue to focus on Sunday night drama,” she told TV critics at TCA Summer TV Press Tour 2014.
As for Sherlock, Kerger said PBS did not yet have word as to when it would be ready for air. “Because it’s coming from our partners in the UK, we have to wait to know when it will be finished,” Kerger said. “But, whenever it comes we’ll put it in a wonderful place and we know the next season is going to be terrific,” she added.
Likewise, Kerger said she had no airdate for the return of Mr. Selfridge, starring Jeremy Piven. That franchise’s renewal for a third season was announced by its British producer in February, saying only that it would air in 2015. Read More »
PBS chief Paula Kerger this morning made a slew of announcements from TCA Summer Press Tour 2014:
– Call The Midwife will be back for a fourth season. BBC announced in February it would produce a fourth season of the period drama about a group of nurse midwives working in the East End of London in the 1950s — only it will be set in the 60′s for the next season.
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The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences unveiled nominations for the 35th annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards. They will be presentedSeptember 30 during a ceremony at Frederick P. Rose Hall at Lincoln Center. PBS led networks with 43 nominations followed by CBS with 42. The New York Times led newspapers with seven noms. Check out the full list here.
The game is on — again!, BBC One tweeted this afternoon. That was following clues it left Monday night alerting Sherlock fans that a surprise was in store for today. In the first missive, the channel — which had changed its handle to “Sherlock – #221back” for the occasion — posted a GIF of Andrew Scott as Moriarty from the last episode of Season 3, and the question, “Did you miss me?” An hour later, BBC One wrote, “It’s all gone dark… Something’s coming… Or someone. Details at 2.21pm tomorrow.” And now we’ve solved the mystery. The BBC has confirmed the sleuthing drama will return for a special, followed by a series of three new episodes. Shooting on the special will start in January 2015, with the series shooting later next year. “We’re ready to unleash the most shocking and surprising series of #Sherlock yet. The only thing is to expect is the unexpected…,” said BBC One today. A fourth season has unofficially been afoot for some time, but dates have never been specified — a lot of juggling is necessary given the big screen demands on stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Today’s confirmation follows reports on Sunday that the high-functioning sociopath and sidekick/best pal Dr John Watson would be back for a special in 2015. Freeman told The Telegraph a period of filming looked “pretty likely” in early 2015 and that he thought it “might be for next Christmas.” Either way, fans have had to wait long periods before to catch up with the characters, and their fervor has not abated. When Season 3 kicked off on BBC One and PBS in January this year after a two year hiatus, it was the series’ most-watched episode ever, on both sides of the Atlantic. Read More »
The 41st Annual Daytime Entertainment Creative Arts Emmy Awards were held Friday night at the Westin Bonaventure in downtown Los Angeles drawing 1,200 attendees for The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences gala. Among networks, PBS chalked up the most wins at 12, followed by Nickelodeon (10), syndicated shows (10), CBS (8), HUB Network (6), TOLN.com (5), ABC (3), Cooking Channel (3), Cartoon Network (2), MeTV (2), YouTube (2), Disney Channel (1), HGTV (1), MTV (1), mipromise.com (1) and OWN (1). Among TV shows, the wins were as follows: Sesame Street (6), The Ellen DeGeneres Show (5), The Bold and the Beautiful (4), Peg+Cat (3), All My Children (3), Giada in Paradise (3), Peter Rabbit (3), The Young and the Restless (3), Bubble Guppies (2), General Hospital (2), Green Screen Adventures (2), Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness (2), Ocean Mysteries with Jeff Corwin (2), One Life to Live (2), The Scarecrow (2), Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2) and Transformers: Prime Beast Hunters (2).
All winners are listed below by category: Read More »
A half-hour edition of the iconic children’s show will begin airing in the afternoon September 1 on PBS stations, with selected episodes also set to be available for the first time at PBSKids.org and the PBS Kids app. That’s a nod to the increase in mobile viewing, with streaming video on the app up 34% year-over-year; PBS Kids averages more than 12 million unique visitors per month online, and the app draws more than 1.5 million users each month. “These days, families expect to be able to connect with their favorite Sesame Street friends at any time of day,” said Terry Fitzpatrick, Chief Content and Distribution Officer at Sesame Workshop. “The new afternoon show is a great complement to our continuing efforts to reach more kids with engaging lessons that will help them grow smarter, stronger and kinder.”
Jay Leno has just booked his next stop on the Career Achievement Award Express. The former Tonight Show host will receive the 17th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in a gala October 19 at Kennedy Center in Washington DC. Carol Burnett was last year’s honoree of the award, which the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts bestows annually in a ceremony taped for broadcast on PBS. The pubcaster will air the Leno gala November 23. Leno exited NBC’s The Tonight Show in February after a 22-year run. He was inducted into the TV Academy’s Hall of Fame in March, and in April he had a street named for him on the Universal Studios lot. “Like Mark Twain, Jay Leno has offered us a lifetime’s worth of humorous commentary on American daily life,” Kennedy Center chairman David Rubenstein in the press release this morning. “For both men, no one was too high or too low to escape their wit, and we are all the better for it.”
Diane Haithman contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
Reality Check is a Deadline feature series covering the players, programs and trends in reality television.
Instead of Emmy love, PBS stalwart Antiques Roadshow has met with 11 long years of Emmy “like”.
During the last 12 of its 18 years on the air, Antiques Roadshow has been nominated 11 times in the Outstanding Reality Program Category (including “reality” TV’s former Emmy categories, Non-Fiction Program/Series). The exception was 2004: the year the Outstanding Reality Program category was introduced, Roadshow was a no-show on the nominees list. (Another sedate PBS series, Colonial House, made the list then, and the win went to Queer Eye). Read More »
The Television Academy, by splitting miniseries and movies for the 2014 contest, has made it easier this year for the made-for-TV movie to compete. Outside of the occasional HBO film, the genre is usually at a disadvantage at the Emmys. Forced to face off directly with the more lavish miniseries form, these two-hour one-offs have had a difficult time holding their own. (Acting, directing and writing categories are still combined for minis/movies). Occasionally a movie comes along that is so irresistible to TV Academy voters that it can’t be ignored. That was the case last year with HBO’s Behind the Candelabra, which swept both Primetime and Creative Arts Emmy ceremonies. In 2011, another HBO telefilm, Game Change, had similar success against the longform monsters, but it has not always been easy to beat the odds.
With those two wins, TV movies are enjoying a bit of a renaissance—at least at HBO, which once again has the 800-pound gorilla in the race with Ryan Murphy’s adaptation of Larry Kramer’s play, The Normal Heart. The time finally seems right for this drama set in the early days of the AIDS crisis. Written 30 years ago and long in development as a feature film and then TV movie, this provocative and moving study about the human and political consequences of the HIV/AIDS outbreak finally found its way in front of the cameras, thanks in large part to Murphy, who promised the 78-year-old Kramer this movie would happen. In the same year that another decades-in-development-hell drama about the early struggle against AIDS, Dallas Buyers Club, won three Academy Awards—including best and supporting actor statuettes—it seems like kismet-style timing for a Normal Heart Emmy run. The fact that the TV movie still remains relevant and timely enhances the chances of a big win, and its backstory of a long and troubled road to the screen will only help it with voters. Kramer’s well-documented journey with the material should make him a frontrunner in the writing category, and Murphy has a good shot in directing. A superb cast also should score major nominations, including Mark Ruffalo for miniseries/movie lead actor, Julia Roberts (as a polio-stricken doctor) in supporting actress, and a plethora of supporting actors, including Jim Parsons, Joe Mantello (both appeared in the 2011 Broadway revival of the play), Taylor Kitsch, Alfred Molina and Matt Bomer, who in particular really socks home the role of The New York Times writer who becomes an early victim of the virus. Read More »
The heralded, award-winning 28-year-old franchise will begin to chronicle not only American masters but also “emerging American masters,” Michael Kantor said in a New York Times interview — industry speak for “targeting younger viewers.” The franchise will stop emphasizing important cultural figures important to the baby boom generation, Kantor told NYT, which got first crack at the news. The series will redefine the word “masters” to include profiles of people in industry. Ditto science. That said, the series already has profiled Albert Einstein, as well as I.M. Pei, Billie Jean King, Walter Cronkite, etc. — in addition to more traditional subjects such as Arthur Miller, Georgia O’Keeffe, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Leonard Bernstein, Sidney Poitier, Judy Garland, John James Audubon, Bob Dylan, Ella Fitzgerald, Woody Guthrie, Jimi Hendrix, etc.
Susan Lacy, who created American Masters in 1986, left to join HBO in September.
Related: ‘American Masters’ Creator Susan Lacy Departs PBS For HBO
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After all the twists and turns on the Shane Salerno-directed docu Salinger that began with a January 2010 Deadline reveal that the film had been shot, how did the documentary do? The American Masters version totaled 2 million viewers, including repeat broadcasts and DVR viewers. This was strong considering the film had been released by The Weinstein Company and was in the top 10 of the year’s theatrical docus, and that it was viewable on Netflix at that time. The Simon & Schuster companion book written by David Shields and Salerno hit both the New York Times and LA Times bestseller lists. And Salerno more than made back the $2 million he invested to make the film, after he made three 7-figure deals with TWC, S&S and American Masters. It didn’t hurt the Salinger estate either, as Catcher In The Rye hit the bestseller charts again, 62 years after its publication in 1951.
“When combined with the incredible sales figures and national social media conversation, it demonstrates the true impact of public television,” said Stephen Segaller, the WNET programming veep in charge of Salinger. “The fact it was the 200th episode of American Masters makes the accomplishment even sweeter.” Read More »
In a move that was expected, ITV officially announced today that it has ordered 10 new episodes of period drama Mr Selfridge. The Jeremy Piven-starring series is currently in its 2nd season and the next promises to see his character’s life begin to “unravel.” The department store drama is based on the life of flamboyant American entrepreneur Harry Gordon Selfridge (Piven) who founded the London shopping mecca Selfridges in 1909. Season 2, which is airing now in the UK with an average 6.4M viewers and a 21.6 share, was the No. 1 show in its time slot last Sunday with 4.8M at 9 PM. The current run picks up in 1914 as the store celebrates its 5th anniversary and with talk of war ahead in Europe. Season 3 is due to pick up in 1919. PBS starts airing S2 on March 30 in the States; no air dates have been set for the next go-round.
Piven is currently shooting the Entourage movie and filming on S3 of Mr Selfridge will bring him back to London for an April start. Kate Lewis, executive producer for ITV Studios, says there are “surprises” to come. “You only have to walk down Oxford Street today to know that Selfridges Department Store continued to be successful, but for its founder, Harry Selfridge, things were very different. His … Read More »
PBS has named Ira Rubenstein new general manager of PBS Digital. He will report to PBS chief operating officer Michael Jones and serve as a member of PBS’ senior leadership team, starting March 24. Rubenstein will lead all digital content and service efforts for PBS and its member stations, and will focus on PBS’ digital efforts in both the children’s and general audience space. He joins from mobile media company MeeMee Media where he was CEO. Prior to that, Rubenstein served as EVP Digital Marketing for 20th Century Fox where he established the Digital Marketing organization and led the team behind social and mobile campaigns for Prometheus, Chronicle, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, X-Men: First Class, and others. Before joining Fox in 2011, he had stints at Marvel and Sony.
An average of 8.5 million viewers tuned in for Downton Abbey‘s fourth season finale last night. That’s a personal finale best for the period drama on PBS. The Season 3 finale drew 8.2 million viewers on February 17 last year, a 50% surge from the Season 2 ender in 2012.
This season opened on January 5 with 10.2 million tuned in – up 22% compared to the Season 3 debut of 7.9 million which, in turn had been a leap from the series Season 2 launch crowd of 4.2 mil. Even before this latest cycle started, Downton Abbey has been the highest-rated drama in PBS history. Read More »
While an estimated 111.5 million viewers watched the Seattle Seahawks pulverize the Denver Broncos on Fox on Sunday (up from last year’s 109 million Super Bowl viewers) , 6.8 million viewers opted instead to watch some actual drama over on PBS’s Downton Abbey – celebrating its third consecutive year as The Show That Did Best Against The Super Bowl.
According to Nielsen early stats, Downton’s 6.8 million viewers is a 3% climb compared to last year’s 6.6 million opposite the Super Bowl. This is no surprise, given the washout-ed-ness of yesterday’s football game, and the been-there-done-that-ed-ness of the Super Bowl ads — versus the high drama of the Downton episode — SPOILER ALERT — in which a big surprise birthday party was thrown for Robert, Edith found out she’s pregnant, Lady Mary caught Rose kissing Jack Ross, and the downstairs staff said good-bye to Alfred!
To put Downton’s 6.8 million viewers in some perspective, this season — Downton’s fourth — ,opened on January 5 with 10.2 million tuned in – up 22% compared to the Season 3 debut of 7.9 million.
PBS and MASTERPIECE kicked off the #DramaBowlPBS rivalry with the Big Game on Wednesday, January 29, with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and posts on other social media platforms asking fans “which team are you on?” The campaign posts and images saw tens of thousands of user interactions, generating 31.5 million potential impressions on Twitter and nearly 1.2 million post views, … Read More »