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Ratings Rat Race: ‘Charlie’s Angels’ Dives, ‘Suspect’ Steady, ‘Office’, ‘Grey’s’ Hit Low

Nellie Andreeva

Fox got some really bad news last night when the Yankees get eliminated from the playoffs, leaving the network’s post-season baseball coverage without its 2 biggest draws – the Yankees and the Red Sox, which bowed out a week ago. Softening the blow was the fact that the network won its third Thursday in a row among adults 18-49 with The X Factor (3.8/10), which still refuses to grow but has been extremely persistent in its ratings performance. The reality series matched its fast national rating from last week, just as it did on Wednesday. (X Factor always gets adjusted up in the ratings.) Keeping steady was actually a major accomplishment last night as the big Yankees-Tigers game on TBS pushed most broadcast series down.

There were only 2 other series not to drop week-to-week last night and one of them was a show that needed good news — NBC’s Prime Suspect (1.5/4), which matched its performance last week even as its lead-in, Whitney (2.3/6) was down 8%. Prime Suspect is the only new NBC series whose fate is undecided but the network’s brass are rallying behind it, and its hold last night is encouraging thought it needs to eventually grow to earn a pickup. That could happen next week when the network will start airing reruns of the show in the Monday 10 PM slot vacated by cancelled Playboy Club to give the crime drama starring Maria Bello additional sampling. Prime Suspect was not the lowest-rated NBC series on Thursday this time – it was tied with Community (1.5/5), which was down 17%. Parks & Recreation (1.9/5) was down 10%, while The Office (3.1/8) was down 11% to log its lowest-rated episode in 6-and-a-half years, since the finale of its poorly rated 6-episode first season in the spring of 2005. While baseball was a factor, it is still disconcerting for the veteran comedy to drop so much as it raises concerns about the show’s viability without star Steve Carell. Read More »

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NBC Cancels ‘Playboy Club’, Gives Full-Season Orders To ‘Up All Night’ & ‘Whitney’

Nellie Andreeva

Second Time No Charm For ‘Playboy Club’ ‘Charlie’s Angels’ & ‘Prime Suspect’: What Went Wrong?
UPDATED: NBC is giving new comedy series Up All Night and Whitney a major vote of confidence with early full-season pickups. Meanwhile, as we indicated in the ratings story earlier this morning, low-rated new drama The Playboy Club has become the first new series to be canceled this fall. The 1960s drama is being pulled from the schedule effective immediately and will be replaced by Brian Williams’ new primetime newsmagazine, Rock Center With Brian Williams, which will premiere October 31. For the next three weeks, NBC will air repeats of its other struggling new drama, the well-received Prime Suspect, in the Monday 10 PM hour for additional sampling, while keeping originals on Thursday. “We made comedy an important goal for us this season and I’m very pleased to be making full-season commitments to both Whitney and Up All Night,” NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt said. “We’re thrilled with the creative direction of both shows as well as the potential for them to continue to build loyal audiences over the coming months.”

While not breakout hits of the size of Fox’s New Girl or CBS’ 2 Broke Girls, Up All Night and Whitney have been solid in their first couple of weeks, especially compared to the performance of NBC’s new drama series. The pickup of Whitney, which will be joined shortly by a full-season order for 2 Broke Girls at CBS, will give Whitney Cummings, who created and stars in Whitney and co-created 2 Broke Girls, two successful new shows this fall.  As for Playboy, the series was expected to get the ax last week after its low-rated premiere was followed by a Week 2 decline, but Greenblatt gave the period drama another shot. Unfortunately, the series dropped again last night to a 1.2 demo rating despite its lead-in actually improving a bit. Read More »

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RATINGS RAT RACE: ‘Terra Nova’ Holds In Week 2, ‘House’ OK In Return, CBS Rocks

Nellie Andreeva

After its lackluster debut last Monday, there has been a series of encouraging news for Fox’s Terra Nova in the past 24 hours. First, the prehistoric drama yesterday rose to the top spot in 18-49 among all new drama series premieres in Live+3 ratings. Then the data from the international markets came in, showing a strong launch for Terra Nova in almost every territory. In Canada, the two-hour opener drew 1.4 million viewers on CityTV to become the most-watched drama in the network’s history. And then the first ratings for last night were released this morning with more good news for the rookie drama: In its second outing on Fox, Terra Nova (3.0/8) matched the fast national for its two-hour premiere despite airing from 8-9 PM vs. 8-10 PM last week. (Last week, the premiere was adjusted up in the finals, which will probably happen again today, so the 100% hold will likely carry on in the final ratings.) UPDATE 9:25 AM: Fox just released final numbers for Terra Nova, and it indeed rose to a 3.1 rating. This is the best Week 1-to-Week 2 retention for a new series this fall. At 9 PM, veteran House (3.9/9) was down a modest 7% from last fall when it aired in the more challenging 8 PM hour. Read More »

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Second Time No Charm For ‘Playboy Club’ ‘Charlie’s Angels’ & ‘Prime Suspect’: What Went Wrong?

By | Sunday October 2, 2011 @ 1:50pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

NBC’s The Playboy Club and Prime Suspect and ABC’s Charlie’s Angels had two things in common going into this fall. Highly recognizable titles, for once, as they all were based on famous brands. And they all got on the air after 2 consecutive rounds of development. Now they share something else: they all launched to disappointingly low ratings and are staring down the cancellation barrel. How did that happen?

Just a month ago, things were looking up for the 3 series. Besides pre-sold titles, all were backed by extensive promotional campaigns and all had a strong marketing hook. For Playboy Club, it was the Playboy empire which threw its support by hosting  pre-launch parties at the Playboy mansion and doing a special cover of Playboy magazine promoting the show’s launch. For Charlie’s Angels, it was Drew Barrymore’s involvement as an executive producer. (She even appeared as a presenter at the Emmys alongside the series’ stars.) Prime Suspect had a well-known film actress, Maria Bello, as the lead. Additionally, in their road to the screen, all 3 drams seemed to follow the successful formula of CBS’s Hawaii Five-0. CBS originally put the reboot of the classic procedural in development during the 2008-09 development season with Ed Bernero as the writer. The project didn’t go to pilot, and the following season, CBS tried again with new writers: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Peter Lenkov. The script sailed through the pilot stage and the show landed on CBS’ 2010 fall schedule. Read More »

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NBC’s Bob Greenblatt Not Rushing To Cancel Low-Rated ‘Playboy Club’ Or ‘Free Agents’

By | Thursday September 29, 2011 @ 11:08pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

There have been rampant rumors this week that NBC is cancelling underperforming new series The Playboy Club and Free Agents. It’s because the shows have logged 2 and 3 low-rated airings, respectively, dropping double-digits week-to-week. Also in danger is the network’s Prime Suspect, which opened with a disappointing 1.9 18-49 rating last week, and sophomore Harry’s Law, stuck at a 1.2 in 2 airings. But I’m told NBC won’t be pulling any new series this week since NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt wants to give all freshmen more time to send a message to the creative community that he will give their shows on NBC every possible chance to succeed. (And those are not even shows he had developed.). That is a departure from traditional network MO in the case of fall shows with such underwhelming launches. Last year, Fox’s Lone Star and ABC’s My Generation were cancelled after 2 airings each. They drew a 1.0 and 1.1 demo rating, respectively, just before they were pulled. This week, Free Agents and The Playboy Club posted a 1.0 and a 1.3. But Greenblatt comes from the cable world, where series are given a season-long run to find their footing before a decision on their futures is made. In the realities of the broadcast business, keeping a high-end drama or comedy on the air at a 1 demo … Read More »

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Ratings Rat Race: ’2.5 Men’ Still Big, ‘Terra Nova’ Premiere Just OK, ‘Playboy’ Dives

Nellie Andreeva

PREMIERE WEEK: Comedies In Comeback, Dramas Mixed While NBC & CW Struggle
CBS’ comedies stayed red-hot in Week 2 of the season. Two and a Half Men (7.2/17 in adults 18-49, 20 million viewers) was down 30% from its gigantic season premiere for a demo number that is still way higher than any scripted series can score in Live+Same Day these days. It boosted the second-season premiere of Mike & Molly (4.9/11, 14 million) to series highs in 18-49 and total viewers, up 26% from its series premiere last fall. At 8 PM, How I Met Your Mother (4.4/12, 10.6 million) continues to excel in its seventh season, down only 6% from its biggest season premiere ever last week. 2 Broke Girls (4.5/11, 11.6 million) settled nicely in its new 8:30 PM slot. It was down 37% from its big debut behind Men last week but did something that CBS hammock shows have rarely done — build on its HIMYM lead-in. At 10 PM, Hawaii Five-0 (3.3/8) was down only a tenth from its season premiere last week. CBS (4.6/11, 13 million) won every half-hour in primetime in both 18-49 and total viewers.

The two-hour premiere of Fox’s dinosaur drama Terra Nova drew a 3.0/7 and 9 million viewers, which was OK but slightly below expectations. In its defense, the male-skewing drama had to face the Washington-Dallas Monday Night Football game on ESPN. And it stayed consistent throughout the night, logging a 3.0 rating at 8 PM, 8:30 PM and 9 PM and climbing to a 3.1 at 9:30 PM. Speaking of the MNF game, it drew a 11.9 metered market household average. UPDATE: In the finals, Terra Nova was adjusted up to a 3.1 rating in 18-49.

NBC’s Monday lineup already started very low last week. It dropped even further last night. The Sing-Off (1.7/4) was down a relatively modest 11%, but The Playboy Club (1.3/3) plunged 19% to reach Lone Star ratings levels and join fellow new NBC series Free Agents on the cancellation block. Read More »

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PREMIERE WEEK: Comedies In Comeback, Dramas Mixed While NBC & CW Struggle

Nellie Andreeva

As network executives break out the “I Survived Premiere Week” T-shirts, they are probably relieved as most nets have something to brag about. Overall, the comedy genre’s comeback was in full force: Half-hour series had a big showing, claiming the top six highest-rated non-sports programs of premiere week among adults 18-49, including rookies 2 Broke Girls (7.1/16 in Live+Same Day) and New Girl (4.8/12) and returning Two and a Half Men (10.7/25), Modern Family (average of 6.1/16 for two episodes), How I Met Your Mother (5.0/13) and The Big Bang Theory (5.0/15). (Additionally, Modern Family, HIMYM and The Middle were all up double-digits from last fall’s premieres, while Big Bang was essentially flat). For comparison, the highest-rated drama series last week was veteran NCIS (4.3/12) and the highest-rated reality series was the X Factor premiere (4.4/12).

Comedies also stood out among the crop of new series, with two potential breakout hits, Fox’s New Girl and CBS’ 2 Broke Girls; two promising new entries, NBC’s Whitney (3.3/8) and Up All Night (2.4/7); and only one dud, NBC’s Free Agents (1.3/4). In contrast, there were no drama breakouts this past week, with four solid openers — ABC’s Revenge (3.3/9) and Pan Am (3.1/8) and CBS’ Person of Interest (3.1/8) and Unforgettable (2.9/8) — and three disappointments in NBC’s The Playboy Club (1.6/4) and Prime Suspect (1.8/5) and ABC’s Charlie’s Angels (2.1/6). Read More »

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‘Two And A Half Men’ Premiere Is Huge, ‘Playboy Club’ Debut Dangerously Low

Nellie Andreeva

‘Two And A Half Men’ Premiere: What Did You Think?, ’2.5 Men’ Premiere Is A Hit In Canada Too

UPDATED: The debut of Two and a Half Men with new star Ashton Kutcher lived up to the hype ratings-wise, while NBC hit a major bump on the opening night of the season. The ninth-season premiere of Two and a Half Men last night drew 27.7 million viewers and posted a 10.3 rating in the 18-49 demographic in the fast-nationals, numbers rarely seen for show not named American Idol these days and a series record for Men by a large margin. (UPDATE: In the final ratings, which include same-night DVR viewing, Men‘s premiere climbed to 28.7 million viewers and 10.7/5 in 18-49). In 18-49, Men more than doubled its season-premiere number last fall, up 110%. This was the highest-rated season premiere on any network in six years, since Desperate Housewives‘ second-season opener in September 2005.

Two and a Half Men provided a great lead-in for CBS’ new comedy 2 Broke Girls, which drew a 7.0/13 in 18-49 and 19.5 million viewers in its premiere behind Men before it moves to the 8:30 PM slot next week. (In the finals, the numbers were adjusted to a 7.1/16, 19.4 million). The comedy starring Kat Dennings posted the largest audience for a fall comedy debut in 10 years, since NBC’s Inside Schwartz, which launched behind mega-hit Friends.

And while Men is bound to steal all ratings headlines today, another veteran CBS comedy, How I Met Your Mother, also was off to a very hot start. It opened the night at 8 PM with a 4.7/13 in 18-49. That was the comedy’s highest-rated season premiere ever, up a whopping 31% from last fall, a surge rarely seen for a series in its seventh season. A second HIMYM episode at 8:30 PM rose even further to a 5.1/13 (5.2/13 in the finals). And if it starts to seem like the Two and a Half Men tide was lifting all the CBS boats last night, that wasn’t quite the case. Somewhat surprisingly, the second-season premiere of Hawaii Five-0 at 10 PM (3.4/8) was down 13% from its series debut last year despite having a lead-in twice as big as last fall’s. Two and a Half Men and CBS easily dominated the opening night of the 2011-12 season. But, because of the big curiosity factor associated with the public firing of former Men star Charlie Sheen and his replacement Kutcher, the show was expected to open well. The question is where it will settle when the novelty wears off. As for Sheen himself, we’re awaiting to see the ratings for his roast on Comedy Central, which also aired last night. (UPDATE: Comedy Central’s Roast Of Charlie Sheen Highest-Rated In Franchise History)

On the other broadcast networks last night, NBC’s The Playboy Club got off to a disappointing start with a 1.6/4 in 18-49 and 5 million viewers at 10 PM. It was down 30% from the premiere of NBC’s short-lived drama Chase in the same slot last year and did only a little better than last fall’s big flop, Fox’s Lone Star, which opened with a 1.3/3 and 4.1 million. The Playboy Club tied another short-lived show, Crusoe, as NBC’s lowest-rated fall drama premiere ever. The Playboy Club didn’t get much help from its lead-in, a two-hour The Sing-Off, which managed a 1.9/5 in the demo and 5.2 million viewers. (Chase had a stronger lead-in last year from The Event.) Sing-Off, whose only previous run was as a limited holiday series, was down 32% from its December debut to log the show’s lowest-rated telecast. Overall, NBC’s Monday lineup was down 30% from last fall, a troublesome sign for the network, which is looking to mount a ratings turnaround. Read More »

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PTC Vs. ‘Playboy Club’: Who’s Winning?

By | Friday September 16, 2011 @ 2:32pm PDT

It’s always a bit of a risk when watchdog groups like the Parents Television Council go public with criticism of whatever it is that’s gotten their goat — or, in the PTC’s case, their bunny. In effect, going public makes it public, and therefore keeps the conversation going about something you don’t want to talk about. Case in point: Tim Winter’s group has been on NBC’s new series The Playboy Club from the start for its direct reference to the 1960s clubs that were spun off from Hugh Hefner’s Playboy magazine. There’s been calls to boycott advertisers, kudos for the decision by a Salt Lake City affiliate not to air the show, and general anger at NBC and parent Comcast attempting in the PTC’s view to “mainstream pornography.”

Now today comes the latest “hey look at this don’t watch this” in the form of a press release ripping the show’s tie-in with Playboy that has series star Laura Benanti posing on this week’s cover — timed to the series premiere Monday night — and is priced at 60 cents, the same as it was during the era in which the NBC show is set. The PTC says NBC is being hypocritical by insisting that the series isn’t about the nudity aspect of Playboy, but rather about the times in which the clubs thrived — and the group certainly has … Read More »

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New Broadcast Season: Which Network’s Got The X Factor?

Nellie Andreeva

The broadcast season unofficially kicks off tonight. And just like in a kids board game, the youngest of the networks, the CW, got to start first, unspooling its new series Ringer starring Sarah Michelle Gellar. Also launching tonight are the new seasons of the CW’s 90210 and NBC’s Parenthood, marking the unofficial start of the new season, which kicks in on Monday. Here are the networks’ standings going into the fall season:

With Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies on tap for baseball’s postseason this year, along with the heavily promoted The X Factor and new big-budget dinosaur drama Terra Nova, Fox is in a position to significantly outperform last fall when the network carried the National League Championship Series and had two DOA shows, drama Lone Star and comedy Running Wilde. The question marks at the network this fall are the new comedies, New Girl and I Hate My Teenage Daughter, though both are propped up by solid lead-ins, Glee and X Factor, respectively, and whether Glee and House can rebound after a disappointing 2010-11 season. If the stars align and X Factor lives up to its ratings expectations, Fox may win the fourth quarter as it did two years ago when it also had the American League Championship Series and the highly rated freshman season of Glee.

Fox’s main rival for the top spot in the fall will be the epitome of stability, CBS, which will get a ratings boost from the re-launch of Two and a Half Men. The consensus is that CBS has potential breakout hits on its hands with new Monday comedy Two Broke Girls, which is launching behind the much-hyped return of Two and a Half Men, and possibly Thursday drama Person of Interest. The network is getting high marks for taking its aging series such as the CSI franchise and Survivor and relocating them to troubled spots on the schedule that they shore up. The network is expected to accomplish that again this season with the mothership CSI series, which is moving to Wednesday 10 PM, with its replacement on Thursday, Person of Interest, looking to do at least as well as CSI if not better. The only question marks at CBS are new Thursday 8:30 comedy How To Be a Gentleman and where Men will settle after the initial ratings spike. Read More »

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TCA: ‘The Playboy Club’ Will Be About Female Empowerment … And Sex

Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.

NBC decided to kick off its two-day TCA soirée this morning with a bang by rolling out the cast and producers of its forthcoming period drama The Playboy Club that Joel McHale described earlier as “Mad Men with boobs.” That satirical assessment of the hour set at the Playboy Club in Chicago in the 1960s was disputed by exec producer Ian Biederman, who described it instead as a drama that “intends to show characters in a certain time and a certain place trying to become something.” The cast and producers also spoke to the show’s dedication to female strength and empowerment, rather than exploitation.

But as NBC and the producers are all too aware, Playboy Club is already a lightning rod for controversy. The NBC station in Salt Lake City already has announced it won’t carry the show, and the Parents Television Council is lobbying other stations to follow suit. Yet exec producer Chad Hodge dismissed any worries today as minor, noting, “It’s certainly (the station’s) right to air or not air the show. And we’re excited that another network in Salt Lake City has picked up the show.” As for the show’s purportedly racy content — which has been rumored to have been quietly toned down — Biederman stressed, “Anything racy is mild compared to a lot of what’s on television.” Read More »

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Parents Television Council Urges More Stations To Preempt NBC’s ‘Playboy Club’

By | Wednesday July 27, 2011 @ 10:26am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

TV watchdog Parents Television Council already targeted NBC’s new drama The Playboy Club during the pilot stage, blasting parent Comcast over nudity clauses in the actors’ contracts. Now, following a Mormon Church-owned Utah NBC affiliate’s decision not to carry the show, the PTC is urging more stations to follow suit and preempt the drama set in the 1960s at the first Playboy Club in Chicago. The PTC mocks the official series description, “a sophisticated series about the transitional times of the early 1960s and the complex lives of a group of working-class women.” “Putting a veneer of sophistication on an industry that exploits women and destroys families is not laudable, it is disgraceful,” PTC president Tim Winter wrote in letters sent out to NBC stations around the country. “In what manner does such the airing of such material reconcile with your public interest obligations as a broadcast licensee?” Read More »

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NBC’s ‘The Playboy Club’ Will Air In Salt Lake City … On MyNetworkTV

By | Tuesday June 28, 2011 @ 4:46pm PDT

KMYU-TV, the MyNetworkTV affiliate in Salt Lake City, is picking up the NBC drama The Playboy Club almost two weeks after the city’s NBC affiliate KSL dropped the series because of its subject matter. ”We respect the position of KSL and are pleased that KMYU can provide a home for The Playboy Club,” KMYU VP and general manager Steve Carlston told TVGuide. “This highly anticipated crime drama will now have the opportunity to be seen by the viewers throughout (the Salt Lake City market).” The series, a crime drama starring Eddie Cibrian and Amber Heard and set at the first Playboy Club in Chicago in the 1960s, will air in its regular Monday night slot in the fall. KSL, whose parent company is operated by the Mormon Church, was the only NBC affiliate to turn down the show.

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NBC Affiliate In Utah Won’t Air New Drama Series ‘The Playboy Club’

By | Monday June 13, 2011 @ 12:13pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Conservative NBC affiliate KSL-TV in Utah will not carry the upcoming network drama series The Playboy Club, set at the first Playboy Club in Chicago in the 1960s. The station announced its decision on-air this morning (video below). “The Playboy brand is known internationally. Everyone is clear what it stands for. We want to be sure everyone is clear what the KSL brand stands for, which is completely inconsistent with the Playboy brand,” KSL President and CEO Mark Willes said in a statement. Willies also serves as president and CEO of KSL’s parent company, Deseret Media Companies, which has ties to the Mormon church. The same station previously refused to carry NBC’s racy comedy Coupling and the religious-themed animated comedy God, the Devil and Bob. KSL’s anchor who announced the nixing of The Playboy Club described the decision as being part of the station’s “long-term policy to screen programming for material which significant portions of our audience might find objectionable.” The station stopped short of labeling the content in Playboy Club they feel viewers might find objectionable but ran a guest commentary on the announcement by the chairman of the Utah Coalition Against Pornography. KSL said it is working with NBC to find another station in the market to carry the show, slated to air Mondays at 10 PM this fall. Read More »

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UPDATE: NBC Picks Up ‘Awake’, ‘Playboy’ & ‘Grimm’

By | Thursday May 12, 2011 @ 5:17pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

UPDATE: Word is that NBC may be done with its drama pickups, though there is no official confirmation on that and no calls have been made yet to the producers of the hourlong pilots that have not gotten a pickup yet, including Stephen Gaghan’s Metro, David E. Kelley’s Wonder Woman and Michael Patrick King’s A Mann’s World.

PREVIOUS: NBC just kicked off its second day of pickups with orders to Kyle Killen’s Inception-style Awake (form. REM) and Chad Hodge’s 1960s The Playboy Club. Both hail from 20th Century Fox TV (Playboy in a co-production with Imagine TV) and have been widely expected to get the nod. Playboy has already zeroed in on a showrunner, Shark creator Ian Biederman. NBC seems to be going studio by studio, starting off with UMS’ Whitney, Up All Night, Prime Suspect and Smash yesterday, now adding 20th TV’s Awake and Playboy. NBC also just picked up another UMS pilot, the fairytale-themed Grimm, which didn’t make the cut yesterday but remained in contention.

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Parents Television Council Slams Comcast Over Nudity Clause In ‘Playboy’ Contracts

By | Friday April 1, 2011 @ 5:56pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

The Parents Television Council has put a second broadcast pilot in its cross-hairs this season. After blasting ABC over the working title of its dramedy pilot Good Christian Bitches, now the TV watchdog is attacking the NBC drama pilot The Playboy Club over the nudity clause in the actors’ contracts.

Interestingly, PTC is going after the newly merged NBCUniversal, whose network NBC commissioned the pilot, not after the pilot’s producing studio 20th Century Fox TV, whose business affairs department inserted the controversial language. “During last year’s public comment period for the Comcast/NBC merger, the PTC called on the FCC to force Comcast to stipulate … Read More »

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