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Trump Says His Criticism of Anthem Protests ‘Has Nothing to Do With Race’

26 minutes ago

President Donald Trump said on Sunday that his criticism of NFL players who kneel during the National Anthem in protest of racial injustice in the United States “has nothing to do with race.”

“We have great people representing our country, especially our soldiers, our first responders, and they should be treated with respect,” Trump said when asked about his comments by a group of reporters. “And when you get on your knee and you don’t respect the America flag or the anthem, that’s not being treated with respect.”

When a reporter asked asked the president if he is “inflaming racial tensions,” he replied: “This has nothing to do with race. I never said anything about race. This has nothing to do with race or anything else. This has to do with respect for our country and respect for our flag.”

These comments follow a feud that ignited over the weekend between Trump and the NFL »


- Seth Kelley

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Shonda Rhimes Calls for Better Lgbt Representation in Hollywood: ‘People Deserve Realistic Portrayals’

2 hours ago

The Los Angeles Lgbt Center hosted its 48th Gala Vanguard awards on Saturday at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills. Hosted by comedian Jimmy Kimmel, this year’s honorees included co-ceo of William Morris Endeavor Ari Emanuel and former senior advisor to President Barack Obama Valerie Jarrett. Also in attendance were J.J. Abrams, Peter Berg, and Wilson Cruz.

The ceremony brings together leaders in the entertainment, corporate, and philanthropic industries to celebrate honorees for their support of the Lgbt community. Speaking on behalf of his honor, Emanuel noted that it is important for those who have the ability to shed light on Lgbt issues to do so.

“We have a huge platform based on the movies we make and on the TV shows we make and the things we do,” said Emanuel. “We have the ability to shed light on things or not, and I think it is important for all of us to shed light »


- Arya Roshanian

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National Anthem Singer Rico Lavelle Kneels, Raises Fist During NFL Performance (Watch)

3 hours ago

Rico Lavelle, the singer who performed the National Anthem before Sunday’s football between the Detroit Lions and Atlanta Falcons, ended his performance one knee with his fist raised.

The move follows calls from President Donald Trump to “fire or suspend” NFL players who kneel during the anthem as a means of protesting racial injustice in the United States. Trump has also demanded a boycott of the NFL.

An initial wave of outrage followed remarks Trump made during a rally in Alabama on Friday. Including from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who denounced Trump’s remarks, calling them “divisive” and disrespectful. DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association, also tweeted a more direct statement: “We will never back down. We no longer can afford to stick to sports,” it said in part.

Protests kicked off early on Sunday when dozens of players on both the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars took a knee during their game »


- Seth Kelley

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NFL Announcers, Commentators Slam Trump Comments on Player Protests

3 hours ago

Football announcers and commentators were vocal on Sunday pre-game shows in objecting to President Donald Trump’s condemnation of NFL players for kneeling during the National Anthem and other demonstrations of protest.

“To be dismissive, vulgar and divisive with comments that reflect a lack of understanding, insensitive, and indeed colonizing does not serve the purpose of trying to honestly resolve problems, build bridges and foster civil dialogue,” said James Brown, host of CBS’ “NFL Today. “What would be more effective is … the kind of dialogue that uses the four-letter word that former UCLA coach John Wooden said is the most powerful one to effect change — and that is love.”

The President’s calls for fans to boycott NFL games until the league takes a stand on player protests. At a rally on Friday night, he said NFL owners should fire players who choose to kneel during the National Anthem. The debate over player protests flared up last »


- Cynthia Littleton

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‘American Idol’: Country Star Luke Bryan to Take Second Seat at Judges Table (Exclusive)

3 hours ago

With a week left until “American Idol” auditions are due to start, the show has confirmed Luke Bryan as a second judge, sources tell Variety. The country star will join Katy Perry for the series’ reboot on ABC. While the third spot has yet to be locked down, word from inside the production is that “Idol” will stick with a panel of three and not four judges.

Lionel Richie, who was reported to have been in advanced talks to join the show, appears to no longer be in the running. Other artists considered for the panel included Charlie Puth and Keith Urban, though it looks unlikely that either will round out the judges’ table.

ABC’s revival of the long-running Fox series has been slowly taking shape since it was announced in May. Perry was revealed to be a judge shortly after the deal at ABC was made, for a salary of $25 million.

Ryan Seacrest »


- Shirley Halperin

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NFL to Air Ad Promoting Unity in Wake of Trump Attacks on Anthem Protests

7 hours ago

The NFL plans to air an ad promoting unity following President Donald Trump’s campaign to “fire or suspend” National Anthem protestors.

The one-minute ad, originally produced for the Super Bowl earlier this year, will run during NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” telecast.

“We think this is the single best response to demonstrate what we are about,” an NFL spokesman told CNN, which first reported the news.

“Inside these lines, we don’t have to come from the same place to help each other reach the same destination,” Forest Whitaker intones in the ad. “Inside these lines, we may have our differences, but recognize there’s more that unites us.”

This comes as a reaction to a feud that ignited over the weekend between Trump and the NFL. On Friday, Trump told a rally in Alabama, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to »


- Seth Kelley

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NFL Players Kneel to Protest During Anthem in First Game Since Trump Remarks

8 hours ago

Updated: NFL players took a knee or locked arms on Sunday during the National Anthem in the first games since President Donald Trump attacked players for engaging in such protests and the league itself for supporting them.

The first show of support for NFL players took place in London at Wembley Stadium, as the Baltimore Ravens faced Jacksonville Jaguars. Among those who participated in the protest was Jaguars owner Shahid Khan, who locked arms with tight end Mercedes Lewis and linebacker Telvin Smith.

The Pittsburgh Steelers sat out the rendition of the National Anthem in Chicago, where they squared off against the Bears. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and some staffers were the only ones on the field as it was sung while the players stayed in the locker room. One player, Alejandro Villanueva and a military veteran who served three tours of duty in Afghanistan, stood near the entrance. The »


- Seth Kelley

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Justin Timberlake Manager Johnny Wright Signs TV’s ‘Boy Band’ Winners

20 hours ago

Pop group In Real Life, comprised of winners from the ABC singing competition show “Boy Band,” has signed on with Johnny Wright’s Wright Entertainment Group (Weg) for management. Wright is known for his long-standing pedigree with boy band successes — going back to New Kids on the Block, Backstreet Boys, and NSync — and solo artist launches, most notably Justin Timberlake, who he continues to represent.

More recently, Weg’s roster has included such groups as Jonas Brothers and Menudo, as well as reality show projects “On the Spot,” “Making the Band,” and “All About Aubrey,” starring another Wright client, Aubrey O’Day.

The members of In Real LifeBrady Tutton, Chance Perez, Drew Ramos, Sergio Calderon, and Michael Conor — were announced as victors on “Boy Band” on August 24, the night they also performed their first single, “Eyes Closed,” which is being released through Hollywood Records.

Boy Band,” hosted by Rita Ora, featured »


- Shirley Halperin

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Watch ‘Will & Grace’ Cast Perform Show’s Theme Song With Lyrics

22 hours ago

Get down! ‘Will & Grace’ is coming to town!”

The cast of “Will & Grace” brought their NBC show’s iconic theme song to life Friday night on “The Tonight Show.”

Stars Debra Messing, Eric McCormack, Megan Mullally, and Sean Hayes sang the theme music with lyrics “for the first time ever.”

Jimmy Fallon introduced the foursome, as each took the stage, one by one, to perform solos.

The song begins with Messing singing, “I’m Debra Messing as you probably know. You might remember me from the cast of the show. Grace is a character that I play — interior designer and Will’s roommate.”

McCormack then joins in from the audience, “I’m Eric McCormack and I play Will. The show is coming back and I’m playing him still. You can see it this fall on NBC, remember when we used to call it ‘must-see TV?'”

McCormack and Messing together belt out the chorus, “Get down »


- Maane Khatchatourian

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USA and Oxygen Acquire Rerun Rights to ‘Chicago P.D.’

22 September 2017 9:17 PM, PDT

USA Network and Oxygen have cut a deal for the rerun rights to NBC’s “Chicago P.D.

The drama series hails from producer Dick Wolf’s prolific Wolf Entertainment banner based at Universal Television. The series is heading into its fifth season its NBC.

Chicago P.D.” is one of three Chicago-based procedurals that have become pillars of NBC’s primetime lineup. “Chicago Fire” launched the franchise in 2012, followed by “Chicago P.D.” in 2014 and “Chicago Med” in 2015. Last season, NBC fielded a fourth installment, the legal-themed “Chicago Justice,” but the show was not renewed for a second year.

The “Chicago” shows have been solid performers for NBC but according to industry sources they have been a tough sell in domestic syndication. “Chicago Fire” and “Chicago P.D.” have been on the market for some time. Industry sources said “P.D.” in the combined deal with NBCUniversal siblings USA and Oxygen fetched about $500,000 an episode. That »


- Cynthia Littleton

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CBS Developing Drama Based on Internet Abuse Attorney Carrie Goldberg (Exclusive)

22 September 2017 4:00 PM, PDT

CBS is developing a drama series based on real-life attorney Carrie Goldberg, Variety has learned exclusively.

The untitled project would follow a young lawyer in Brooklyn who, after enduring vicious online and offline attacks herself, opens her own firm to place herself and her team on the front lines of defending victims of crimes in the age of the Internet where the law hasn’t yet caught up with technology.

Jennifer Cecil, who previously served as showrunner on “Private Practice,” will write and executive produce. Goldberg will also executive produce along with Michelle Sy and Sophia Chang. Escape ArtistsTodd Black, Jason Blumenthal, and Steven Tisch will also executive produce, with Taylor Latham serving as co-executive producer. Sony Pictures Television will produce in association with CBS Television Studios.

Cecil is repped by UTA. Goldberg is repped by attorney Wendy Heller. Sy and Chang are repped by Tantillo Entertainment and Marks Law Group.

Goldberg »


- Joe Otterson

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Disney Says Carriage Talks With Altice Could Reach Impasse

22 September 2017 4:00 PM, PDT

Disney and the cable company once known as Cablevision are at it again.

The two companies, whose fractious carriage negotiations in 2010 resulted in viewers in New York and Connecticut missing 13 minutes of ABC’s broadcast of the Oscars awards ceremonies, are heading for an impasse in current discussions, according to Disney. Altice Nv purchased Cablevision Systems in June of 2016 for about $10 billion. Its Altice USA unit serves more than 4.6 million customers, and is one of the biggest content distributors in the nation. Disney controls such popular networks as ABC, Espn, Disney Channel and Freeform, among others.

Richard Greenfield, a media industry analyst with Btig Research, said in a recent note that he believes the current discussions entail carriage rights for Disney’s cable portfoilo and retransmission rights for ABC’s owned-and-operated stations. “We believe negotiations between the two sides have deteriorated and the odds of a carriage interruption are growing quickly,” Greenfield »


- Brian Steinberg

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Greg Berlanti to Shepherd Time Travel Love Story, Football Drama Projects at CW

22 September 2017 3:30 PM, PDT

Greg Berlanti has signed on to executive produce two new drama projects in development at The CW, Variety has learned.

The first project is titled “Hold Fast.” It is described as an epic love story told in two timelines, following an injured Union soldier in the Reconstruction-era South who awakens reincarnated in present-day Charleston. With rapidly diminishing knowledge of his past life, he must navigate present-day relationships, including a fiancée he doesn’t remember, while uncovering what happened to his past love and searching for her. Dana Stevens will write and executive produce. Berlanti will executive produce with his producing partner Sarah Schecter.

The second, untitled project is inspired by the life of NFL football player Spencer Paysinger. It follows a rising high school football player from South Central L.A. who  is recruited to play for Beverly Hills High. April Blair will write and executive produce the Paysinger project, with »


- Joe Otterson

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David Lyle, Veteran Executive and Reality TV Champion, Dies at 67

22 September 2017 3:27 PM, PDT

David Lyle, a TV veteran who championed unscripted TV and headed National Geographic Channels and Fox Reality Channel, died Thursday at his home in Los Angeles after a long battle with cancer. He was 67.

After working in TV in Australia and in London, Lyle came to Los Angeles in 2001 as head of FremantleMedia North America where he helped launch “American Idol” on Fox. He most recently served as president of Pact US, an advocacy org for unscripted TV producers.

Earlier this year, Lyle helped steer the merger of Pact US with the rival Nonfiction Producers Association, creating Npact. The organization reps most of the largest unscripted TV production companies.

“David Lyle was one of the few television executives who thrived on both a creative and business level,” said Howard T. Owens, co-CEO of Propagate Content, who worked with Lyle at Nat Geo. “He was one of the kindest, most fun, and »


- Cynthia Littleton

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‘Scandal’ Season 7: Olivia Has Absolute Power, but Will It Corrupt Her Absolutely?

22 September 2017 2:51 PM, PDT

At the end of the sixth season of “Scandal,” Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) was in the power seat as the chief of staff to the first female president (Bellamy Young’s Mellie) and the new head of B613. And when the seventh and final season starts, Olivia is enjoying wielding her power, even though it may mean pushing aside those who have been closest to her.

“Olivia’s sitting in the highest seat,” said Washington during a set visit of which Variety was a part. “Anything that jeopardizes her ability to show up for the republic is potentially a problem. Relationships are not the most important thing right now, unless that relationship serves and enhances her ability to wield her power in the ways that she needs to.”

Olivia once wore a white hat as she fought to serve her clients, many of whom had been wronged by politicians or the system in general. Now »


- Danielle Turchiano

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Fox Developing Drama Based on Book ‘Our Kind of People: Inside America’s Black Upper Class’ (Exclusive)

22 September 2017 2:30 PM, PDT

Fox has ordered a script for a drama series based on the book “Our Kind of People: Inside America’s Black Upper Class,” Variety has learned exclusively.

The book by Lawrence Otis Graham was a non-fiction piece in which Graham interviewed members of some of the most prominent black families in America. The series is described as a multi-generational family drama uncovering the lives of America’s black upper class by chronicling a dazzling Chicago dynasty with a dark secret threatening to rip it apart.

Wendy Calhoun will write the project and executive produce. Ben Silverman and Montrel McKay will also executive produce. 20th Century Fox Television will produce.

Should it move forward, “Our Kind of People” would be the latest Fox show to focus on wealthy black Americans. The network has found great success with “Empire,” which explores the drama inside of a multi-million dollar family-run record label headed by characters played by Terrence Howard and »


- Joe Otterson

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Nielsen Sues ComScore to Block New TV Audience Measurement Service

22 September 2017 12:03 PM, PDT

Nielsen Holdings filed a lawsuit Friday seeking to block rival ComScore from offering a new service, Extended TV, that will provide TV audience data.

Nielsen alleges that the ComScore service will make use of Nielsen’s own People Meter data, violating an agreement between the two companies. Nielsen is seeking an injunction that would bar ComScore from launching the service.

The litigation marks an escalation of the bitter rivalry between the two audience measurement firms.

The groundwork for the dispute was laid back in 2013, when Nielsen acquired Arbitron. In order to preserve competition in the audience measurement business, the Federal Trade Commission approved a consent agreement requiring Nielsen to license People Meter data to ComScore, for the purpose of creating a “cross-platform” measurement service. Such a service would have to measure both TV and online viewership, Nielsen contends.

Nielsen alleges that ComScore’s new service, called Extended TV, violates that agreement. On »

- Gene Maddaus

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Lin Pictures Hires Tristar’s Lindsey Liberatore as Head of TV

22 September 2017 11:00 AM, PDT

Lin Pictures has hired former Tristar Television executive Lindsey Liberatore as senior vice president of television, the company announced Friday.

In her new role, Liberatore will oversee all development and television operations for Lin Pictures. Prior to joining Lin Pictures, Liberatore was vice president of Sony Pictures Television’s TriStar label, which she joined in 2015 as an executive working in development and current programming. While at Tristar, Liberatore oversaw the Hulu series “Shut Eye” and worked on multiple projects for Amazon, including “Good Girls Revolt,” “The Last Tycoon,” and “The Interestings” pilot.

“I am excited that Lindsey is bringing her strong creative instincts and her love of working with great storytellers to Lin Pictures,” said Dan Lin, founder and chief executive of Lin Pictures. “She embodies the collaborative spirit of our company and is the perfect executive to lead our television business.”

Prior to her role as a studio executive, Liberatore »


- Joe Otterson

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TV Review: ‘Transparent’ Season 4 on Amazon Prime

22 September 2017 10:41 AM, PDT

This year’s Emmy Awards provided a potent reminder of how fickle voters can be. After collecting multiple statuettes in key categories over its first few years, Amazon Prime’s “Transparent” got shut out in 2017. What once seemed as buzzy as a TV show can get has cooled off, as if the snubbed third season was indication of a show past its peak.

But diehard fans of Jill Soloway’s acclaimed dramedy can take heart in its fourth season: “Transparent” is as strong as it’s ever been, judging by the 10 episodes the streaming service released Friday.

A good chunk of this year’s episodes take the Pfefferman clan to Israel, where the baggage they unload doesn’t stop at Ben Gurion Airport. Three generations of Pfefferman get to squabble when Maura (Jeffrey Tambor) discovers the father (Jerry Adler, who played Hesh Rabkin on “”The Sopranos”) he was told had died is actually alive and very well »


- Andrew Wallenstein

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Espn Will Count Linear, Streaming Audiences as One

22 September 2017 10:35 AM, PDT

As Espn viewers watch the kickoff to next week’s “Monday Night Football” game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Arizona Cardinals, Espn executives will be attempting a pivotal play all their own.

The Disney-controlled sports-media outlet will next week cease reporting separate live viewership figures for linear TV and streaming, and instead report them as a single number. Monday’s broadcast day will be the first on which Espn will offer a live “total audience” number that reflects both traditional TV watching as well as viewing via streaming services, executives said Friday. Espn and Nielsen, the media-measurement firm upon whose data the industry relies, will add to that number over the next few weeks, adding in viewing done on mobile screens as well as viewing done via “out of home” sources, like TVs in bars and hotels.

Viewers “consume our content on a wide variety of screens,  a wide variety of technologies,” said »


- Brian Steinberg

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