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Stars Send Best Wishes to Julia Louis-Dreyfus After Breast Cancer Diagnosis

28 September 2017 12:33 PM, PDT

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, star of the legendary sitcom “Seinfeld,” announced via Twitter on Thursday that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Louis-Dreyfus, who recently broke the record for the most Emmy wins in the same category, after snagging her sixth trophy for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series for her work on “Veep,” used her diagnosis as an opportunity to advocate for universal healthcare. She acknowledged that although she has “the most glorious group of supportive and caring family and friends, and fantastic insurance though [her] union,” not every woman diagnosed with cancer would have access to those resources.

Just when you thought… pic.twitter.com/SbtYChwiEj

Julia Louis-Dreyfus (@OfficialJLD) September 28, 2017

Hollywood was quick to react to the news, with most sending best wishes to Louis-Dreyfus and her family, and several supporting her use of her platform to advocate for healthcare reform.

Anna Kendrick wrote, “F—. F—. I don’t think I realized how much I love »

- Erin Nyren

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Why Jamie Foxx Wore a Dress in New Showtime Comedy ‘White Famous’

28 September 2017 11:54 AM, PDT

According to Jamie Foxx, you can be famous, or you can be “white famous.”

That’s what he articulated on Wednesday at the Jeremy hotel in West Hollywood before the premiere for the upcoming Showtime comedy “White Famous.”

White Famous” tells the story of Floyd Mooney (Jay Pharoah), an up-and-coming stand-up comedian who is given a shot at super stardom and must find a way to balance being true to himself while still providing for his family. The series is based on the experiences of executive producer Foxx and other comics that he knows. The title references a level of fame that people of color can transcend to become famous at a universal level and be known outside of their cultural communities.

“‘White Famous’ is a bold title and we hope people peek in and see what it’s about because Floyd is going to start this incredible journey to how he can become mainstream famous and »

- Matt Fernandez

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‘Curb Your Enthusiam’ Gang Celebrates Long-Awaited Return at New York Premiere

28 September 2017 11:40 AM, PDT

The “Curb Your Enthusiasm” gang was ready to party on Wednesday night as they gathered in New York for the show’s ninth season premiere.

HBO chief Richard Plepler noted that the show’s return (after a six-year hiatus) makes it the longest-running scripted series on HBO, chronologically and by the number of seasons. He called series star Larry David “the William Butler Yeats of comedy” for the exacting work he puts in to make the show look so easy.

The crowd agreed that David is back in rare form, mining gold out of the idiosyncratic stuff of everyday life. As he greeted a receiving-line of well-wishers at the after-party, one party-goer waiting patiently for a handshake confided in his date: “He hates this. I just know he hates this.”

To hear the cast members tell it, season nine of “Curb” won’t be the last. They’re having too much fun after the long absence.

“When »

- Cynthia Littleton

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Disney Unifies Kids’ Cable Channels in ‘DisneyNow’ App

28 September 2017 11:00 AM, PDT

Disney’s cable networks group has brought together shows, movies, games, and other content from its three networks — Disney Channel, Disney Xd and Disney Junior — into a single app: DisneyNow.

Previously, Disney had separate apps for each network. As with the predecessor apps, DisneyNow offers access to full episodes and live streaming of Disney Channel, Disney Junior and Disney Xd to customers of participating cable, satellite, telco or internet TV providers. Each network also offers a selection of full episodes available for anyone to watch, without pay-tv credentials.

DisneyNow is aimed at reinforcing the media conglomerate’s existing pay-tv biz — and is separate from the Disney-branded direct-to-consumer movie-streaming service, currently slated for 2019 when Disney’s movie-output deal with Netflix expires.

This summer, Fox Networks Group executed a similar move: Its updated Fox Now app brings together shows from Fox, FX and National Geographic together for the first time on a digital platform.

For »

- Todd Spangler

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‘Madam Secretary’ Heads to Netflix, WeTV in Rich Syndication Pacts

28 September 2017 11:00 AM, PDT

The CBS drama “Madam Secretary” is heading to Netflix, cabler We TV and the CBS-owned station group in syndication deals that are expected to generate about $2 million an episode for the show.

The tri-part licensing pact for the Tea Leoni starrer that is now in its fourth season reflects the new realities of selling shows in syndication through a patchwork-quilt model of deals. “Madam Secretary,” produced by CBS Television Studios, has been a workhorse for CBS, but the licensing coin is nonetheless surprisingly rich at a time when there’s no shortage of dramas on the off-network market.

“CBS dramas continue to be in demand on all viewing platforms as their subscribers and viewers covet content that appeals to mass audiences,” said Scott Koondel, chief content licensing office of CBS Corporation. “This proven off-network model will provide tremendous incremental value for both CBS and our licensing partners.”

The first three seasons of “Madam Secretary” are now available »

- Cynthia Littleton

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Joel Silver Developing Female-Led ‘Nice Guys’ Series Adaptation at Fox

28 September 2017 11:00 AM, PDT

Joel Silver is adapting his 2016 buddy cop comedy “The Nice Guys” into a female-led drama series at Fox, Variety has learned.

“The Nice Girls[/link]” is a described as a one-hour contemporary female take on Silver’s acclaimed feature film, which starred Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling and was co-written and directed by Silver’s frequent collaborator Shane Black. Fox has ordered a script for the project from Silver Pictures Television with a significant penalty attached.

Michael Diliberti will write and executive produce, with Silver and his president of television Rodney Ferrell also executive producing. Ken Kao will also executive produce. Diliberti wrote the comedy film “30 Minutes or Less” for Sony/Columbia which starred Jesse Eisenberg and Danny McBride and is next set to direct his script “Miami, Pi” for RatPac and Pulse Films.

The project is a co-production between Lionsgate, 20th Century Fox Television, and Silver Pictures Television. It falls under Silver’s first-look deal at Lionsgate »

- Joe Otterson

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Julia Louis-Dreyfus Reveals Breast Cancer Diagnosis

28 September 2017 10:33 AM, PDT

Julia Louis-Dreyfus revealed on Thursday that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

The “Veep” star and executive producer made the announcement on Twitter, writing, “1 in 8 women get breast cancer. Today, I’m the one.”

“The good news is that I have the most glorious group of supportive and caring family and friends,” she added. “The bad news is that not all women are so lucky, so let’s fight all cancers and make universal health care a reality.”

Just when you thought… pic.twitter.com/SbtYChwiEj

Julia Louis-Dreyfus (@OfficialJLD) September 28, 2017

Louis-Dreyfus received the diagnosis the day after she won her record sixth consecutive Emmy for her role as former VP-turned-president Selina Meyer on the hit HBO comedy. She now has the distinction of most Emmys won by a single performer for one role.

While it was announced earlier this month that the seventh season of “Veep” would be its final, that »

- Maane Khatchatourian and Danielle Turchiano

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TV Review: ‘Ghosted,’ Starring Adam Scott and Craig Robinson

28 September 2017 10:00 AM, PDT

Craig Robinson and Adam Scott star in this paranormal buddy-cop comedy about a mall security guard and a disgraced professor who are recruited by a shadowy government agency to investigate a mysterious disappearance. If that already sounds ridiculous, that’s the point; the sitcom is a lightweight spoof of science-fiction infosec thrillers that speeds through plot points at lightning speed.

The meat of the sitcom is in the relationship between Leeroy (Robinson) and Max (Scott), which brings two very different loners together in a shared mission. Leeroy, a former Lapd officer, left the force after his poor decision-making left his partner dead; Max isn’t a professor anymore because his full-throated belief that aliens abducted his wife. Scott, the better known of the pair, is an adorably goofy partner, but it’s Robinson that emerges as the show’s standout comedian, with delivery and emphasis that makes even the dumbest little jokes funny. Pilot »

- Sonia Saraiya

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Skydance TV Signs Patrick Massett, John Zinman to Overall Deal

28 September 2017 9:39 AM, PDT

Skydance Television has entered an overall deal with writer-producers Patrick Massett and John Zinman, the company announced Thursday.

Massett and Zinman’s television careers began with “Veritas: The Quest” at ABC, which they co-created and executive produced. They went on to co-executive produce the Emmy Award winning “Friday Night Lights” at NBC, “The Chicago Code” at Fox, and “Last Resort” at ABC. The duo then co-executive produced “The Blacklist” at NBC. Their most recent television credit includes executive producers and showrunners at NBC’s “The Player.” They got their start in film by co-writing “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” and their most recent film, “Gold,” was released in January.

The studio currently has several projects in development with the pair, including the first-ever live action television series for “Sword Art Online” (“Sao”), the massive Japanese novel and anime franchise to which Skydance acquired the global rights last year. Massett and Zinman will serve as writers, showrunners »

- Joe Otterson

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Bill O’Reilly Backs Off CNN Appearance

28 September 2017 9:02 AM, PDT

It seemed like the most interesting booking CNN would have in decades: In August, former Fox News Channel host Bill O’Reilly told CNN weekend host Michael Smerconish he’d make an appearance on his program, marking the first time O’Reilly would ever appear on the cable-news network with which he competed for 20 years.

Now, O’Reilly has backed away from the idea.

Speaking on his program on Sirius Xm radio show, Smerconish told listeners O’Reilly had told him he would not follow through on the concept, citing “history” with the Time Warner-owned outlet. “Needless to say there’s a lot of ground that I would have liked to have covered with him,” Smerconish said Thursday morning. “But that’s not going to happen, at least not now.”

O’Reilly has been on a tour to promote his new book “Killing England,” which was published this month by Henry Holt. He »

- Brian Steinberg

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TV Review: ‘Kevin (Probably) Saves the World,’ Starring Jason Ritter

28 September 2017 9:00 AM, PDT

“I think everything is beautiful. And I don’t like it,” says Kevin (Jason Ritter) to Yvette (Kimberly Hébert Gregory). She is not surprised by this confession, because Yvette is an angel — a no-nonsense, business-casual kind of angel, minus the wings. She came to earth via a meteor — one of 36 who have shown up and glommed on to humans to try to set the human race to rights.

This is a weird, weighty mythology to drop in a pilot episode — a mix of theology, science fiction, and camp — and “Kevin (Probably) Saves the World” almost collapses under the weight of it. The opening 20 minutes of the pilot drags the viewer through canned philosophical leading questions about our place in the world and nighttime meteorite-chasing through cornfields, which is quite at odds with the show’s semi-ironic title.

But it holds together, chiefly through the earnest charm of Ritter’s performance as Kevin, who »

- Sonia Saraiya

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Tracey Wigfield on ‘Great News’ Season 2 Guest Stars and Why Trump Won’t Affect the Show’s Narrative

28 September 2017 9:00 AM, PDT

Tracey Wigfield had her hand in critically acclaimed workplace comedies “30 Rock” and “The Mindy Project” before creating her own sitcom, “Great News.” Fictionalizing her relationship with her own lovingly invasive mother, Wigfield’s “Great News” focuses on changing familial dynamics when Carol (Andrea Martin) lands an internship at her daughter Katie’s (Briga Heelan) place of work.

About to premiere its sophomore season, Wigfield is now expanding the cast dynamics to “delve a little more deeply” into the personal lives of the characters who make up the fictional cable newsroom at the center of “Great News.” “In a nice way from the pilot, we very quickly realized the show was a little crazier and a little more insane workplace comedy of weirdos than I even realized I was writing,” Wigfield tells Variety.

Wigfield spoke to Variety ahead of the “Great News” Season 2 premiere about upcoming guest stars, how President Donald Trump will (and won’t) impact the »

- Rebecca Rubin

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TV Ratings: ‘Empire’ Lifts ‘Star,’ ‘Seal Team’ Scores Wednesday’s Biggest Audience

28 September 2017 8:28 AM, PDT

Fox’s new Wednesday combination of “Empire” and “Star” proved strong enough to give the network a win for the night in the key demo, according to Nielsen overnight data.

Airing at 8 p.m., “Empire’s” Season 4 premiere averaged a 2.4 rating in adults 18-49 and 6.9 million total viewers. That is down by close to 40 percent in both measures compared to the Season 3 premiere (4.2, 10.9 million), but approximately even with the Season 3 finale (2.5, 6.9 million). “Star’s” Season 2 premiere at 9 p.m. averaged a 1.8 and 5.5 million viewers. That is down by close to 20 percent in both measures from the first season’s premiere (2.2, 6.7 million), but up by approximately 40 percent in both measures compared to the Season 1 finale (1.3, 3.9 million)  and by approximately 40 percent in the demo and 30 percent in total viewers compared to the Season 1 Live+Same Day average overall (1.3, 4.2 million).

On CBS, the Season 35 debut of “Survivor” drew a 1.7 and 8.1 million viewers, down by close to 30 percent in the key »

- Joe Otterson

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Anne Jeffreys, ‘General Hospital’ and ‘Topper’ Actress, Dies at 94

28 September 2017 8:24 AM, PDT

Anne Jeffreys, the actress and singer known for her roles in the 1950s sitcom “Topper” and long-running daytime soap opera “General Hospital,” has died. She was 94.

News of her death was first reported by George Pennacchio, an entertainment reporter with ABC7, who tweeted “The beautiful and elegant actress, Anne Jeffreys, has died at 94. She was a sweetheart.”

Jeffreys’ career started in the early 1940s with a number of film roles including “Step Lively,” a musical starring Frank Sinatra. In the late ’40s she turned to Broadway. She replaced Patricia Morison in “Kiss Me, Kate” in 1948, and also appeared in the 1952 musical “Three Wishes for Jamie.”

Between 1952 and 1955 she starred in the CBS sitcom “Topper.” Her husband, Robert Sterling, was also part of the show’s central cast. Jeffreys played Marion Kerby, billed in the credits as “the ghostess with the mostest.”

In the ’60s she appeared in television shows including “L.A. Law” and “Murder, She »

- Seth Kelley

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The Fyzz Facility Sets Up New TV Arm, Led by Zoe Rocha

28 September 2017 3:49 AM, PDT

London-based film producer and financer The Fyzz Facility is expanding into television, setting up a new TV arm to create high-end scripted programs for the international market.

Zoe Rocha has been tapped as managing director of The Fyzz Facility TV. Rocha helped found LittleRock Pictures, to which she’ll continue to serve as a consultant; the company’s border-control mockumentary series, “Borderline,” which airs on Britain’s Channel 5 and on Netflix, has a second season coming out next month. Rocha has also worked with Stephen Fry and Jeremy Thomas.

“We are thrilled to be launching The Fyzz Facility TV at a time when there is so much talent and innovation in this arena,” Fyzz Facility co-founder Wayne Marc Godfrey said in a statement. “Zoe combines great taste and talent relationships with an irrepressible entrepreneurial energy.”

Rocha said the new TV arm would focus on developing “high-end, prestigious, visionary drama” and establishing “a place for writers and directors »

- Henry Chu

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Viacom Backs U.K. Indie Producer Banjo Television

28 September 2017 1:57 AM, PDT

Viacom has backed start-up U.K. production company Banjo Television, which will be launched by former BBC Studios executive Mike Smith and British TV presenter David Olusoga in October.

The backing for the producer comes through Elephant House, which is the production division of Viacom-owned broadcaster Channel 5. The new company, which will specialize in high-end factual and history content, will work out of Elephant House’s studio space in Camden, London.

The deal sees Viacom provide infrastructure, studio space and support to Banjo, and Channel 5 has an option to take a minority stake in the business.

Smith and Olusoga worked on BBC Two history series “The Ottomans: Europe’s Muslim Emperors.” “We are delighted to be the first U.K. indie to be backed by Viacom,” said Smith. “The team at Elephant House have the business and production expertise to give us the infrastructure to hit the ground running.”

British-Nigerian »

- Stewart Clarke

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Amazon Snaps Up BBC, AMC Crime Drama ‘McMafia’

28 September 2017 1:34 AM, PDT

Amazon has taken upcoming BBC crime drama “McMafia” and will launch the series on its Prime Video streaming service in 200 territories.

The deal, with series distributor BBC Worldwide, excludes the U.K., where the show will air on BBC One, and the U.S. and Canada, where it will be on AMC. The global agreement also cuts out China, where Amazon does not have a streaming service and where separate discussions are underway.

McMafia” is about organized crime in modern-day Europe, and is based upon the bestselling nonfiction book by Misha Glenny. The TV drama was created created by Hossein Amini (“Drive”) and James Watkins, who directed all eight installments.

James Norton (“War and Peace”) stars as Alex Goodman, an English-raised son of Russian exiles with a mafia history. He has spent his life trying to escape the shadow of that criminal past, which comes back to haunt him and his girlfriend, Rebecca »

- Stewart Clarke

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Rita Ora Promises ‘Amazing Outfits…and Some English Humor’ as Host of MTV EMAs

27 September 2017 11:13 PM, PDT

Rita Ora will host this year’s MTV EMAs from London, promising to bring “a lot of glamour, a lot of amazing outfits, and definitely some English humor” to the proceedings. The awards travel around Europe; this year’s event will be held Nov. 12 in the Sse Arena in Wembley, London.

Kosovo-born Ora grew up in the British capital and has been nominated eight times at the EMAs over the years in categories including Best Video, Best Look and Best U.K. Artist. In addition to hosting the awards ceremony, she will perform her new single and, possibly, “Lonely Together,” the track she made with Avicii.

“To host it is really important for me, seeing as I grew up in Britain. I just really want to have fun with it and enjoy every moment,” Ora told Variety. “Every year I’d watch it, and everything was so shocking and amazing and live and had such a great »

- Stewart Clarke

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Hugh Hefner, Playboy Founder, Dies at 91

27 September 2017 8:30 PM, PDT

Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner died on Wednesday at the Playboy Mansion in the Holmby Hills neighborhood of West Los Angeles. He was 91.

The media mogul’s influence went far beyond publishing — he created the sexual revolution nearly single-handedly (with some help from the advent of the birth control pill and the rise of feminism).

After starting the status quo-shattering Playboy magazine in 1953, Hefner went on to launch TV and film companies, finance documentaries, and preside over the Hollywood social scene from his bubbling Jacuzzi at the mansion, a frequent location for industry events. The mansion, which had became somewhat run-down, was sold in 2016, but the terms of the sale specified that he was allowed to live there until his death.

He is survived by his wife, Crystal, and four grown children: Christie, who served as CEO of Playboy Enterprise for more than 20 years, David, Marston, and Cooper, who currently serves as Chief Creative Officer at the »

- Pat Saperstein

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‘Empire’ Boss on Season 4’s New Lucious: ‘There’s No Going Back on This Story’

27 September 2017 6:00 PM, PDT

Spoiler Alert: Do not read if you have not watched “Noble Memory,” the Sept. 27 fourth season premiere of “Empire.”

When showrunner Ilene Chaiken and the “Empire” writers room broke the story for the fourth season premiere of Fox’s family drama, they wanted to be clear that the accident Lucious (Terrence Howard) went through in the third season finale would lead to permanent injuries that had long-lasting consequences, not only for him but for his family as well. In addition to the amnesia he revealed at the end of that third season, he also lost part of his leg in the car bombing his son Andre (Trai Byers) orchestrated.

This kind of physical impairment led to Lucious’ pain throughout the premiere, as well as his son’s guilt and other family members’ empathy – an emotion not often expressed for the man who has been so vicious and violent in the past.

Chaiken »

- Danielle Turchiano

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