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NBC joins binge-viewing: all episodes of "Aquarius" to go online after TV series premiere

By Rich Heldenfels Published: April 30, 2015

The official word: To offer viewers the same binge-viewing experience they now enjoy on streaming platforms, NBC will make the unprecedented move of releasing all 13 episodes of David Duchovny’s new series “Aquarius” on and the NBC app after the show’s two-hour linear network premiere on May 28, 2015. The entire series will also be offered to all other video-on-demand platforms for release at that time as well.

In making the announcement, NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt said, “With ‘Aquarius’ we have the opportunity to push some new boundaries to give our audience something no broadcast network has done before. We are fully aware how audiences want to consume multiple episodes of new television series faster and at their own discretion, and we’re excited to offer our viewers this same experience since all 13 episodes of this unique show have been produced and are ready to be seen. I appreciate the enthusiasm we’ve gotten from the producers of the show and our partner Marty Adelstein of Tomorrow Studios to launch this series in a new, forward-thinking way.”

One of the key points of the arrangement is that the show will be available to only a handful of certain advertising partners so the linear broadcast on NBC will mirror the commercial load on the VOD platforms. This will result in limited interruption — both on-air and off — giving viewers and advertising partners an enhanced and innovative experience.

The full 13 episodes will remain up on the various digital platforms for a four-week period, while each new one-hour episode will continue to premiere, as planned, each week in the 9 p.m. Thursday timeslot on NBC.

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Kris Pickel leaving WKYC

By Rich Heldenfels Published: April 29, 2015

Kris Pickel, the weeknight co-anchor on WKYC (Channel 3) for the past three years, will leave the station in late May for a new job in Phoenix, Ariz.

Pickel will become evening co-anchor for KPHO, the CBS affiliate in Phoenix, WKYC general manager Micki Byrnes confirmed Wednesday.

A native of Sacramento, Calif., she worked mainly in the western U.S., including Nevada, Colorado and Tucson, AZ, before joining WKYC. The Phoenix move also puts her closer to family and, according to Byrnes, KPHO may offer a chance to move into management later.

Phoenix is also a growing TV market, currently ranked 11th according to Nielsen. Cleveland-Akron-Canton ranks 19th.

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Did Jason Whitlock's "LeBron Project" understand King James? Or is Deadspin undervaluing James?

By Rich Heldenfels Published: April 28, 2015

Deadspin has posted a long, very critical piece about sports commentator Jason Whitlock (who, frankly, deserves criticism). Among its elements is a description of items Whitlock had planned for The Undefeated, his ESPN-backed site. Here's how the Deadspin piece describes part of that plan:

Most telling of all, though, is the “LeBron Project”:

This is strange for a number of reasons, and the fact that it’s flatly wrong on a conceptual level—LeBron James has in no way transcended Michael Jordan—is the least of them. The only possible explanation of his bizarre misreading of history, which makes claims on LeBron’s behalf that LeBron himself never would, is that allusion at the end to Whitlock’s “close ties” to the superstar’s retinue. Only someone sympathetic to LeBron James’s business interests would suggest the man has anything in common with Muhammad Ali, who is an icon not just because he was a great boxer, but because he risked a prison term for refusing to kill for his government, and who fought for the right to his agency, his religion, even his name.

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"Mad Men": Dreams denied (contains spoilers from Sunday)

By Rich Heldenfels Published: April 27, 2015

So much of "Mad Men" has been about dreams: dreams of success, dreams of a perfect life, the American dream, and so on. As I have said before, including at the beginning of this season, the show has especially been about people fulfilling their dreams -- getting what they thought they wanted -- only to discover that the getting is far less satisfying than it seemed in those dreams.

As we began this year, the central characters in the ad agency were sitting on piles of money from the McCann deal, and still they weren't happy: for example, Don was going through another divorce, and Joan and Peggy were still confronted by unapologetic sexism.

Then, in Sunday's episode, the dreamscape pretty well vanished.

The agency, long independent within the McCann organization, is getting folded into the main operation. (The minute I heard that, I thought, OK, this is the move toward a definite series ending which we have been awaiting.)

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HeldenFiles: Notes on Bruce Jenner

By Rich Heldenfels Published: April 24, 2015

First, no jokes.

Second, when watching Jenner's interview with Diane Sawyer, I thought of the other transgender people interviewed or shown in the program. Though some had a measure of fame, not one of them was going to get two hours of prime time on ABC to talk about their lives, their fears, their changes. Not one of them would have drawn the kind of audience expected for this program, including plenty of people who had not thought about transgender people and issues before this program -- and who might have come away with some understanding because they watched Sawyer and Jenner.

After all, as much as Jenner's story was the reason people would watch, there was an effort to make this about more -- about transgender people generally, about the science and medical work involving them (including comments from Dr. Steven Levine of Beachwood, Ohio). Jenner, it emphasized, is not unique.

I do not want to suggest that the program was thoroughly respectful and thoughtful. Not when Sawyer was asking what song is in Jenner's head, nor when the show is plugging the music done by one of Jenner's sons. Sawyer pressed too much on what Jenner's sex life will be after the transition is complete; Sawyer leaves it to Jenner to remind her of what the show had already said, that your gender and your sex life are different issues. Also unseemly were the endless teases for what Jenner will look like when he has completed transition, deliberate titillation for some viewers -- but which ended only in a display of a Jenner dress, and not what Jenner in it.

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How big is ABC's Bruce Jenner interview? Well ...

By Rich Heldenfels Published: April 24, 2015

These are the network's rules for use of clips from the show, which airs at 9 tonight. I offer them verbatim.

1. Excerpts of no more than ONE MINUTE (1:00) of actualities from “20/20” may be incorporated in your regularly scheduled news programs broadcast within the seven (7) day period commencing at 3:35a.m. ET Saturday, April 25 following the West Coast airing of Nightline.



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Don't pay the ransom, I've escaped ...

By Rich Heldenfels Published: April 24, 2015

I feel compelled to bring up that old punchline from time to time when I have been away from the blog a lot, including lately. It's not that I haven't been writing. But more energy has gone into print/ items, Twitter (@rheldenfels) and Facebook (Rich Heldenfels, Pop Culture Guy) than this space. Still, there are some topics you may find of interest, including:

My look at the "Cleveland Abduction" movie, including interviews with both Taryn Manning (who plays Michelle Knight) and Raymond Cruz (who plays Ariel Castro). You can read that piece here or wait to see it in print in Sunday's Beacon Journal.

Another interview, this time with Mary Murphy, formerly of Canal Fulton and "So You Think You Can Dance," who is now co-hosting "America's Ballroom Challenge," a PBS series beginning tonight. (Check local listings. Even here in Northeast Ohio, telecasts vary.)

As you may have heard, the Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal is dead. This wire story reports that, with my local notes about the impact here. As you may remember, when Comcast and Time Warner planned to merge, the plan included the sale of old Time Warner cable assets here to a third company, Charter. Now it may be that Charter will go directly for TWC (as it tried to do once before) -- or, as this report says, there may be regulatory roadblocks to such a deal, and to a separate deal Charter has made for a different company.

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"Last Tango in Halifax" third season coming

By Rich Heldenfels Published: April 22, 2015

The official word: BBC Worldwide North America Sales & Co-productions and PBS announced today that the critically acclaimed British drama LAST TANGO IN HALIFAX will return for a third season in the U.S., premiering June 28, 2015, at 8:00 p.m. ET on PBS. The six-part series leads into the second episode of the MASTERPIECE romantic drama POLDARK and the second episode of “The Crimson Field,” continuing PBS’ role as the home for drama on Sunday nights.


Written by Sally Wainwright (“Scott & Bailey” “Unforgiven,” “At Home With the Braithwaites”) and directed by Euros Lyn (“Black Mirror,” “Sherlock”) and Jill Robertson (“Law & Order: UK”), LAST TANGO IN HALIFAX tells the story of love-struck septuagenarians Alan (Jacobi) and Celia (Anne Reid) who rediscover their love for each other later in life — 60 years, in fact, after they first met. The heart-warming series, which was rated “utterly charming” by Buzzfeed,was the BBC’s highest-rated new mid-week drama of 2012, regularly attracting more than seven million viewers with its captivating mix of effervescent humor and moving drama. Made by Red Production Company for the BBC, LAST TANGO IN HALIFAX is produced by Karen Lewis, with Nicola Shindler, Sally Wainwright and Matthew Read as the executive producers.


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Yes, a "Full House" sequel series

By Rich Heldenfels Published: April 21, 2015

John Stamos announced this last night, and there's a detailed account of how the show came to be here. And here's all the boilerplate from Netflix:

Candace Cameron-Bure, Jodie Sweetin and Andrea Barber to Star in the Sequel to theIconic Hit Show Full House, with John Stamos Set to Produce and Guest Star;Discussions with Additional Full House Cast Members Ongoing.

Beverly Hills, CA., (April 21, 2015) — Netflix, the world’s leading Internet TV network, has ordered a 13-episode season of a new multi-camera comedy from Warner Horizon Television, Miller-Boyett Productions and Jeff Franklin Productions. Fuller House is the long-awaited sequel to the iconic hit series Full House. Created by original Full House creator Jeff Franklin, Fuller House will premiere exclusively across all Netflix territories in 2016.

Candace Cameron-Bure, Jodie Sweetin and Andrea Barber are set to star in Fuller House, with fellow Full House star John Stamos set to produce and reprise his original role of Uncle Jesse as a guest star in the new show. Discussions with Full House stars Bob Saget, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Dave Coulier and Lori Loughlin regarding guest appearances in Fuller House are ongoing.

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"Jurassic World" trailer: "She's killing for sport"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: April 20, 2015

And, in case you missed, it "Fantastic Four":

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Did John S. Knight kill a story about the Bay of Pigs?

By Rich Heldenfels Published: April 20, 2015

The Miami Herald has a long piece today about a Herald scoop that was then buried before the invasion. CIA director Allen Dulles told reporter David Kraslow that such a story would harm national security. Kraslow relayed that concern to  managing editor George Beebe and executive editor Lee Hills -- and here's what the story says next:

They in turned discussed it with Herald publisher John S. Knight. “I can’t prove it, I’m just guessing, but I’ve always suspected that the minute I left his office, Dulles called Knight and said, ‘Don’t publish that story,’” Kraslow says. “Knight was a big Republican and a very patriotic guy, and I think Dulles probably believed a direct appeal to him would work.”

Whatever exactly happened in Miami, Kraslow got word from Beebe a couple of days later: The story was dead. The Herald wouldn’t run it. Kraslow was disappointed, but not angry. “It was a tough call,” he said. “Those guys — Beebe, Hills, Knight — were all great men and great bosses. It’s very hard to run a story when the director of the CIA tells you it will harm national security. I think the Herald was wrong, I think the Herald made a mistake, but it was a mistake born of good intentions.”

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"Astronaut Wives Club" coming in June

By Rich Heldenfels Published: April 20, 2015

Azure Parsons plays Annie Glenn in the series. The official word: “The Astronaut Wives Club” – A new television drama series based on the book by Lily Koppel, focuses on seven women who were key players behind some of the biggest events in American history. As America’s astronauts were launched on death-defying missions, the lives of their young wives were transformed, seemingly overnight, from military spouses to American royalty. As their celebrity rose, and tragedy began to touch their lives, they rallied together. “The Astronaut Wives Club” premieres THURSDAY, JUNE 18 (8:00–9:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.

“The Astronaut Wives Club” stars JoAnna Garcia Swisher as Betty Grissom; Yvonne Strahovski as Rene Carpenter; Dominique McElligott as Louise Shepard; Odette Annable as Trudy Cooper; Erin Cummings as Marge Slayton; Azure Parsons as Annie Glenn; Zoe Boyle as Jo Schirra; Desmond Harrington as Alan Shepard; Bret Harrison as Gordo Cooper; Wilson Bethel as Scott Carpenter; Kenneth Mitchell as Deke Slayton; Joel Johnstone as Gus Grissom; Sam Reid as John Glenn and Aaron McCusker as Wally Schirra. The first episode was directed by Lone Scherfig, director of the Academy Award®-nominated film “An Education.”

“The Astronaut Wives Club” is executive produced by Stephanie Savage (“Gossip Girl,” “The O.C.”); Josh Schwartz (“The O.C”; “Chuck”); Len Goldstein (“The Carrie Diaries,” “Hart of Dixie”); Michael London (“Milk,” “Appaloosa”) and Janice Williams (“All Good Things,” “The Hollars”).

The series is produced by ABC Studios, Fake Empire and Groundswell and is broadcast in 720 Progressive (720P), ABC’s selected HDTV format with 5.1 channel surround sound. A TV parental guideline will be assigned closer to airdate.

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LeBron-backed "Survivor's Remorse" begins production on second season

By Rich Heldenfels Published: April 16, 2015

The official word:  The STARZ Original series “Survivor’s Remorse” has returned to Atlanta to begin filming the second season of the critically acclaimed half-hour scripted comedy series from LeBron James, Tom Werner, Mike O’Malley, Maverick Carter, Victor Levin, Paul Wachter and Hilton Smith. ...

“Survivor’s Remorse” follows Cam Calloway, played by Jessie T. Usher, a basketball phenom in his early 20’s who is suddenly thrust into the limelight after signing a multi-million dollar contract with a professional basketball team in Atlanta. Cam moves to Georgia with his cousin and confidant Reggie Vaughn, played by RonReaco Lee, to begin the journey to superstardom. The two confront the challenges of carrying needy family members who are along for the ride and their strong ties to the impoverished community where they were raised. Cam, Reggie and an unforgettable group of characters wrestle with the rewards and pitfalls of stardom, love and loyalty.


Returning alongside Usher and Lee are cast members Erica Ash as M-Chuck, the sister of Cam Calloway; Teyonah Parris as Reggie’s wife, Missy; Tichina Arnold (“Martin,” “Everybody Hates Chris”) as Cassie, Cam’s mother; and Mike Epps (“Being Mary Jane,” The Hangover, the Friday franchise) as Cam’s Uncle Julius.

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"American Sniper" DVD/Blu-ray plans

By Rich Heldenfels Published: April 15, 2015

The official word:  From director Clint Eastwood comes “American Sniper,” arriving onto Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and Digital HD on May 19 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment in association with Village Roadshow Pictures, A Mad Chance Production, A 22nd & Indiana Production. “American Sniper” stars Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle, whose skills as a sniper made him a hero on the battlefield. But there was much more to him than his skill as a sharpshooter.


A two-time Oscar® nominee for his work in “Silver Linings Playbook” and “American Hustle,” Cooper stars alongside Sienna Miller, Luke Grimes, Jake McDorman, Cory Hardrict, Kevin Lacz, Navid Negahban and Keir O’Donnell.


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Goodbye, "Justified"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: April 15, 2015

'm feeling very nostalgic about "Justified" today. The finale on Tuesday was just right, although I would love sometime to see a followup about the characters whose futures were left open, especially Loretta but also including Tim and Rachel and Art.

Consider that one preview described the show this way: "A U.S. Marshal (Timothy Olyphant) is reassigned to an office near his hometown in a new drama series." And consider how quickly and richly it proved to be far more.

I admit to being an early fan and one who was still there at the end. Here's what I wrote when it premiered: 

I almost immediately fell under the spell of Justified, an FX series premiering at 10 p.m. Tuesday. But that tends to happen when I see something with Elmore Leonard's name attached.
OK, it didn't happen with Be Cool. But Justified is far better than that misfire, and embraces Elmore's blend of humor, intriguing characters and tangled events that resemble life more than an artificially blended plot.
Justified stars Timothy Olyphant of Deadwood as Raylan Givens, a federal marshal who has appeared several times in Leonard's work, including the short story Fire in the Hole, the basis for the series premiere, and the novels Riding the Rap and Pronto. (James LeGros played Givens in a TV-movie version of Pronto.)
The title refers to a word that pops up a lot in conversation with Givens, especially when the talk involves bad guys Givens has shot. Such shootings are always legally justified to Givens, even if his superiors do not completely agree.
The ambiguity of one such shooting leads to Givens being sent into exile at the marshals' office in Kentucky, which also happens to be Givens' home turf. There is no shortage of bad people in Kentucky, and one of them is a guy Givens knew back when: Boyd Crowder, skillfully played by The Shield's Walton Goggins. It doesn't take long for Givens and Crowder to cross paths. Still, in three episodes made available for preview, they are not on the only path the show wanders down. And Crowder is far from the only person with whom Givens has history.
I like the show for many reasons, from the acting to the dialogue to the way it lets a story unfold like a Leonard novel. That means even the smart people do dumb things, and the dumb people have an excellent chance of getting maimed or killed.
Credit the accomplishments of the series to Graham Yost, who is an executive producer and show-runner as well as writer of the first two episodes and the sixth. (There are 13 scheduled.) He also has gathered other good writers, and solid directors. In fact, Yost is on a roll right now, since in addition to Justified he had a hand in The Pacific, the new World War II miniseries on HBO.
But I talk about The Pacific elsewhere. Here let me say again that Justified will, well, justify your viewing investment.

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Video: Two Guys Talkin' about Percy Sledge and music in politics

By Published: April 15, 2015

We reminisce about Percy Sledge and wonder which candidates will appropriate what music.

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ABC Family summer, fall and jargon plans

By Rich Heldenfels Published: April 14, 2015

The official word: Tom Ascheim, President, ABC Family, will announce at its network upfront today in New York that ABC Family is doubling-down on the life stage that has made it a leading voice in entertainment for W18-34, W18-49, F12-34 and a top five network with adults, in addition to having the most socially engaged audience. The network identified and coined the term ‘Becomers’ to describe people in this life stage. Traditionally, Becomers are in high school, college and the decade that follows and are navigating the wonderful, fun, exciting, and scary time in life when you experience the most firsts – first car, first apartment, first job, first love, first heartbreak – all the firsts that exists between who they are and who they want to become. Becomers are 69 million strong in the US, with an estimated spending power in the trillions. 
“We are renewing our focus on an especially vibrant and important part of the consuming public, whom we have named ‘Becomers,’ and are committing to this life stage rather than to a generation,“ said Ascheim. Becomers are exploring and establishing who they are becoming – personally, professionally and romantically — they live in that magical and messy place between their first kiss and their first kid. We are doubling our commitment to original programming and will serve their modern media habits with gusto by reconceiving our WATCH ABC Family app as a marriage of content and fandom that will make it a vital part of their viewing habit.”
Eleven years ago, ABC Family was ahead of the curve when it began super-serving Millennials to become their entertainment staple. Today, nearly 70% of 12-34 year-olds are Millennials but in five years, Millennials will be less than half of the target. For that reason, ABC Family is cementing itself in the Becomer life stage and will grow its reach by creating more programming with added variety, diversity and quality. Becomers live on the cutting edge of technology – they watch an average of four hours of television and somehow still find another three hours for their mobile devices. To meet their modern media habits, ABC Family is re-imagining the WATCH ABC Family app to put the network in the palm of their hands. On the younger end of these Becomers, they have never experienced content without a smart phone, streaming or social media while on the older end they have been influenced by their exposure to channels and networks. Becomers play a huge role in the businesses of advertisers and influence where people eat, the technology that is used, the places people go and how they get there.
ABC Family will reach the Becomer audience through its linear feed and an updated WATCH ABC Family app, launching this summer with a new look, feel and user experience, making it the ultimate fan destination by driving faster, deeper engagement with the programs our viewers love. Fans can connect with favorite shows, explore featured events and access a comprehensive episode guide that is curated with related content, ranging from photo galleries, behind-the-scenes video and social spotlights from Instagram, Twitter and more. 
Becomers live somewhere in that messy place between their first kiss and their first kid. Somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of Becomers are students, and not surprisingly, eight out of 10 are not married. According to network research, Becomers are universally optimistic on their winding path to adulthood, with 8 out of 10 feeling that the best is yet to come. One of the interesting things about the Becomer life stage is it remains an important memory throughout their lives. This focused brand lens will broaden the networks appeal.
To visually articulate the Becomer life stage on air, the network has moved into a graphic style that is more textured and organic, combined with a color palette of deep, varied hues. The creative philosophy of the brand is to be conversational, immersive, unpredictable, immediate, emotional and fun. ABC Family talent will be showcased in a new brand campaign that presents the stars in a more relatable and less artificial way – it is a ‘selfie’ approach rather than a ‘portrait’ approach. The look and feel aligns ABC Family’s brand essence with Becomers and captures the casual, vital and urgent way young people interact with one another. (Please open hyperlink for an example:
ABC Family also announced that it is breaking ground on a Becomer Insights Group (BIG) to provide more qualitative insight about our consumers. This Becomer Insight Group will conduct proprietary research and will join with other brand partners to become the owners and thought leaders of this intriguing and valuable audience.
Ahead of its largest rollout of original series in the network’s near 14 year history, ABC Family is the #1 ad-supported cable TV network in sales prime time based on advertising currency C3 ratings across Women 18-34 (237,000/0.7 rating), Women 18-49 (393,000/0.6 rating) and Females 12-34 (331,000/0.7 rating) and is a Top 5 ad-supported cable TV network in Adults 18-34 (#2 – 336,000/0.5 rating), Adults 18-49 (#4 – 586,000/0.5 rating) and Viewers 12-34 (#2 – 472,000/0.5 rating).
ABC Family is the only Top 10 cable TV network up season to season in Adults 18-49 (+9% – 586,000 vs. 537,000), Adults 18-34 (+4% – 336,000 vs. 324,000) and Women 18-34 (+1% – 237,000 vs. 234,000).
ABC Family has the most socially engaged audience, triumphant across multiple platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr), ranking as the #1 TV network season to date amassing over 8.5 million average engagements per show, +24% more than #2 AMC (6.9 million) and +63% more than the #1 broadcast network, The CW (5.2 million).
To maintain its position as a leader in providing original, groundbreaking content and deep fan engagement, ABC Family will double the amount of original programming it offers over the next four years. Over recent months, the network has announced the largest programing slate ever in the history of the channel. Anchored by its critically acclaimed original series that have become pop culture phenomena – “Pretty Little Liars,” “Switched at Birth,” “The Fosters,” “Chasing Life,” “Melissa and Joey,” “Baby Daddy” and “Young and Hungry” – the network will expand the amount of serialized dramas, comedies and unscripted fare it offers year round. 
The strategy begins in June with new additions, including the procedural drama “Stitchers” and the unscripted reality drama “Becoming Us.“ “Pretty Little Liars” and “Stitchers” bow first on Tuesday, June 2nd, followed by “Melissa & Joey” and “Baby Daddy” on Wednesday, June 3rd. “The Fosters” and “Becoming Us” will then premiere on Monday, June 8th.  Later this summer the comedy “Kevin From Work” and the reality series “Job or No Job,” “Monica the Medium,” “Startup U” and “Next Step Realty: NYC” will join the line-up.  
McG at Wonderland Sound & Vision (“Charlie’s Angels,” “The O.C.,” “Supernatural,” “Chuck,” and “Kevin From Work”) will direct the first episode of “Shadowhunters” The Mortal Instruments epic saga, based on the best-selling book series by Cassandra Clare.  The series will begin production in May and join the previously announced scripted drama “Recovery Road” when they premiere in early 2016.
ABC Family continues its commitment to tent-pole programming with its ever popular annual holiday events, including “25 Days of Christmas,” “Pop Up Santa,” “13 Nights of Halloween,” and “Fun Day.”
The network added two new pilots, “Gorgeous Morons” and “Beyond,” to its ambitious programming slate and is developing new projects, including “We Heart Disney,” a music spectacular featuring todays biggest pop stars singing classic Disney songs, “Hearts and Clubs” from executive producer and music icon Christina Aguilera; “You’ve Got To Work It” with executive producer Eva Longoria; based on the novel, “Famous In Love” with Bella Thorne and executive produced by I. Marlene King; ABC Signature Studios’ “Sold Out” from Irving Azoff, Andrea Abbate and Todd Holland and “I Am Maker” from World of Wonder and Maker Studios.
For complete descriptions of all the pilots, series, and development projects mentioned, please see below:
“Beyond” is a one-hour drama about a young man who wakes up from a coma after 12 years and discovers new supernatural abilities that propel him into the middle of a dangerous conspiracy. From Imperative Entertainment and Automatik, “Beyond” is created, written and executive produced by Adam Nussdorf (“Once Upon a Time in Wonderland”). Tim Kring (“Heroes”), Zak Kadison, Justin Levy and Brian Kavanaugh-Jones will serve as Executive Producers.
“Gorgeous Morons”
From ABC Signature Studios, “Gorgeous Morons” is a half-hour multi-cam comedy that focuses on two stunningly handsome but ridiculously simple brothers – one is a model, the other a personal trainer – who find their lives rocked by their brainy new roommate, a female literature PhD whose looks are, by their standards, in desperate need of help. “Gorgeous Morons” is co-created and executive produced by Emmy® Award-nominated Lee Eisenberg & Gene Stupnitsky (“The Office,” “Bad Teacher,” “Hello Ladies,” “Trophy Wife”), alongside former “The Office” head writer Danny Chun (“Happy Endings,” “The Office,” “The Simpsons”). Chun is penning the script.
Summer Premieres
In the sixth season of the hit drama series “Pretty Little Liars”, the Liars solve the puzzle and unmask Charles, finally putting an end to the “A” game. “Pretty Little Liars” will premiere on Tuesday, June 2nd at 8:00 – 9:00 PM ET/PT.
ABC Family’s first procedural drama, “Stitchers,” follows Kirsten (Emma Ishta), a young woman recruited into a covert government agency to be ‘stitched’ into the minds of the recently deceased, using their memories to investigate murders and decipher mysteries that otherwise would have gone to the grave. Working alongside Kirsten is Cameron (Kyle Harris), a brilliant neuroscientist whose passion for the program is evident in his work. The secret program is headed by Maggie (Salli Richardson-Whitfield), a skilled veteran of covert operations, and includes Linus (Ritesh Rajan), a socially immature bioelectrical engineer and communications technician. Kirsten’s roommate, Camille (Allison Scagliotti), a gifted computer science grad student, is also recruited to use her skills to assist Kirsten in her new role as a ‘stitcher.’ Created and written by Jeffrey A. Schechter (“Overruled!”), who will executive produce alongside Jonathan Baruch and Rob Wolken, “Stitchers” stars newcomer Emma Ishta as Kirsten, Kyle Harris (“Carrie Diaries”) as Cameron, Ritesh Rajan (upcoming “Jungle Book” feature) as Linus, Salli Richardson-Whitfield (“Eureka,” “I Am Legend”) as Maggie, and Allison Scagliotti (“Warehouse 13”) as Camille.  Todd Holland (“The Larry Sanders Show,” “Malcolm in the Middle”) will direct the premiere episode. ”Stitchers” will premiere on Tuesday, June 2nd at 9:00 – 10:00 PM ET/PT.
“Melissa & Joey” picks up where the first half of the season left off, with newlyweds Mel (Melissa Joan Hart) and Joe (Joey Lawrence) waiting to find out if she’s pregnant. Meanwhile, Ryder (Nick Robinson) announces he’s joining the Navy and Lennox (Taylor Spreitler) struggles with her feelings while working on a short film with her ex-boyfriend Zander (recurring guest star Sterling Knight). “Melissa & Joey” will premiere on Wednesday, June 3rd at 8:00 – 8:30 PM ET/PT.
In the summer premiere of “Baby Daddy,” Riley can’t face the mess she has made out of her relationships with Ben and Danny, so she runs home to her mom’s (Alex Kapp Horner) house in Jersey to hide from her problems. Once Ben realizes where Riley has gone, he stages a “friendervention” to get her to come home, but will Riley and Danny be able to move past their hurt feelings? Bonnie is thrilled when their next door neighbor, Evelyn, dies and plots to get the apartment listing. Once she discovers that Evelyn’s granddaughter Ashley (Lindsey Gort) is a big Danny Wheeler fan and knows all his hockey stats, Bonnie tries to trade her son for the listing, despite the fact that Danny is still dating Robyn (Christa B. Allen). Meanwhile, Tucker is determined to get his hands on the items Evelyn promised him. Eddie Cibrian (“The Playboy Club”) and country superstar Reba McEntire also guest star later this season. “Baby Daddy” will premiere on Wednesday, June 3rd at 8:30 – 9:00 PM ET/PT.
Now in its third season, the critically-acclaimed drama “The Fosters” picks up during summer, a few weeks after the cliffhanger finale left off, as the family deals with the aftermath of the terrible car accident involving Mariana, Jesus and their pregnant biological mother Ana. Now that Callie is back at the Adams Foster’s home, she is feeling secure for the first time in a long time and determined to have a summer of free-spirited fun, including trying her best to get over Brandon. Meanwhile, Brandon is going to Idyllwild Music Program where he will be faced with serious competition. Jude and Connor continue to develop their relationship and what it means to be a young teen exploring new love. Stef and Lena continue to face challenges as a couple and as parents, yet are determined to fight through them together. “The Fosters” will premiere on Monday, June 8th at 8:00 – 9:00 PM ET/PT.
The groundbreaking new unscripted drama series “Becoming Us” (formerly known as “My Transparent Life”) centers on a teenager named Ben who is learning to live with his dad becoming a woman. The series will follow Ben, his family and his friends as they support one another through this unexpected journey and navigate their new world with Charlie now living as Carly. The show is a generational story of a loving family and circle of friends supporting one another through this unfamiliar situation. “Becoming Us” will premiere on Monday, June 8th at 9:00 – 10:00 PM ET/PT.
Series Premieres Coming Later This Summer
“Monica the Medium” is a fascinating look at Monica, a junior at Penn State navigating friends, family, relationships – and the fact that she’s a medium and can talk to dead people. Her uncommon vocation provides an endless supply of emotional and engaging stories, with a unique millennial perspective. The show is produced by Dave Caplan’s Trooper Entertainment in association with Lionsgate TV. Caplan will serve as executive producer alongside Malachi McGlone.
“Job or No Job” is an unscripted series from the producers of “Undercover Boss” that follows one young adult per episode on his/her journey to land a first job. Each job seeker will go on three interviews, and we will watch the intense ride to find out if he or she lands three, two, one – or zero offers. The series is produced by Studio Lambert/All3Media America. Stephen Lambert, Eli Holzman, Greg Goldman and Sara Quick serve as executive producers.
From Lincoln Square Productions, comes “Next Step Realty: NYC,” a business based docu-series following the passionate and ambitious employees of Next Step Realty. The Manhattan-based real estate firm specializes in helping recent college graduates find their apartments in New York City while navigating interpersonal and professional conflicts in the workplace. Danielle Rossen (“What Would You Do?”) serves as the executive producer.
“Kevin from Work,” a half-hour workplace comedy, centers on Kevin, a young man who declares his unrequited love for his coworker Audrey in a letter, believing he’ll never see her again after he accepts a job overseas. But when the opportunity falls through and Kevin is forced to return to his old job, how will he and Audrey continue to work together now that his feelings are no longer secret? The series is written, created and executive-produced by Barbie Adler (“How I Met Your Mother,”). Aaron Kaplan at Kapital Entertainment (“Chasing Life”) and McG at Wonderland Sound & Vision (“Charlie’s Angels”) serve as Executive Producers. The comedy stars Noah Reid (“Backpackers“) as Kevin, Paige Spara as Audrey, Matt Murray (“Rookie Blue”) as Brian, Jordan Hinson (“Eureka”) as Roxie, Punam Patel as Patti, with guest star Amy Sedaris (“Strangers with Candy”) as Julia.
“Startup U” is an unscripted, one-hour series from the producers of “House of Food” that follows a group of entrepreneurial millennials as they embark on a semester at Draper University in Silicon Valley. Led by billionaire founder and venture capitalist Tim Draper, the seven-week program teaches the fundamentals of launching a startup company under the mentorship of America’s business leaders. In the end, students pitch their ideas to a panel of hungry venture capitalists with the hope that they’ll receive a life-changing investment to launch their business. To date, more than 150 Draper graduates have received funding totaling more than $15 million from mogul investors and Tim Draper himself. Brimming with innovation and determination, “Startup U” pulls back the curtain on what it takes to achieve success in the most innovative and competitive marketplace in the world. Viewers join a group of savvy millennials as they suffer through hard lessons and grab opportunities with both hands, all in the pursuit of their dreams. “Startup U” is produced by Ugly Brother Studios, a Sky Vision partner. Mike Duffy, Tim Duffy and Tim Draper serve as executive producers.
Returning Series Coming Later This Summer
“Young & Hungry” returns with more episodes with Gabi continuing to cook up drama and laughs in Josh’s kitchen and his life! Josh rolls out his biggest app yet; Elliot revels in the state of his love life; and Yolanda gets even closer to Gabi and Sofia. “Pretty Little Liars” star Keegan Allen guest stars in one episode as Tyler. 
Starting moments after Leo’s surprising marriage proposal, season two of “Chasing Life” will find April trying to live life to the fullest despite of her recent relapse. From wedding dress shopping to a surprise trip, and a bachelorette party ending in jail time, April is determined to enjoy everything. Meanwhile, the rest of the Carver family must deal with the effects of April’s illness and choices as the medical bills start to mount up and questions arise about the surprising engagement.
In the fourth season of “Switched at Birth,” Bay continues to deal with the fall-out of her assault and her break-up with Emmett, and Daphne struggles to find a balance between college and a new love. The Kennish family is rocked by news of an unexpected pregnancy.
Programming Coming in Early 2016
Based on the bestselling young adult fantasy book series The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare, “Shadowhunters” follows 18-year-old Clary Fray, who finds out on her birthday that she is not who she thinks she is but rather comes from a long line of Shadowhunters – human-angel hybrids who hunt down demons. When her mother Jocelyn is kidnapped, Clary is thrown into the world of demon hunting with mysterious Shadowhunter Jace and her best friend, Simon. Now living among faeries, warlocks, vampires and werewolves, Clary begins a journey of self-discovery as she learns more about her past and what her future may hold. McG, who serves as executive producer, will also direct the first episode.
“Recovery Road,” based on the popular young adult novel by Blake Nelson, focuses on a teenage girl dealing with addiction. Maddie (Jessica Sula, UK’s “Skins”) has a reputation as a party girl who doesn’t think she has a problem, until she’s confronted one day by her school guidance counselor (Alexis Carra) and is forced to choose between expulsion and rehab. Maddie makes the difficult decision to live with other recovering addicts at a sober living facility while facing the daily pressures of her teenage life. Sebastian De Souza, Kyla Pratt, Sharon Leal, Daniel Franzese and David Witts also star.
Development Projects
“Hearts and Clubs” (Working title)
There are glamor, thrills and broken hearts around every corner in the alluring city of Las Vegas. Executive producer and music icon Christina Aguilera brings all that to life in an addicting new drama series “Hearts and Clubs.” The show celebrates the intersecting lives of young performers as they chase their dreams and fight off their demons in the always-unpredictable Sin City. With an incredible soundtrack, this series will capture the pulse of Las Vegas where everyone craves acceptance, yet no one ever really fits in. Along with Aguilera, the one-hour drama comes from Austin Winsberg (“Gossip Girl”), Matthew Rutler, Prospect Park and Lionsgate TV.
“Famous In Love” (Working title)
Based on the novel by Rebecca Serle, “Famous In Love” follows ordinary college student Paige as she gets her big break after auditioning for the starring role in a Hollywood blockbuster. She must now navigate her new star-studded life and undeniable chemistry with her two co-leads while uncovering the truth about what happened to a famous missing popstar. Bella Thorne (“The Duff”) will star as Paige. The pilot is executive produced by I. Marlene King (“Pretty Little Liars”) and Warner Horizon TV.
“Sold Out” (Working title)
The ensemble scripted comedy from ABC Signature Studios, “Sold Out” is about a young band hitting the road for their first-ever tour. Turns out living the dream can sometimes be a nightmare – but it’s sure funny to watch. The project will be written by Andrea Abbate and is executive produced by Irving Azoff and will be directed by Todd Holland.
“I Am Maker” (Working title)
Emmy® Award-winning producers World Of Wonder will team with Maker Studios to share an unprecedented look at what it takes to become a successful You Tube star today. Inspired by the true roots of Maker Studios, “I Am Maker” is an aspirational docu-series that follows a group of up-and-coming YouTube sensations who will live together and be mentored by the biggest Maker talent endeavoring to connect their authentic voices with a huge audience.   
“You’ve Got To Work It” (Working title)
From Eva Longoria and ITV studios, this successful UK format comes to the US market. “You’ve Got To Work It” follows eight unemployed girls from diverse backgrounds who get a crash course in the working world – vying for seven job opportunities in seven very different industries. The girls will also have complete head-to-toe and emotional makeovers with the hope they change their ways, step up to the plate, and land a coveted job to kick start their career.
“We Heart Disney” (Working Title)
ABC Family presents the “We Heart Disney” music spectacular featuring some of today’s biggest pop stars singing classic Disney songs. David Foster and Nigel Lythgoe (“American Idol”) will serve as executive producers.
Part of the Disney/ABC Television Group, ABC Family is distributed in 94 million homes. ABC Family entertains and connects to audiences with bold, relatable programming that celebrates the epic adventure of becoming an adult, from first kiss to first kid. ABC Family’s programming is a combination of network-defining original series and original movies, quality acquired series and blockbuster theatricals. “WATCH ABC Family” is an authenticated service which allows viewers with participating TV subscription services access to 24/7 live viewing of the network, as well as continued on-demand access to such popular series at home and on-the-go via a wide array of devices. ABC Family is also the destination for annual holiday events with "13 Nights of Halloween" and "25 Days of Christmas."
Press materials are available at
ABC Family Media Relations: Jori Arancio, 310/739-3799 or 818/973-2167

NTI, U.S. Ratings. 2014/15 C3 ratings season to date: 9/29/14-3/1/15, M-Su., 6:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.; 2013/14 equivalent: 9/30/13-3/2/14. Social Media: ListenFirst Media, based on average engagements per show, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr, Oct 14 through Feb 15.
Becomers (age 14-29) are 69 million strong, in the US –  per US Census

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David Letterman begins farewell countdown with guest lineup for last 28 shows

By Rich Heldenfels Published: April 13, 2015

The official word: David Letterman, the longest-running host in late night history at 33 years, will begin his final 28 broadcasts of the LATE SHOW tonight, with a star-studded lineup of entertainment guests making their final appearances with him. As previously announced, his final LATE SHOW broadcast is Wednesday, May 20 (11:35 PM-12:37 AM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.


            Some of the biggest names in entertainment will make their final appearances with Letterman over the next six weeks, including George Clooney, Robert Downey, Jr., Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Tom Hanks, Jack Hanna, Scarlett Johansson, Michael Keaton, Steve Martin, Bill Murray, Sarah Jessica Parker, Don Rickles, Julia Roberts, Ray Romano, Paul Rudd, Jerry Seinfeld, Martin Short, Howard Stern, John Travolta, Bruce Willis, Oprah Winfrey, The Avett Brothers and Brandi Carlile, Elvis Costello, Dave Matthews Band, Emmylou Harris, Norah Jones, Mumford and Sons, Ralph Stanley and Amos Lee, and many more names to be announced in the coming weeks.


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Two guys talkin': Rough week in celebrity deaths including James Best, Stan Freberg and more

By Deanna Stevens Published: April 9, 2015

Beacon Journal pop culture writer Rich Heldenfels and pop music writer Malcolm X Abram break down the recent deaths of celebrities like James Best, Milton Delugg, Geoffrey Lewis and Stan Freberg.

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ABC summer plans, including "Mistresses," "Rookie Blue," "Bachelorette," new "Battlebots," more

By Rich Heldenfels Published: April 8, 2015

The official word:

ABC announced its summer lineup, with four new series joining the schedule: “500 Questions” on Wednesday, May 20 at 8:00 p.m.; “The Whispers” on Monday, June 1 at 10:01 p.m. and “Celebrity Family Feud” on Sunday, June 21 at 8:00 p.m., followed by “BattleBots” on Sunday, June 21 at 9:00 p.m. on the ABC Television Network.


These series join returning shows “The Bachelorette,” which premieres Monday, May 18 at 9:00 p.m.; “Celebrity Wife Swap” on Wednesday, May 20 at 10:00 p.m.; “Extreme Weight Loss” on Tuesday, May 26 at 9:00 p.m.; “Mistresses,” with a special two-hour premiere on Thursday, June 18 at 9:00 p.m.; “Rookie Blue” on Thursday, June 25 at 10:00 p.m.; and a two-night premiere of “Bachelor in Paradise” on Sunday, August 2 at 8:00 p.m. and on Monday, August 3 at 8:00 p.m.

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FX announces its summer premieres: "Tyrant" 6/16, new Denis Leary 7/16, more

By Rich Heldenfels Published: April 8, 2015

The official word: FX is turning up the heat this summer with the series premiere of Denis Leary’s new comedy Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll, the second seasons of the award-winning thriller The Strain, the tense political and familial drama Tyrant and the comedy series Married, and the television premiere of Louis C.K.’s latest standup special Louis C.K.: Live From the Comedy Store, it was announced today by Chuck Saftler, President of Program Strategy and COO, FX Networks. Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll marks Leary’s return to FX after starring for seven seasons on the Emmy® and Golden Globe® winning Rescue Me.


FX Summer Premieres and Highlights


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USA Network summer plans: 2 new series, returns of "Royal Pains," "Suits," "Graceland," "Chrisley"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: April 7, 2015

The official word: USA Network will roll out one of its largest slates of summer premieres ever, with a total of five original dramas, two reality series and one comedy.

USA’s summer schedule features two new original dramas, including the award-winning MR. ROBOT on Wednesday, June 24 at 10/9C. This intense hacker drama, from creator Sam Esmail, recently won the SXSW Audience Award and is an official selection of the Tribeca Film Festival. The series stars Rami Malek (“The Pacific”) and Christian Slater (“The Adderall Diaries”).

Matt Nix, the brilliant creator of USA’s “Burn Notice,” returns to the network this summer as the creator and executive producer of COMPLICATIONS, an unpredictable thriller starring Jason O’Mara (“Terra Nova”) and Jessica Szohr (“Gossip Girl”). The series premieres with a two-hour event, featuring new back-to-back one-hour episodes on Thursday, June 18 at 9/8c.

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Rich and the movies: 'Furious 7'

By Published: April 3, 2015

Furious 7 is absurd and utterly melodramatic and just what you want in another Fast and Furious movie. Beacon Journal pop culture writer Rich Heldenfels says it might not be as good as the sixth movie in the series, but it's still worth seeing and hopefully we get more.

Click here to read a full review of the movie.

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Remember "Science Fiction Theatre"?

By Rich Heldenfels Published: April 2, 2015

I sure do. I so liked it as a kid, I'm afraid seeing it now would disappoint. But so, so curious about the new DVD. The official word:

“Let me show you something interesting…” Timeless Media Group presents all 78 episodes of the groundbreaking Science Fiction Theatre in a 9-DVD box set on May 12, 2015. Presented for the first time on DVD, this complete series collection of Science Fiction Theatre is an entertaining look back-and-forward- to the way science shapes our views of the world’s potential.

Blending the discoveries of factual science with the limitless frontiers of fantasy, Science Fiction Theatre offered Atomic Age television viewers an intriguing look at the possibilities science could provide us in the near future as well as the immediate present. Airing from 1955 to 1957 and hosted by Truman Bradley, Science Fiction Theatre’s seventy-eight episodes presented its intelligent and fantastic stories in an anthology format, pre-dating The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits.

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Netflix orders Bob Odenkirk/David Cross sketch-comedy series

By Rich Heldenfels Published: April 2, 2015

The "Mr. Show" team is back. The official word:

Netflix has ordered the sketch comedy show, With Bob and David, 4-half-hour episodes and one 60-minute “making-of” special from Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul) and David Cross (Arrested Development).

After being dishonorably discharged from the Navy Seals, Bob and David are back serving our country the way they do best, making sketch comedy. Four half-hours of brand new comedy featuring all new characters, all new scenes, and most importantly, all new wigs.

Odenkirk and Cross are writing and starring in the series, and also serve as executive producers along with Marc Provissiero, Naomi Odenkirk,Tim Sarkes, Dave Kneebone Tim Heidecker, and Eric Wareheim.

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