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Channel Surfing

Clive Davis Spices Up Nightline

The lede adorning Cynthia McFadden’s companion Web piece for her Nightline interview says it all: “Clive Davis is a force of nature.” Indeed, and still going strong at age 80.

As part of the publicity outreach for his new autobiography The Soundtrack of My Life, written with Anthony DeCurtis and out today, Davis spoke to McFadden from various locations, including his famed bungalow HQ on the grounds of the Beverly Hills Hotel. He is extremely frank, in the interview and book’s last chapter, about his intimate relationships with both men and women.

NBCLA Expands Weekend Newscasts

We’ve been hearing the whispers, and this week, NBC Southern California has made it official. Building on the ratings success of the station’s weekend newscasts, the Burbank-based affiliate is adding 5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday installments and expanding its existing Sunday 11 p.m. report to a full hour.

The anchor team of Robert Kovacik and Kathy Vara, who currently co-anchor the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. weekend newscasts, will also co-anchor “NBC4 News at 5PM” on the weekends. From the announcement:

“The expansion of our newscasts give us a chance to tell more stories and cover events that happen on weekends,” said vice president of news Todd Mokhtari. “The added time slots give our viewers more options for getting breaking news, local information and weather all weekend long.”

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Matt Damon Finally Turns the Tables on Jimmy Kimmel

For several years, it’s been the greatest running gag on late night talk TV: Jimmy Kimmel ending a show with the disclaimer, “Apologies to Matt Damon; we ran out of time.” Last night on Jimmy Kimmel Live, the double-punchline to that bit was finally delivered by Damon. In spades.

With a duct-taped Jimmy in the background, Damon at one point during his commando-host appearance gleefully revealed that Kimmel is a bitter, jealous soul who has auditioned for every one of the actor’s film roles:

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Where Do The Young Turks Go from Here?

As The Young Turks‘ tireless host Cenk Uygur reminded this week in the aftermath of the acquisition of Current TV by Al Jazeera, a key portion of the enterprise is not part of the deal. The separate online half of the weekday political analysis program is independently produced and contracted, free to move on to greener Internet pastures in the second quarter of 2012 once the Current run comes to an official end.

Which begs the questions: Where might the TYT Network wind up? And what kind of future does the TV incarnation have? With Jeff Zucker jumping into the CNN executive suite and people like Jake Tapper joining that network’s correspondent ranks, perhaps the online version of TYT could somehow fit into a remolded version of the Atlanta cable giant’s website.

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Showtime CEO Talks to Bloomberg Television About the Huge Impact of Homeland

It was four, five years ago that Showtime CEO Matt Blank saw the writing on the wall. In a fascinating interview with Bloomberg TV’s Deirdre Bolton, he notes that the prices for movie broadcast rights from certain Hollywood studios were becoming prohibitive at the time and led him, to the outcry of naysayers, to redirect that money into the development of original programming.

 

Today, Showtime is sitting pretty with the most decorated and buzzed about drama on TV, Homeland. It’s the show that, as Blank puts it, “people stop me on the street and want to talk about.”

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LA Kings Hall of Famer Dovetails to Disney’s Phineas & Ferb

If you had told LA Kings fans last spring that the closest thing to some early December weekend entertainment involving their team would be on the Disney Channel, they would have laughed you right out of Staples. But with the 2011-12 Stanley Cup champions still locked out of any chance to repeat, tonight’s appearance by president of business operations Luc Robitaille on the season premiere of Phineas & Ferb is as good as it gets.

Robitaille plays himself in an episode titled “For Your Ice Only.” He tells nhl.com that he was not familiar with the hugely popular animated show and that this whole thing in fact was the idea of a team colleague:

Robitaille agreed to do it at the urging of his assistant, Kehly Sloane, whose son is a big fan… “When we started planning a hockey-themed episode, we knew we wanted to include a real legend of the sport. Luc just seemed like a natural choice,” said Dan Povenmire, co-creator and executive producer. “I’d heard him several times on the radio and knew he was funny as well. [We're] very glad he said yes.”

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Southwestern College Prof Doubles as Mayan Doomsday Expert

No doubt about it; the next three weeks are going to be a busy extra-curricular time for Dr. Mark Van Stone, a Maya expert, author and professor of art history at Chula Vista’s Southwestern College. As a go-to expert on the topic of the world possibly ending December 21, he is set to make a number of radio-TV appearances like this one Monday night for San Diego’s ABC-TV affiliate:

The key soundbyte from Van Stone in the report above is his reminder that the Roland Emmerich world view is based on anything but an accurate hieroglyphic read:

“It’s gotten so out of hand because we live in a world that loves the end of the world,” explained Van Stone. “The Maya did not predict an end to the world or the calendar on December 21st, 2012, but they did predict things would go on for thousands of years after 2012.”

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FishbowlLA Set Visit: SoCal Connected

The views from the fifth and sixth floors of KCET’s glass-encased offices at The Pointe in Burbank are spectacular, offering panoramic vistas of next-door neighbors NBC LA, St. Joseph’s Hospital, Forest Lawn in the southern distance and more. Another big difference from the station’s previous red-brick HQ on Sunset Boulevard is that employees are now ensconced in an open-cubicle set-up as sleek as that of a Madison Avenue ad agency.

But these are not the only reasons for the renewed sense of excitement at KCET. Thanks to the expansion of SoCal Connected to four nights a week, the addition of Madeleine Brand to the show’s talent ranks, a recent merger with San Francisco’s Link Media and the resulting imminent arrival of new chief strategy officer Paul Mason, this viewer-supported TV station is very clearly and boldly trying to re-invent the jettisoned PBS model.

SoCal Connected shoots two shows on Monday and another two on Wednesday, with a repeat broadcast Fridays. As FishbowlLA sat at the back of the control room yesterday watching the production of tonight’s November 29 broadcast, we were reminded of that scene in Broadcast News where William Hurt’s character shows nervous newbie Albert Brooks how to properly sit on a sports jacket. TV news is all about the smallest of details.

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Animal Rescue Activist Thwarted by KTLA’s ‘Anti-Pit Bull Policy’*

Here’s a strange story courtesy of examiner.com animal advocacy correspondent Penny Tilton.* According to her report, Shannon Keith, president of LA non-profit Animal Rescue, Media & Education (ARME), ran into trouble Monday with the folks at KTLA Morning News when she showed up with a pit bull for a scheduled on-air segment about animal adoption. It may seem well within the station’s rights to tell a guest that only the (other) non-pit bull dog could be admitted into the studio. But Keith argues it’s against the law and is now asking people to send in protest emails and boycott the program:

Prior to the show, ARME disclosed a full description of the dogs to be aired. “When we arrived, one of the show producers came out, looked at Franklyn and said, “Oh no. We have an anti-pit bull policy,” Keith said. “I calmly told her that we were not informed of this, and had we been, we would have cancelled our appearance as breed discrimination is not something I tolerate, and more so, is against public policy.”

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FishbowlLA Set Visit: The Young Turks

Watching yesterday from the second floor Culver City control room as The Young Turks’ tireless host Cenk Uygur conducted a split-screen interview about – what else – contentious DC politics, FishbowlLA marveled at the talent everyone there talks about. His ability to do an entire, fast-paced current affairs program without benefit of a teleprompter.

“I’ve worked over the years with Matt Lauer, Katie Couric, Chris Matthews…” raved senior producer Roland Woerner. “I’ve never seen anyone with the ability to do a program like this without a teleprompter.”

The same goes for Uygur’s control-room brain trust. When a host and program run off a teleprompter, all sorts of cues can be “tagged in,” to help coordinate when to throw to a graphic, guest, specific camera shot and so on. With Uygur, there is no such safety net; the resulting flow, presided over with a masterful, arms-wide touch by director Genji Keen, is infectious. TYT’s ultra-modern and even-tempered operation is the kind of 21st century outlet many unemployed journalists would kill to be able to work for.

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