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Letterman Cue-Card Holder Details Sudden, Sorry Exit

On Thursday, October 9, long-time Late Show cue-card holder Tony Mendez grabbed writer Bill Scheft by the shirt collar at the beginning of the work day. He was immediately expelled from the premises and on Monday, October 13, informed by executive producer Rob Burnett that he had been terminated.

On Friday, October 17, Sheft returned to the Ed Sullivan Theater, telling co-workers he is suffering from PST, and today, thanks to the New York Post‘s Gary Buiso, everyone is talking about this. In an interview that is remarkably candid and perhaps a little foolish, given the fact that Mendez could face legal action from 57-year-old Scheft, the 69-year-old ex-employee talks about everything. How his relationship with Scheft was, for a long time, fractious. And how he had carved out a unique way of communicating with the boss:

On Wednesday, October 8, the three [Mendez, Scheft, Letterman] were rehearsing in Letterman’s backstage digs when Mendez said he reacted to one of Scheft’s interruptions, telling him, “I know what I’m doing. Get off my back.”

But suddenly Letterman growled, “Tony, your sour disposition isn’t helping,” Mendez recalled.

“‘You’re the one who has the sour disposition, motherf–ker,’” Mendez snapped back.

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Personal Essay Writing: Master Class

Personal Essay Writing: Master ClassStarting October 21, work with the senior editor at Marie Claire magazine to polish and publish your essay! Whitney Joiner will help you to develop your voice, narrative, and identity, draft your pitch, and decide where to market your essay. Register now!

Sting Retools ‘Message in a Bottle’

It’s been a stellar week for Jimmy Fallon musical bits. On Wednesday, he took a break from show prep to engage in a “Breakdance Conversation” with Brad Pitt. And on last night’s telecast, he ran Sting through some fun-fun Smartphone business.

StingJimmyFallon

The first half of the Sting shtick, wherein Fallon gets Mr. Sumner to sing versions of three familiar ringtones, is cool. Especially when the ringtone sounds suspiciously like an old copyrighted Police song. But where this bit really soared is towards the end (starting at the three-minute mark), when the host enlists the superstar to record an audience member’s mobile phone outgoing voicemail message.

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WNBC’s Chuck Scarborough is a ‘Giant of Broadcasting’

We attended the 12th Annual Giants of Broadcasting luncheon in New York City today where prominent members of the broadcasting, media and corporate communities honored leaders of TV and radio. Chuck Scarborough longtime main anchor at WNBC’s was honored and jokingly thanked NBC for “not firing me.” Scarborough joined WNBC in 1974 and has won 31 Emmy Awards in his storied career. Other honorees included former ABC, NBC and CBS executive Fred Silverman and Regis Philbin, who couldn’t attend due to a scheduling conflict, so his former “LIVE” co-host Kathie Lee Gifford accepted on his behalf. 170 Giants of Broadcasting have been honored since 2003, including Barbara Walters, Charlie Rose, Bob Schieffer, Brian Williams, Tim Russert and Ken Burns. TVNewser has more on today’s event.

HBO to Launch Stand-Alone Streaming Service

hboAfter years of watching Netflix gain popularity, HBO has finally decided to fight fire with fire. The network has announced it’s launching a stand-alone streaming service next year.

“We will work with our current partners,” HBO’s CEO Richard Plepler said, in a statement. “And, we will explore models with new partners.  All in, there are 80 million homes that do not have HBO and we will use all means at our disposal to go after them.”

Plepler didn’t give many details about the service. Instead, he described it as “over-the-top” and insisted “It is time to remove all barriers to those who want HBO.”

The man is a goddamn hero.

Brooklyn Blogger Competes on Sports Jeopardy!

AlexDeFrankPicIn the middle of the contestants’ panel for Episode #2 of Sports Jeopardy! is nascent Brooklyn sports blogger Alex DeFrank. Following each episode’s TV airing, the competitions are posted to Crackle on Wednesdays.

DeFrank’s patter-portion with host Dan Patrick addressed an age-old cliche about bloggers:

“Here’s the problem with sports bloggers,” suggested Patrick. “Everybody says you’re guys in your underwear, in the basement. True?”

“I thought you said there was a problem?” DeFrank joked back.

“I’m jealous!” exclaimed Patrick.

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An SNL Writer’s Trick of the Trade: ‘KENAN REACTS’

KenanThompsonSNLIn some ways, social media has rendered Saturday Night Live bulletproof as it heads into its 40th anniversary season. Sketches that misfire and hosts who bomb typically now power a social discussion that is as robust as when everything clicks.

But there will be plenty of time for that soon. In the meantime, we have been enjoying Slate’s delivery of show writers talking about specific cast members. Today, in installment #2, co-head writer Bryan Tucker zeros in on Kenan Thompson:

Here’s a secret. If you’re a Saturday Night Live writer, and you want to get an extra laugh in your script, just add this line: “KENAN REACTS.” Sure, it’s sort of cheating. But we still do it sometimes. Because it works.

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Dan Rather Leaves ‘Lucille’ Alone

“I couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket with a lid on it.”

That’s what Dan Rather told Kenny Rogers, the subject of his latest AXS-TV The Big Interview, when the two recently got together at the Country Music Hall of Fame. In this YouTube bonus moment, the singer launches into a few verses of “Lucille” before inviting the newsman to give it a try.

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Vogue Article Inspires Eva Longoria-Produced TV Show

vogue-logo-editEva Longoria’s production company — UnbeliEVAble Entertainment (yes, it’s really called that) — is joining forces with Condé Nast Entertainment to bring a political drama to ABC. The show was inspired by a Jacob Weisberg Vogue article, which profiled twins Julián and Joaquin Castro.

The yet-to-be-named project will follow the lives of Chris and Alex Reyes, two “Latino golden boys” who are best friends, yet political rivals. “The drama explores the American dream and the lies, blackmail and manipulation it takes to rise to the top of power in Texas — and perhaps someday DC,” reports Deadline.

Lies! Blackmail! Manipulation! Golden boys! Please inform your parents about this news.

Lorne Michaels Engineers Another Inspired Succession

ShutterstockDarrellHammondHarlem2012The choice of Jimmy Fallon to take over for Jay Leno will rank as one of the best decisions comedy impresario Lorne Michaels has ever made. As if that weren’t enough for the current calendar year, there is now news of an equally inspired move in the SNL announcer department.

Taking over in this 40th season of SNL for the late Don Pardo will be Darrell Hammond. From Andrea Romano‘s Mashable item:

Hammond, who was a cast member from 1995 to 2009, also occasionally sat in for Pardo when he was sick.

“I sat in for Don when he had laryngitis several times over the years,” Hammond told USA Today. “When he passed, they wanted me; it felt right for me to be the one to replace him.”

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Vulture Circles Debra Messing’s Off-Target Show

The headline for Margaret Lyons‘ Vulture review is emphatic: “Mysteries of Laura Is a Bad Show. It’s a Bad, Bad Show.” And as you might expect, the article below that headline is a rad read. It’s a rad, rad read.

TheMysteriesofLaura

Starting with some astute bricks-and-mortar fact-checking:

Messing stars as Laura, a miserable human who abuses her police power by intimidating random pre-school teachers. She loves product-placing Target, and even though she lives in Manhattan, it seems very, very unlikely that she lives anywhere near Harlem or 117th Street. I resent integrated advertising in general, but it’s truly egregious here.

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