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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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Fox’s Chase Carey on Time Warner: ‘We’ve Moved On’

Chase Carey GChase Carey, president and COO of 21st Century Fox, wants everyone to know that his company is already healing from the heartbreak of not acquiring Time Warner. “We’ve moved on,” Carey said, during a London TV industry conference. “We don’t want to be revisiting something that is in the past or implying that we are continuing to be engaged.”

Carey and 21st Century Fox had tried to purchase Time Warner for $80 billion last month, but the offer was rejected. At the time, Rupert Murdoch put the blame squarely on Time Warner’s shoulders. “Time Warner management and its Board refused to engage with us to explore an offer which was highly compelling,” he explained.

According to Variety, Carey added that for now, at least, there are no other companies worth pursuing. “We don’t have an acquisition list,” he said. “Time Warner was a unique opportunity for us.” Hey, buck up buddy. There’s other media companies in the sea.

Joe Scarborough Joining Meet The Press

Joe Scarborough GNBC News has announced that Joe Scarborough is joining Meet The Press as a senior political analyst and contributor. As part of the move, Scarborough will appear in a variety of NBC News programs, including the Today show.

“Joe has one of the best political minds in the NBC family,” said recently appointed Meet The Press moderator Chuck Todd, in a statement. “His love of politics and passion for debate will guarantee the kind of robust conversation that has always been a hallmark of Meet the Press, and I look forward to the reported analysis he’ll bring to the table.”

Despite the new duties, Scarborough will continue to host Morning Joe, a role he has held since 2007.

NBC Pays for Matt Lauer’s Helicopter Commute

How was your commute to work this morning? Was the train packed? Did various strangers emit odd odors? Did anyone yell about Jesus? If you’re like most people, you probably answered “Shitty, yes, one guy smelled like a rotten ham sandwich, of course.” However, if you’re Matt Lauer, you had a completely different set of answers, because you flew via a helicopter paid for by NBC.

According to The New York Post, as part of Lauer’s recent contract extension, NBC pays for him to fly back and forth from his home in the Hamptons.

“NBC News chiefs want to do everything to keep Matt happy,” a source told the Post. “They believe Today has turned a corner and he is the key to its continuing success. They agreed to pay for his helicopter flights to the Hamptons and back, so he can spend more time with his family.”

Please think of this tomorrow morning when you’re elbowing someone too immersed in their Metro to get out of your way. We bet it’ll give you some extra oomph.

[Image: Rena Schild/Shutterstock.com]

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