Super-publicist Peggy Siegal is turning 62 today. David Hasselhoff turns 57. Donald Sutherland is 74. Producer Mark Burnett is 49. Phyllis Diller is 92. Defense attorney Peter Neufeld is turning turns 59. Linda Gibbs, the Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services, is turning 50 today. Comedian Beth Littleford is 41. View producer Bill Geddie is turning 54. Lucie Arnaz, the daughter of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, is 58. Author and blogger Cory Doctorow is 38. And old-time TV host Art Linkletter turns 97 today. A list of people with birthdays this weekend—including Chace Crawford, Ian Schrager, and Steve Forbes—is below.
New York editor-in-chief Adam Moss turns 52 today. If you work at the magazine and you see him in the hallway, please be sure to extend your best wishes. Others celebrating today: George Clooney is turning 48. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is 56. Folk legend Bob Seger is 64. Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama is turning 75. Baseball great Willie Mays is 78. Rubin "Hurricane" Carter is turning 71. Dancing With the Stars host Tom Bergeron is 54. Foo Fighters guitarist Chris Shiflett is 38. And Touched by an Angel actress Roma Downey (and the wife of TV mega-producer Mark Burnett) turns 49 today.
Possible the most poorly-timed project in the history of television will soon be upon us: Joan Rivers is launching a new show in which she talks to very, very rich people about exactly how they got to be so very, very rich. "She knocks on the doors of mega-mansions, and approaches drivers of luxury cars, to ask how the heck they have all that money," explains Mark Burnett, the show's producer and the man responsible for unleashing the Survivor phenomenon. Could there be a worse time for a show like this in, say, the last 100 years or so? Probably not, which explains why even Burnett has trouble explaining the concept's awkward timing. "This show is about the super-rich. And, in this climate, the super-rich get richer." Tell that to billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who has lost $30 billion (or $100 million a day) in recent weeks—or Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Sergei Brin, or Larry Page, who have each lost 11-figure sums since the start of the financial crisis.
· The lines between hard news and whatever it is CNN is doing continue to blur: D.L. Hughley will host a "news-driven comedy" show on Saturday nights that will offer a "skewering take on news and events." Let's sample the material: "There have been six movies with a black man as the president, and in all those movies, the world was coming to an end. If this election isn't art imitating life, I don't know what is." Yeah. Fuck off. [Variety] · NBC has beaten out ABC in the race to nab David E. Kelley's new series, described as "a father-daughter drama." [THR] After the jump: Which Funniest Woman Alive is making a return to series TV?· Mark Burnett is shooting the pilot for Rouletter—a complicated game show that involves a roulette wheel covered in letters—in South America. They are currently on the hunt for contestants who won't respond to the host's enthusiastic opener, "So, are YOU ready to play Rouletter?!" with a quizzical, "¿Qué?" [Variety] · Amy Sedaris has signed a deal with 20th Century Fox TV to write and star in a new single-camera sitcom, which she'll co-create with Strangers With Candy's Paul Dinello. Fuck yeah. [THR] · Comedy Central is producing its first "fantasy comedy" (if you don't count Imaginationland). Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Firea will star Little Britain's Matt Lucas and Meet the Spartans's Sean Maguire. [THR]
♦ Sumner Redstone is being forced to sell about one-fifth of his stake in CBS and Viacom to meet the terms of various loan agreements. Also: Shares in Viacom plunged after the company announced third-quarter earnings fell short of estimates. [Bloomberg]
♦ It's official: Hearst's Cathie Black announced CosmoGirl will fold. [Portfolio]
♦ A little perspective: Time Warner is now less than one-quarter of what AOL alone was worth before the merger. [SAI]
♦ After much drama (and a few leaked emails), Scott Rudin has decided to talk away from The Reader. [THR]
· We have more info on the lift of the Oscars movie-ad-ban in place since 1953: The Academy will allow one spot per distributor, it must feature only one film, and it must premiere during the telecast. The idea is that the high-profile and elaborate ads themselves will become a reason for the disinterested to tune in—like when gay guys watch the Super Bowl. [Variety] · ABC continued to see steep ratings decline in its Wednesday night lineup, with Private Practice and Dirty Sexy Money both down about 20% from last week's already low numbers. Over at ABC Family, meanwhile, 10 Things I Hate About You will become a weekly series, and Joey Lawrence and Melissa Joan Hart will star in a romcom MOW, tentatively titled, Whoa. [Variety] [THR] After the jump: Which vigilante actor is about to star in a vigilante movie?· Jamie Foxx and pap-busting Spartan Gerard Butler will star in Law Abiding Citizen, appropriately enough about a regular Joe who takes the law into his own hands. [THR] · The newly sovereign, India-based DreamWorks has decided to put off its big Wall Street pitch until the market decides to crawl back out of Satan's anus. [THR] · Mark Burnett will produce an updated version of This Is Your Life, except every week it's going to be Donald Trump's life we're reliving. (And he'll never fail to act surprised.) [TV Week]
· The Dark Knight has now become the fastest movie in history to earn $200 million: it made that in five days, three days faster than previous record-holder Spider-Man 2. Do you know how much guyliner that could buy the Mayor of Gotham? Tons! [THR] · Russia has purchased the format for The Office, making the necessary regional tweaks ("Hey—who suspended the phone-bugging equipment in my borcht-flavored gelatin!") for full comic effect. [Variety] · Because what the TV landscape really needed was another dance competition reality show, Chris Brown and Mark Burnett have teamed up to bring you Chris Brown Presents: Untitled Hip-Hop Dance Project, which should pair nicely with the David Archuleta's Totally Fly Weep-Off Jam currently being pitched around town. [Variety] · ABC is close to committing to a pilot for Middle, "the story of a middle-class Midwestern family seen through the eyes of the mother," so long as they can secure Patricia Heaton to star. Heaton said she'd check with the Albertsons people, but that it shouldn't be a problem. [THR] · Tim Burton has found the girl to play Alice in his adaptation of Alice in Wonderland: relatively unknown Australian actress Mia Wasikowska. [THR]
Half the stories on this sluggish midsummer news day seem to concern the same bad idea at CBS: Jingles, the Mark Burnett-produced
product placement platform reality series squaring songwriters off against each other in the pursuit of... the perfect ad jingle. We can't make this up, folks, and even if we could we probably wouldn't want to — especially not the part in which the newsworthiest elements of the show are its judges: A kerfuffle-plagued, ex-Wal-Mart marketing guru and — seriously, we're too exhausted/sad/Dark Knighted-out to fuck with you — Gene Simmons:
It appears that Vh1 Celebreality masterminds 51 Minds Entertainment have ridden Flavor Flav all the way to the promised land. Variety reports that the reality television production company, led by Cris Abrego and Mark Cronin, has been purchased by Endemol USA (Big Brother, Deal Or No Deal) for $200 million plus. Cronin and Abrego, who are keenly aware that we're all nostalgic for conversations we had yesterday, are the brains behind has-been resurrection series The Surreal Life, and its seemingly endless chain of spinoffs (My Fair Brady, Strange Love, Flavor of Love — its subsequent spin-offs I Love New York and Charm School...). But what do they really have going for them? As Endemol president David Goldberg explains, a lot of it has to do with them not being named Ben Silverman or Mark Burnett:
· Looking for inventive ways to develop scripted programming during the writers strike, CBS Paramount TV reaches across our northern border to partner with CTV to produce the police drama Flashpoint. which will be scripted and shot in Canada. "[The production values] will be as good as any American production," somewhat defensively notes a source, trying to alleviate fears that CBS is trying to save money by eventually airing some second-rate Mountie melodrama badly overdubbed to eliminate suspicious Canadian accents. [Variety]
· As expected, the WGA has reached an interim deal with the Grammys, saving the highly expendable awards show from suffering the same undignified fate as the Golden Globes. Reacts Recording Academy president Neil Portnow, revealing that he may never have watched a Grammys telecast: "Having our talented writers on the team further ensures the highest level of creativity and innovation, something our audience has come to expect every year." [THR]
· NBC angers its network rivals by working some technically allowed, but "morally" questionable, Nielsen voodoo by repeating its Heroes premiere on Saturday night and adding that showing's ratings to the series' original Monday night number. We think. This developing feud over ratings-reporting gamesmanship is as confusing as it is scintillating. [Variety]
· In simpler Nielsen-related news, House is still huge, averaging 18.1 million viewers in its best-ever performance not artificially enhanced by an American Idol lead-in [THR]
· Creative triple-threat Kevin James will write, produce, and star in Mall Cop. We'll refrain from relating the logline and let your imaginations run wild with the comedic possibilities evoked by the combination of America's most beloved schlub and that offbeat occupation. [Variety]
· Fox calls up Nip/Tuck creator Ryan Murphy from its FX basic-cable farm team to their network major league club, giving a series commitment to Murphy's female workplace drama Queen B. [THR]
· NBC will bottle up eight midseason episodes of Mark Burnett's latest reality TV brain fart, My Dad Is Better Than Your Dad, which seeks to combine "the family fun and kid empowerment of '[Are You Smarter Than A] 5th Grader' with the universally relatable concept of bragging that your dad is best." It's still unclear whether or not the proud fathers in question will be required to beat each other senseless at the end of each show to truly prove their paternal supremacy. [Variety]
· The Daily Show is going to Iraq, eschewing the safety of the green screen to try its chances in the Green Zone.
· Now this is the way to quit your job. It looks like Ed Limato has one fewer qualified candidate for his blowfish-guarding detail.
· Mark Burnett has sold another show to NBC; think of this one as Are You Smarter Than the Friends and Family Members Paid A Nominal Fee to Humiliate You With Stories You Can Hardly Remember?
·You'd think by now that each time K-Fed gets a temp job, we wouldn't get so excited. But each new gig remains a fresh little thrill, and we can't wait to see what he's got in store for us on One Tree Hill.
· RIP, Leona Helmsley, the Queen of Mean.
While admittedly not every competitive reality venture devised by format innovator Mark Burnett could be categorized as a runaway success (e.g., On The Lot has yet to connect with audiences, and seems headed towards granting the guy who made the retarded-guy-in-Heaven movie a corner office on the DreamWorks lot), he nevertheless boasts an impressive batting average in the unpredictable genre. His latest effort, Pirate Master, premieres tonight on CBS, and seems a sure a thing as they come, pairing the Darwinism-for-dollars premise that made Survivor such a runaway hit with the public's enduring fascination with all things buccaneerish:
· Winning a record $370 million lottery emboldens Steven Colbert to finally tell semi-mummified Viacom overlord Sumner Redstone what he thinks of him. Unfortunately for Colbert, Redstone doesn't realize this was all done in character for his show, and has already dispatched a goon to stab him in the kidneys while the actor uses the urinal at his office.
· Yet another person is suing Mark Burnett for having the same unoriginal idea for a televised talent competition, this time involving Rock Star.
· This is what would happen if you ran Bill Maher through a computer aging simulation.
· Even Henry Kissinger is trying to get into Angelina Jolie's pants.
· It's a well known fact that Jesus Tortillas are the most delicious kind. [via Eater LA]
· We're number three! We're number three!