There's a new sheriff in town — and he tracked down some high ratings for A&E Sunday night.
"Longmire," starring Australian actor Robert Taylor as a charismatic Wyoming lawman, delivered 4.1 million total viewers Sunday night, according to Nielsen. That makes it A&E's most-watched scripted series premiere ever as well as the top cable drama launch of 2012.
"Longmire's" lead-in, the Season 3 rollout of the detective drama "The Glades," gathered 3.1 million total viewers, up 19% compared with the Season 2 average.
The eighth season of "Dog the Bounty Hunter" looks to be its last: A&E has declined to order more episodes of the reality series, which will continue its final season in June.
"Dog," real name Duane Chapman, has been an iconic figure on the cable network since the 2004 debut of his fugitive hunting series featuring himself, his business partner and wife, Beth; his sons, Duane Lee and Leland; his associate Tim "Youngblood" Chapman (no relation); and his daughter, "Baby" Lyssa.
Duane Chapman was first introduced to people through an episode of the A&E reality series "Take This Job," which featured the flamboyant bounty hunter as he tracked fugitives in both Colorado and Hawaii.
The series' run hasn't been without controversy, however. The show was briefly suspended in 2007 following the release of an audio tape in which Chapman repeatedly used a racial slur in regards to his son's black girlfriend. Chapman made a public apology on CNN and taping of episodes resumed in early 2008.
In 2010, Chapman was sued by one of the men he arrested in 2009, who alleged that Chapman falsely claimed the man had shot at him and edited the footage on the show to make it appear that way. The man, Hoang Minh Phung Nguyen, never had formal charges filed against him by police and said Chapman's defamation cost him his job and forced him to relocate. According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, the case entered mediation in March 2011.
Last year, both Chapman sons quit the show, which was taped and aired in an episode in March 2012.
"Storage Wars: Texas," the new A&E reality series, scored record-breaking ratings in its premiere Tuesday, attracting 4.1. million total viewers and 2.1 million adults, making it the most watched original series launch in the network's history among the two demographic groups.
The spinoff revolves around the franchise heading to Texas to follow teams of bidders searching for auction gold in abandoned storage lockers.
The tiny ReelzChannel earned some hard-fought accolades and prestige when it broadcast the controversial miniseries "The Kennedys," which earned 10 Emmy nominations, including one for outstanding miniseries or movie.
But the cable network appears to be heading in the opposite direction with its latest drama, which will feature an aging, heavyset action star whose movies usually go straight to video and who has been heavily ridiculed for his participation in a reality series that portrays him as a true-life crime fighter.
Steven Seagal has been set to star in Reelz' "True Justice" as the leader of a hardcore undercover team of Seattle-based cops who "take on the local crime element with a high-octane style of enforcement."
Seagal became a huge action star after first striking it big in the late 1980s and early 1990s with films such as "Above The Law," "Hard to Kill," "Under Siege" and "Executive Decision." But his star power eventually fizzled, and the last several years the actor has mostly starred in low-budget straight-to-video fare such as "Attack Force," "Flight of Fury," "Kill Switch" and "Pistol Whipped."
But Seagal, a "lifelong practitioner of the martial arts" who has never been known for his modesty, still considers himself a major star.
"I've been blessed with great success in the world of movies," he said in a statement. "Now with 'True Justice,' I believe I have the perfect vehicle for a hit show in the world of scripted television. My fans are going to get all of the adrenaline and entertainment they have come to expect from any project I've been involved in. This show is like nothing else on TV, and I'm excited that it has found a home on Reelz."
Seagal lately has been a punch line due to his involvement with the A&E series, "Steven Seagal: Lawman" in which he reveals that he has moonlighted as a cop for the last two decades in Jefferson Parish, La., working "major cases."
Although the show's promotional material says he is a "fully commissioned deputy" and Seagal introduces himself as a "deputy sheriff," he is actually part of the department's reserve program of about 200 volunteers. His rank of deputy sheriff is purely ceremonial.
ABC Family stands at the head of the class in a new report looking at depictions of gay, lesbians and transgender people on television.
In its fifth annual Network Responsibility Index, the advocacy group Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) assessed the quality and quantity of gay characters on the broadcast networks plus 10 cable channels from June 2010 to the end of May.
The top score went to the Walt Disney Co.'s cable outlet ABC Family, which is targeted at viewers 14 to 34 and features several series with gay characters, including "Pretty Little Liars" and "Greek." CW earned the best score among any broadcaster, thanks to openly gay characters on shows such as "90210" and "Gossip Girl."
"We're incredibly proud to be acknowledged by GLAAD," ABC Family President Michael Riley said in an interview. "We want to be sure we program in a relatable, authentic way."
GLAAD gave failing grades to cable outlets A&E and TBS. The group pointed out that most of what very little gay inclusiveness A&E could claim stemmed from the fact that Ryan Buell, the host of "Paranormal State," came out as bisexual.
"Often inclusion of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) characters is a matter of will," said Herndon Graddick, senior director of programs at GLAAD. "It’s really something we’re going to be addressing with both of those networks."
Representatives for A&E and TBS did not respond to emails requesting comment.
Other networks that have been flunked by GLAAD in the past – including CBS and USA – have risen to "adequate" in the new report. CBS' drama "The Good Wife" includes a bisexual investigator played by Archie Panjabi, who won an Emmy for the role.
GLAAD representatives say that representations of gays and lesbians on TV shows is important because the medium helps shape Americans' perceptions. More than one-third of people who reported viewing gays more favorably over the past five years in a recent GLAAD poll said that "seeing gay or lesbian characters" on TV was a contributing factor.
The group also pointed to the immense buying power of gays and lesbians, estimated at $835 billion in 2011.
One area of concern for GLAAD: the continuing lack of transgender characters on television. With a few exceptions – such as model Isis King on CW's "America's Next Top Model" – transgender people are seldom seen in programming.
Graddick said that transgender depictions on TV are lagging 20 years behind those of gays and lesbians.
"Storage Wars" has just lifted the door on some record ratings.
The A&E reality hit about storage auctions delivered 5.1 million total viewers in its Season 2 premiere at 10:30 Wednesday night, according to the Nielsen Co. That was the second half of back-to-back premiere episodes; the first scored 4.5 million viewers.
That makes it the highest-rated series telecast in A&E history. Perhaps more impressive: The hour beat original episodes of NBC's reality dating show "Love in the Wild" (4.6 million) and ABC's newsmagazine "Primetime Nightline" (3.2 million).
"Storage Wars" is structured as a competition among professional buyers who bid on the unclaimed contents of commercial storage lockers after getting just a quick glimpse inside.
A&E is in the business of hoarding — or at least capturing it on video — so it makes sense that the network is stockpiling its lineup. Eleven series will return and 10 new ones will be added to the lineup by the end of the year, the network announced Wednesday .
With “Storage Wars” averaging an impressive 2.8 million viewers, the network is hoping to benefit from viewers' fascination with repossessed storage units with the spinoff series “Storage Wars: Dallas.”
In addition, the network is picking up the new series “InLaws” (working title), “Ship Happens” (working title) and “Boar Hunters” (working title) are planned for 2011. A&E is also in development on more than 40 original series concepts, including projects from Ryan Murphy, Mark Burnett and Ryan Seacrest, among others .
And the miniseries “Coma,” a retelling of the bestselling novel by Robin Cook about a doctor who discovers that healthy patients are falling into comas on the operating table, is in the works for Memorial Day 2012; Ridley and Tony Scott will serve as executive producers.
Returning series include “Hoarders,” ”Dog the Bounty Hunter,” Storage Wars” and “Glades.”
More on the full list of series is after the jump ...
"Prison Break" fans who still e-mail us about bringing the show back to the small screen, this one's for you:
Executive producers Matt Olmstead and Nick Santora have a new prison-breaking-related drama -- "Breakout Kings" -- that will premiere on A&E on March 13.
As Santora said at the Television Critics Assn. press tour Friday, "It's not about breaking out of prison. It's about what happens after they break out."
More on that later.
Drum roll please: T-Bag will be in an episode of the show. Yes, T-Bag! Robert Knepper will reprise his memorable "Prison Break" role in an episode. T-Bag breaks out of Fox River -- again! -- and the race is on!
So you don't get Michael Scofield to rise from the dead, but you get T-Bag. Please don't e-mail me with more "Prison Break" requests. Let's accept that the writers have moved on.
Back to that.
"Breakout Kings" is a new fast-paced drama about a deal that the U.S. Marshals Office makes with a group of convicts to help them catch fugitives (you know, same idea as USA's "White Collar" but with a lot more grit and people).
Laz Alonzo ("Avatar") and Domenick Lombardozzi ("The Wire") play veteran U.S. Marshals who take the unconventional approach to fighting crimes. Their special task force is played by Jimmi Simpson ("It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia"), Malcolm Goodwin ("American Gangster") and Serinda Swan ("Smallville"); Brooke Nevin plays a civilian who assists the group.
Unlike "Prison Break," the show has a humorous side, and the producers said they are also enjoying writing close-ended episodes. But that doesn't mean viewers won't get to know the characters on a deeper level.
"It's a bit of a balance in that you get to know them as they are investigating the case," Olmstead said. "The conceit of the show is such that there's a finite amount of time that you have to catch this fugitive. So it's not like they punch out and they go home and have dinner with the wife and kids and address their background in that matter. It's on the fly and through their craft."
On Friday, A&E will premiere one of the most interesting and compelling shows of this fall season: "Teach: Tony Danza," a docu-reality show that follows the famous actor during a year of teaching sophomore English at Northeast High School in Philadelphia.
It sounds like a gimmick, yes, but Tony Danza put his heart and soul into his work with his students. The result is not just a voyeuristic look at a fascinating personal journey, but it also spotlights the disappointing state of public education in America.
Nothing about his job came easy for Danza, who was constantly tested by his students. For a taste of what we mean, here's an anecdote Danza shared with us over lunch earlier this month:
He asked his class of 26 to write a short story using six of these vocabulary words: arrogant, mollified, anguish, complacently, ominously, metaphor, hyperbole, hero, ironic, imagery and formidable.
One particularly challenging (and clever) student wrote: “My arrogant teacher told me to write a story using the words — anguish, complacently, ominously, metaphor, hyperbole, hero, ironic, imagery, and formidable — so I mollified him and did the work.”
Danza made her write it over.
"My arrogant teacher told me to write a story. So I mollified him and wrote the darn thing. I was anguished because my first story wasn’t acceptable. So I had to complacently write this one. He ominously stood over me while I started to write, which is really annoying. He’s a donkey when he does stuff like that. He will talk about it non-stop if you don’t do what he says. He’s not a hero of the school. It was ironic because the word I was thinking he is is the first word on the list of words you have to use for this darn story. The boy, Eric, in front of me is crying. Now use imagery to imagine that. This is not a formidable challenge.”
Danza approved of the revision and laughs about the moment now, but the series reveals how the first-year teacher struggled in more ways than one.
Cast of "Jersey Shore," Tony Danza has a bone to pick with you! Stop sending his students bad messages.
Yes, we said students.
For the teenagers at Northeast High School, Danza -- actually, it’s “Mr. D” -- was their teacher. And he thinks Snooki and her bronzed pals make it hard for teachers.
That show is telling kids that “bad behavior pays off,” he said.
But enough about Snooki and the gang. Time for a different kind of reality. In A&E’s new series “Teach: Tony Danza,” the actor and Broadway star (and cookbook author?) ditches the entertainment scene to take on the role of a 10th-grade English teacher at the Philadelphia school.
The show chronicles Danza’s yearlong struggle to teach not only the curriculum of two back-to-back 45 minute periods, but life lessons.
“It’s not the teaching; I mean the teaching’s hard,” Danza said during the TCA press tour. “But the really hard thing is the counseling. You spend a lot of time being father, mother, brother, sister, psychologist..."
Danza’s foray into the reality world wasn’t, he said, an attempt to jump-start his career; rather, he saw it as an opportunity to try something new during a slow period. (It should be noted that in the midst of shooting, Danza was offered Kelsey Grammer’s role in "La Cage Aux Folles," which he turned down to remain committed to the project).
And his star status didn’t make him immune to any work: He went through weeks of training at the school district, tours of the city, workshops, etc., said Linda Carroll, the school’s principal.
Not that that helped ease Danza’s biggest fear.
“Your intellect is on display,” he said. “It’s nerve-racking.”
But, hey, Tony, are they really paying attention to your intellect? During the session, Danza informed the members of the press just how skillful teenagers are with their phones -- they can text even when their phones are in their pocket!
“They can look right at you and they’re texting. It’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen!”
Attention all of you "Prison Break" fans who still relentlessly flood our InBoxes for the return of the 2009 canceled Fox drama:
A&E Network has picked up "Breakout Kings," created by Matt Olmstead and Nick Santora of "Prison Break." And yes, it is right up your alley.
The action drama follows the unconventional partnership between the U.S. Marshal's office and a group of convicts as they work to catch fugitives on the run, according to a network press release. (You know, the kind of criminal-cop relationship we've seen work successfully on USA on "White Collar").
The series goes into production in Toronto in the fall and will air next year. The cast includes: Laz Alonso ("Avatar" and “The Fast and the Furious”), Domenick Lombardozzi (“The Wire" and “Entourage”), Jimmi Simpson (“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia"), Malcolm Goodwin ("American Gangster") and Brooke Nevin ("Worst Week").
Hey, kids, it's summer and, for better or worse -- you may have thought about getting off the couch now that the days are long, but, um, sorry -- a massive amount of new television is headed your way. Premiering series, returning shows, random one-night stands.
Once it was all about the fall, but summer is no bummer. We (the royal we) have done you the favor of cataloging a great deal of this coming product -- from the oh-so-kissable "Mad Men" to a puppet-monkey in rehab (MTV's "Warren the Ape") to the quartet of famous human foxes starring in TV Land's first original sitcom, "Hot in Cleveland" (above). Name them and I will send you a penny, maybe. (Probably not.) I did neglect to include Starz's eight-part adaptation of "The Pillars of the Earth," Ken Follett's novel of 12th century England, but that just tells you what an unmanageable amount of new TV is bearing down on us. The report is online now, and will appear in this Sunday's Calendar on keepsake newsprint.