Category: Matea Gold

'Today' show decision to open wedding contest to gay couples spurs heated debate

Today show wedding pic
NBC's decision to allow gay couples to enter the "Today" show's annual wedding contest triggered a passionate online debate Friday, opening a new front in the fiercely waged battle over same-sex marriage.

The move came the same day as a federal judge in Boston ruled part of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, ratcheting up the legal fight over the rights of gays to marry. Activists on both sides are also keenly anticipating a court ruling on the legality of California's ban on gay marriage.

The popular "Today" wedding contest, now in its 11th year, is an unexpected forum for a debate over social change. The segment invites viewers to act as wedding planners, voting on the couple who will get to marry at Rockefeller Plaza, what they will wear and where they will honeymoon. The theme of this year's wedding, which is scheduled to be held Oct. 6, is "modern love."

"Today" announced its decision Wednesday night after executive producer Jim Bell met with representatives of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, which had complained that the contest application provided only an option for "bride" and "groom."

NBC said the contest had been limited to heterosexual couples because the weddings take place in New York state, which does not issue wedding licenses to gay couples. But after GLAAD leaders noted that New York recognizes the wedding licenses of gay couples legally obtained in other states, producers decided to change the rules.

"Our intent was not to be discriminatory or exclusive," the show said in a statement posted on the "Today" website Wednesday night. " 'Today' is a longtime supporter of the LGBT community, and GLAAD considers us an ally. We are committed to keeping those relationships strong and positive. We have opened up the application process to same-sex couples, and will extend the deadline to Monday, July 12. Moving forward, we ensure that our future wedding contests will be inclusive of all couples."

GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios heralded the move, saying the group was "thrilled" that the program "now recognizes what most fair-minded Americans have already concluded -- a wedding celebrates love and commitment, whether the spouses are straight or gay."

"Today's" decision lit up online forums, where posters engaged in emotional exchanges.

"Thank you to 'Today' and GLAAD for not being bold and unafraid -- leading the way in realizing that fairness, love, modernity deserve to exist and be expressed in ways that are sometimes even in spite of laws that say otherwise," one poster wrote on the show's website.

"I am totally disappointed in the 'Today' show," responded another. "The Bible clearly states what is marriage and it also states the abomination of this kind of acts between men and men and women with women. God is not pleased and neither am I. What about my rights!!!"

"Thank you," countered another writer, who said he was a longtime viewer. "My son is gay and I want him to grow up in a world where he knows that he is welcomed not excluded."

Nearly 800 comments were posted on the show’s Facebook page by Friday morning, with some warning that the show would lose viewers and others tussling over the interpretation of Biblical verses addressing homosexuality.

The raw responses suggested that the top-rated morning show will continue to field strong reactions to its decision, particularly if a gay couple is selected to be part of the group of finalists that competes on-air for the prize.

"NBC has lost my viewing and support," read one comment on the show's website. "Stick to what's legal and not what SOME few want. So I'm guessing one of the four finalist will definetly be of this group to make everyone happy??!! Majority won't be happy. We weren't made to be in a same sex relationship. Liberal media working here!"

One poster, "Bill the banker," who claimed to watch the show every morning before work, said the change could make for a livelier competition: "Equality may have paved the way for one fun and interesting wedding contest this year!”

-- Matea Gold
twitter.com/mateagold

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Photo: Last year's winners, Leigh Daniel and Nick Cordes, are congratulated by Al Roker, Meredith Vieira, Matt Lauer and Ann Curry. Credit: NBC

Brenda Vaccaro says 'You Don't Know Jack' revived her career

Vaccaro Brenda Vaccaro was ready to give up on acting until the HBO movie “You Don’t Know Jack” came along.

“I didn’t work for three years,” the 70-year-old said Thursday. “I was ready to roll this thing up and go to Normandy and pick berries with my husband’s French mother, because there wasn’t anything happening….I just didn’t feel the heartbeat anymore. And all of a sudden I’ve got an Emmy nomination.”

Vaccaro was nominated for outstanding supporting actress for her portrayal of Margo Janus, the older sister of Jack Kevorkian, in the film about the proponent of assisted suicide. It was one of 15 nominations for the project, which is a contender for best made-for-television movie.

On Thursday, a jubilant Vaccaro credited director Barry Levinson for reviving her career. “He gave me back my hope, my spirit, my life,” she said. 

The longtime stage and film actress already has one Emmy to her name – a trophy for best supporting actress she won in 1974 for the movie “The Shape of Things.” “How about the Ice Age!” she recalled. “For God’s sake, I was a baby. I wore white all the time – that’s how skinny I was. Now all I can say, careers are amazing. I think there’s an enormous amount of magic in it.”

Vaccaro spent the morning sitting in her backyard in Encino calling the cast and crew of “You Don’t Know Jack” as her neighbors shouted congratulations out of their windows. “It’s a great party over here on my back patio!”

She said she hasn’t “dared” contemplate winning again. “I’m scared to go there. All I know is right now, the feeling of being nominated by your acting family is just about as good as it gets.”

-- Matea Gold

twitter.com/mateagold

Photo: Brenda Vaccaro in "You Don't Know Jack." Credit: Abbot Genser / HBO



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CNN Mideast Affairs editor loses post after tweeting her respect for militant cleric

Nasr_octavia Octavia Nasr, CNN’s senior editor of Mideast affairs, lost her post Wednesday amid mounting criticism of a message she posted on Twitter expressing sadness at the death of a Lebanese cleric who once was an influential spiritual leader of the Shiite militant group Hezbollah.

Nasr, who had worked for the cable news network for two decades, had already apologized in a blog post on CNN.com for “an error in judgment” in writing that Ayatollah Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah was “one of Hezbollah's giants I respect a lot" after his death Sunday.

At one time Fadlallah was considered a major spiritual leader of Hezbollah. In recent years, however, he had lost influence as he distanced himself from many elements of radical Islam and had condemned violence against women. Fadlallah continued to call for the elimination of Israel and was designated a terrorist by the U.S., Nasr noted in her blog post.

Nasr’s remarks were condemned by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which called Fadlallah “an international ‘godfather’ of terrorism” and asked CNN to formally repudiate the comment.

The network issued a statement saying the tweet violated CNN’s editorial standards. Nasr herself said she was wrong to “to write such a simplistic comment.”

“I'm sorry because it conveyed that I supported Fadlallah's life's work,” she wrote in her blog post. “That's not the case at all.” Rather, Nasr said, she was referring to the fact that Fadlallah took “a contrarian and pioneering stand among Shia clerics on woman's rights” and had called for the abolition of honor killings. She noted that she lost family members in the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut that Fadlallah was suspected of orchestrating.

But CNN executives concluded that her comment had irreparably damaged Nasr’s standing.

“We believe that her credibility in her position as senior editor for Middle Eastern affairs has been compromised going forward,” Parisa Khosravi, CNN International’s senior vice president for newsgathering, wrote in an e-mail to employees announcing her departure.

Nasr, who was based in Atlanta, served as a Middle Eastern expert for CNN, contributing to coverage about the region’s politics, as well as stories about global terrorism and militant Islam. Fluent in Arabic, as well as English and French, the Lebanese-born journalist got her start as a war correspondent for the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation, covering that country’s civil war. She joined CNN in 1990 and played a major role in the network’s coverage of the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, as well as the Middle Eastern peace process, according to her official biography, which calls her “a leader in integrating social media with newsgathering and reporting.”

-- Matea Gold

twitter.com/mateagold

Photo credit: CNN

RELATED:

Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah dies at 74; Lebanon's top cleric was once Hezbollah's mentor

No 'Glee' guest star spot for Javier Bardem or Snoop Dogg for that matter

Seriously.  Stop.

No more rumors, please, about "Glee" guest stars.  Let's all wait patiently for the show's fall return. In the meantime, we can watch reruns on Thursdays and listen to five albums of music. 

Javier Bardem -- as much as we'd love for him to be on every single TV show -- is not going to be in the second season of Fox's musical comedy, according to a 20th Century Television spokesman.

And neither is Snoop Dogg, no matter what that mischievous Cory Monteith spreads on Twitter.

If you want to see Bardem, he'll be in "Eat Pray Love" with Julia Roberts on Aug. 13, which was directed by "Glee" co-creator Ryan Murphy. As for Snoop, sorry, don't know his schedule.

Here's the "Eat Pray Love" trailer:


-- Maria Elena Fernandez
twitter.com/writerchica

Video: YouTube

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Complete Show Tracker coverage of 'Glee'
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'Daily Show' women: Jon Stewart is not a sexist

Daily show women 
“The Daily Show” is not known for showing its inner workings. In fact, host Jon Stewart and the staff of the Comedy Central show rarely participate in stories about the program or their process, saying they want the comedy to speak for itself. That’s why the 1,092-word letter posted on “The Daily Show” website Tuesday morning was particularly remarkable.

In it, 31 female employees of the program shot back at accusations leveled in a piece on Jezebel.com asserting that women on the show have to contend with a boys-club atmosphere. The June 23 story quoted former female correspondents, most of whom worked on the program in the early 2000s, saying they found it “a frustrating and alienating experience.” Noting that Olivia Munn is the first new female correspondent in seven years, writer Irin Carmon described an atmosphere in which women felt their opinions were disregarded and emotional vulnerability made them a target. She quoted an unnamed former executive who said "there's a huge discrepancy between the Jon Stewart who goes on TV every night and the Jon Stewart who runs The Daily Show with joyless rage."

Not so, according to the female staffers who signed the open letter, which was addressed to "People Who Don't Work Here." “We must admit it is entertaining to be the subjects of such a vivid and dramatic narrative,” they wrote. “However, while rampant sexism at a well-respected show makes for a great story, we want to make something very clear: the place you may have read about is not our office.

“The Daily Show isn't a place where women quietly suffer on the sidelines as barely tolerated tokens. On the contrary: just like the men here, we're indispensable. We generate a significant portion of the show's creative content and the fact is, it wouldn't be the show that you love without us.”

The women noted that they make up 40% of the roughly 90 employees on the staff. “Jon's rule is: the strongest idea and the funniest joke win every single time, no matter who pitches it -- woman or man, executive producer or production assistant,” they wrote.

As for Stewart himself:

He's also generous, humble, genuine, compassionate, fair, supportive, exacting, stubborn, goofy, hands-on, driven, occasionally infuriating, ethical, down-to-earth and--a lot of people don't know this--surprisingly funny (for a guy brimming with “joyless rage”). How else to describe him? What's the word that means the opposite of sexist? That one.

A sidebar listing things Stewart has supported the staff through included “9/11,”  “Pet emergencies,” “The re-election of George Bush” and “Inadequately researched blog posts that cling to a predetermined narrative about sexism at The Daily Show.”

Carmon’s response on Jezebel: “I just wish the show had agreed to answer questions or make anyone available to talk when I approached them for comment before the piece was published.”

-- Matea Gold

twitter.com/mateagold

Photo credit: "The Daily Show"

Larry King announces he is ending his prime-time CNN show [Updated]

Larry king
Larry King, whose nightly CNN talk show was long a required stomping ground for striving politicians and contrite celebrities, announced Tuesday that he is going to step down from the program in the fall.

The 76-year-old will not be leaving CNN altogether: He signed a new contract to host quarterly specials on the cable news channel.

But his departure from prime time marks a major turning point for CNN, which has built its schedule around "Larry King Live" for 25 of the network’s 30 years on the air. This year, however, the program has seen a sharp fall-off in audience. An average of 677,000 viewers tuned in during the second quarter of 2010, down 37% from the same period last year, according to Nielsen.

In a nod to how much the medium has changed since King began broadcasting in 1957, he broke the news himself on Twitter, writing:  “Announcing tonight: I’m ending my nightly show this fall but continuing at CNN. http://bit.ly/9hBv9.” 

King has long called himself an interviewer, not a journalist, logging more than 40,000 sit-downs with newsmakers since he began broadcasting in 1957, according to CNN.

It remains unclear who will replace him. CNN has not confirmed recent reports that it is in talks with Piers Morgan, a British journalist who judges NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.” CBS anchor Katie Couric’s name has been frequently floated as a possible successor, and King himself has volunteered that he thinks “American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest would be a worthy contender.

The end of King’s nightly show comes as CNN is working to refashion its low-rated prime-time schedule. Last week, the network announced a new roundtable show hosted by former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and conservative columnist Kathleen Parker will debut in the 8 p.m. ET time slot this fall, replacing the newscast anchored Campbell Brown. The hiring of Spitzer, who resigned from office after revelations that he solicited prostitutes, disappointed many CNN employees and drew external criticism that the network was abandoning its news mission.

King explained in a CNN.com statement, which he linked on his Twitter page, that he asked his network to let him "hang up his suspenders."

"Twenty-five years ago, I sat across this table from New York Governor Mario Cuomo for the first broadcast of Larry King Live. Now, decades later, I talked to the guys here at CNN and I told them I would like to end Larry King Live, the nightly show, this fall and CNN has graciously accepted, giving me more time for my wife and I to get to the kids’ little league games."

In an e-mail to employees, CNN President Jon Klein wrote: "Larry is a beloved member of the CNN family and he will continue to contribute to our air with periodic specials. Larry has been a giant in the industry for as long as most of us can remember. Anyone who ever mattered has sat for an interview on Larry's iconic set.  They all know the man it is our privilege to call our colleague and friend--tireless and curious, respectful and inquisitive, caring, generous, influential, a citizen of the world.

-- Matea Gold

twitter.com/mateagold

[Updated 4:28 pm. This post has been updated with a direct statement from King.]

[Updated 4:48 p.m. This post has been updated with comments from an e-mail CNN President Jon Klein wrote to employees.]

Photo: Larry King speaks during "Larry King Live: Disaster in the Gulf Telethon," held at CNN LA on June 21, 2010, in Los Angeles, California. Credit: Jordan Strauss/Getty Images for CNN

Katie Couric said to be open to many options, including going to CNN

Katie
Now that CNN has settled on new hosts for its 8 p.m. Eastern hour -- making the "innately controversial decision," as CNN/U.S. President Jon Klein put it, to pair former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer with conservative columnist Kathleen Parker -- attention is shifting back to the network’s next task.

With talk show host Larry King's contract up in a year, there's been no end to the speculation that he will be replaced. One option being considered is that King would be offered another two-year contract, but would not remain a fixture in prime time, according to a source familiar with the possibilities. CNN, which has denied reports that it is close replacing King, declined to comment.

Who would step into King's shoes? Earlier this month, the British press were abuzz with reports that his successor would be Piers Morgan, a judge on NBC's "America's Got Talent" as well as the U.K. version of that show. On Monday, the New York Post reported that one possible candidate, CBS anchor Katie Couric, had declined the job and is in serious talks to stay at CBS.

But a source familiar with the situation said Couric has not turned down an offer from CNN and has not begun negotiating with anyone about what she will do after her current contract expires in 2011. Couric appears to be leaving the door open to pursuing a variety of options, including remaining at CBS. Negotiations with that network are not expected to begin until the fall.

After struggling unsuccessfully to lift the "CBS Evening News" out of third place in the ratings, Couric is thought to want a deal that would give her a range of platforms, perhaps even through her own production company. A talent-sharing arrangement with CBS and CNN is a possibility -- the two networks have similar deals with Anderson Cooper and Sanjay Gupta.

-- Matea Gold

twitter.com/mateagold

RELATED:

CNN says reports that Larry King is close to being replaced are untrue

Photo: CNN's Wolf Blitzer and CBS' Katie Couric attend the U.S.-Ghana World Cup match at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, South Africa, on June 26. Credit: Ian Walton / Getty Images

A Times investigation finds few legal safeguards for kids on reality TV shows

Duggar 

After a month-long public records investigation, Times staff writers Matea Gold and Richard Verrier found that dozens of children are appearing on reality television shows without legal safeguards because of widespread confusion among state regulators about how to classify the shows.

In its examination of some of the most visible series featuring children under 16, The Times found that a majority had not obtained work permits to employ minors — including TLC's "19 Kids and Counting," WE TV's "Raising Sextuplets" and the entire "Real Housewives" franchise on Bravo.

Because producers say that the kids on their programs are participants, not employees, child labor laws are rarely applied. As a result, for the vast majority of these shows, there are no state-mandated instructors or union representatives on set to limit the number of hours the children are on camera, to make sure they get meal breaks and go to school, or to prevent exposure to dangerous situations. Most reality show children are not guaranteed that they will be compensated or that any money they do earn will be set aside for them.

After inquires from The Times, state agencies in California, Florida, Georgia and Virginia are looking into whether production companies violated child labor laws while filming in their states.

Read the full story here: Reality TV kids don't have a legal safety net

-- Matea Gold

twitter.com/mateagold

Photo: Jim Bob Duggar, who appears with his family on TLC's "19 Kids And Counting," told The Times that they do not consider the filming work. Credit: TLC

Telemundo's 'Caso Cerrado' breaks ground with Daytime Emmy nomination

DraPolo
Ana Maria Polo has a hands-on approach in her courtroom.

Polo, who presides over the popular Telemundo court show “Caso Cerrado (“Case Closed”), is known for frequently leaving the bench to embrace defendants with troubled pasts. And she insists on examining all the evidence in a case herself, up close.

“If I have to ride a horse because I have to check out if it has problem in the hoof, I’m going to ride a horse,” she said.

That’s exactly what Polo did in an episode that Telemundo submitted for Emmy consideration this year. It centered on a couple who had purchased a Paso Fino horse for $150,000, only to discover that it had a hoof disease that made it unable to compete in equestrian events. Shortly afterward, the couple’s child was diagnosed with leukemia and they were faced with mounting medical bills. After hearing their plight in Polo’s court, the seller gave them another horse.

The show was compelling enough to garner “Caso Cerrado” a Daytime Emmy nomination for best legal program alongside “The People’s Court,” “Judge Judy,” “Cristina’s Court” and “Judge Pirro.”

It’s the first time a program from a Spanish-language network has been nominated for a daytime or prime-time Emmy. (The bilingual PBS show “A Place of Our Own” holds the honor of being the first Spanish-language show to get a Daytime Emmy nomination two years ago.)

Polo hopes that the Emmy nod marks a new level of acceptance of Spanish-language media as part of American culture.

“We are starting to realize as Americans that we must expand our cultural horizons, that speaking other languages will not limit us as a country or change our identity, but expand it to include better communication with the rest of the world,” she said during an interview at a midtown Manhattan Starbucks last week, dressed in a canary-yellow suit and pearl choker.

The Emmy nomination may introduce Polo to a new audience, but the Miami-based family law attorney already has a broad following. “Caso Cerrado” attracts an average audience of 1.3 million viewers in the U.S. and airs in 30 countries including Chile, which is so enamored of the straight-talking Cuban American that in 2008 officials there invited her to tape a Chilean version of the show that aired in prime time.
Walking down East 42nd Street on a recent afternoon, the 51-year-old was greeted with excitement by a half a dozen passersby, including two maintenance men who called out with delight, “Hola, Dra. Polo!”

Unlike her Emmy rivals, the Cuban-born Polo is not a judge but a veteran litigator who always longed to perform. When she was young, Polo wanted to be a singer, but her mother nixed the idea.

“She said: ‘Artists have to sleep with older producers. They’re terrible-looking people and they’re nasty, and I don’t want that for you, my dear,’“ Polo recalled with a grin.

Regular stints as a legal expert on television led to her Telemundo show in 2005. Polo, who still practices law, acts as a mediator on the program and participants agree to abide by her rulings.

The cases run the gamut: divorces, paternity, labor law, immigration. Polo hears out the battling parties with equanimity, a calmness she credits to her experience battling breast cancer in 2003.

“That changed my perspective a lot,” she said. “I think it made me more compassionate, less legal, more human.”

She does not hesitate to bring her personal experiences into the courtroom. During a 2006 episode of “Caso Cerrado,” she pulled down her shirt and showed her reconstructed breast to a young woman who was seeking to use the family savings to get a preemptive double mastectomy. In her earpiece, she could hear her executive producer shouting, “You are crazy!”

When the episode aired, Polo’s gesture been edited out. She complained to Telemundo President Don Browne and the network ultimately re-aired the episode in full.

As she prepares for the Daytime Creative Arts Emmy ceremony in Los Angeles on Friday, Polo said she is buoyed by the possibilities for the show.

“I hope ‘Caso Cerrado’ is like ‘The People’s Court,’“ she said. “I want it to become a brand, a staple.”

--Matea Gold

twitter.com/mateagold

Photo: “Caso Cerrado,” a court show presided over by Ana Maria Polo, is up for a Daytime Emmy. Credit: Telemundo


 




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CNN taps Eliot Spitzer and Kathleen Parker for new roundtable debate show

Spitzer CNN announced Wednesday that it had hired former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and conservative columnist Kathleen Parker to helm a new point-counterpoint show in the key 8 p.m. ET hour, recruiting two headstrong political figures in a bid to revive its flagging viewership.

The network described the new program as a "spirited, nightly roundtable discussion program" that will be focused on the biggest stories of the day.

"Other cable news channels force-feed viewers one narrow, predictable point of view; in contrast, CNN will be offering a lively roundup of all the best ideas -- presented by two of the most intelligent and outspoken figures in the country," CNN/U.S. President Jon Klein said in a statement. "Eliot and Kathleen are beholden to no vested interest -- in fact, quite the opposite: They are renowned for taking on the most powerful targets and most important causes."

The move represents a return to CNN’s old playbook: The new program shares the same DNA as "Crossfire," the long-running political debate program that Klein canceled in 2005, saying the network wanted to move away from "head-butting debate shows." At the time, Klein said he agreed with comedian Jon Stewart's criticism that the show "was hurting America," adding that viewers were hungry for information, not opinion.

But faced with a dwindling audience for the newscast that Campbell Brown hosts at 8 p.m., network executives concluded that they needed to inject more forceful opinions into the network's coverage to compete with the strong personalities on rivals Fox News and MSNBC. A point-counterpoint format gives the network an avenue to do so while still maintaining that it is committed to nonpartisan journalism.

Continue reading »

MSNBC taps former Democratic aide Lawrence O'Donnell to host new prime-time show

Lawrence5 
Lawrence O’Donnell, whose career has taken him from the halls of the U.S. Senate to the writing room of a top entertainment show, is now getting his own prime-time show on MSNBC.

The cable news network announced Tuesday that O’Donnell, a longtime political analyst for MSNBC who has been a regular substitute for Keith Olbermann, will helm a show that will air weeknights at 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET, replacing the repeat of Olbermann’s nightly program.

MSNBC President Phil Griffin said O’Donnell fits perfectly with the rest of the network’s lineup, calling him “smart, progressive and based in fact.”

The move gives MSNBC a solid block of left-leaning hosts in prime time.

Griffin said he concluded O’Donnell was the right pick for the time slot after seeing that he was able to hold much of Olbermann’s viewership when he filled in for him during the last year. “He’s proven to connect with our audience,” Griffin said.

O’Donnell served as a top advisor to the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.) and chief of staff of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the Senate Finance Committee. He then moved into television, working as a writer and executive producer on “West Wing,” for which he won an Emmy. He’s also had stints as an actor, most recently portraying an attorney on the HBO show “Big Love.”

“Between politics and pop culture, there’s probably no better person,” Griffin said.

When O’Donnell’s new show premieres, which is expected to be sometime in the next few months, MSNBC will move repeats of “Countdown” and “The Rachel Maddow Show” back one hour so they will air at the same time on the West Coast as they do in the East.

MSNBC executives have contemplated launching a new show in the 10 p.m. hour for some time. Last year, fans of liberal radio host Cenk Uygur of the Internet show "The Young Turks" and Sam Seder of Air America lobbied executives to select one of the two men for the time slot, urging the network to bring on another host with the liberal leanings of Olbermann and Maddow.

At the time, Griffin said he wasn’t necessarily looking for a host with similar ideology. “I want that hour to be edgy, to be smart, to be a little snarky,” he said.

On Tuesday, Griffin said he hadn’t given himself any particular deadline to create a 10 p.m. show. “I’ve been looking for years. The opportunity came up because Lawrence was ready and we’re ready, honestly.”

— Matea Gold

twitter.com/mateagold

Planet Green expands eco-programming with 'The Fabulous Beekman Boys'

Beekman
The new reality show “The Fabulous Beekman Boys” sounds tailor-made for a buzzy cable network like Bravo: A hip gay couple from Manhattan tries to make a go at organic farming in upstate New York.

But the show is premiering Wednesday on Planet Green, a young eco-channel seeking to rev up its reputation with a prime-time schedule built more around high-drama characters than how-to environmentalism.

With compelling storytelling now the focus of the network, "Beekman Boys" centers less on their organic farming techniques and more on the drama that ensues when a former drag queen and a onetime Martha Stewart executive take on a 60-acre farm.
 
Read the full story about the show and Planet Green's broadening mission here.

-- Matea Gold

twitter.com/mateagold

Photo: Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell star in "The Fabulous Beekman Boys." Credit: Planet Green.

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