Category: NBC

Justin Bieber to star in prime-time network special

Justin Bieber
The Justin Bieber celebrity train isn't slowing down. The pop singer's new album comes out June 15 and one week later, he's set to star in his first prime-time network TV special: "Justin Bieber: All Around the World" on NBC.

The format of the special is a mix of behind-the-scenes documentary footage and live performances from Bieber's seven-country, 12-day promotional tour for the new album, titled "Believe." (Why not "Beliebe"?)

If that sounds familiar, it's virtually the same format as Bieber's big-screen film from last year, "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never," which followed the Bieb's tour to promote his previous album.

But the near-identical nature of the films doesn't mean that the march of progress has completely passed Bieber. The new NBC special will feature one technological innovation known as the "Justin-Cam," which will give viewers a look at life through the eyes of Justin Bieber.

The second single from the new album, "Die in Your Arms," was released this week.

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Photo: Justin Bieber. Credit: Frazer Harrison / Getty Images for ABC

'America's Got Talent' recap: St. Louis shows its spirit

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St. Louis showed its spirit Tuesday night as "America's Got Talent" took in all the talent under the Arch. Apparently the judges liked so much of what marched across the stage in the Gateway to the West (Howard Stern posited that they'd scrubbed the whole city clean of talent, leaving none behind), only a fraction of it could be shown in an hour.

So we were treated to a bevy of people celebrating the fact that they'd snagged a ticket to Las Vegas without seeing more than a second or two of the performances that earned them that privilege. I wouldn't have minded seeing more of a hip-hop violinist that Stern said was the best fiddler he'd ever heard. Then again, a few seconds was quite enough of, just for example, a group of curly-wig-wearing, Irish-step-dancing kids, the youngest member of which capped off the performance with what Howie Mandel noted was an Angelina Jolie leg move. 

Not all the acts were waved through to the Vegas round, of course, though some were offered consolation prizes that seemed to please them nearly as much. A pint-size Ozzy Osbourne impersonator earned a hug from Ozzy's wife, "AGT" judge Sharon Osbourne. "I would die," he said, when offered the opportunity to clinch his hero's spouse.

A guy named Ron Christopher Porter Jr., whose dream is to do movie trailer voice-overs ("I don't see where this would be an act … I don't think you can go onstage with this," Stern wisely intoned) was invited to "hang out" with "AGT" host Nick Cannon. "Really? Oh my god!" Porter said, jumping up and down as if he'd just won the Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes. Porter was further rewarded with more stage time and a ride in Cannon's limo.

There were other seriously buzzer-worthy acts: a female drummer who'd lost her band, a woman who crushes soda cans with her bare hands ("This chick almost hit me in the face with her cans," quipped Mandel), a guy in a chicken costume, some dude with a lasso and a small plastic bull.

But the ones worth all the judges' fuss? They were …

Isaac Ryan Brown: A beyond-cute 6-year-old boy with personality to burn who sang the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back" and had what the judges rightly noted was serious "star quality." "As long as it's coming from your heart, that's the only thing that really matters," Brown said of performing, prompting universal "awwws."



Spencer Horsman: The self-dubbed "world's youngest escape artist" (Stern observed that he looked 14, though he's actually 26) managed to wriggle free of a straitjacket while hanging upside down just before a flaming rope keeping a jagged trap from clapping shut on him burned through, spelling his doom. It was dramatic, and he had a sweet onstage demeanor. As long as he's got some good follow-up stunts, this young Houdini could stick around a while.



The Cut Throat Freakshow: This act included a woman named "Candy Pants" who walked and did a handstand on crushed glass, a guy who picked up a chair with his eyelids and a sword swallower – and that's pretty much all the details I could make out through my fingers.



What did you think of the acts that auditioned in St. Louis?

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Photo: From left, Ron Christopher Porter Jr., Nick Cannon, Curtis Cutts Bey at "America's Got Talent" auditions in St. Louis. Credit: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

NBC gets more musical with 'The Winner Is'

NBC adds another singing show to its roster with 'The Winner Is'
It ain’t over till the fat lady sings — or until she runs out of singing cattle calls to try out for. NBC is adding yet another such show to its roster with “The Winner Is" -- making it the 256,236th singing-focused show on broadcast TV.

The series is being dubbed as a vocal game show, with singers of all ages competing in head-to-head singing duels. We’re guessing it’s a prolonged version of the battle rounds from the network's other singing series, “The Voice,” which recently wrapped its second season.

Contestants will be judged by a special in-studio panel led by one to-be-announced celebrity judge.  And then it gets all "Let's Make a Deal" on us. There will be a “unique twist” in which  contestants can  negotiate a deal with their opponents. Without knowing the results, participants can choose to leave the competition in exchange for a predetermined cash prize or continue. The deals don't stop there. Contestants will also be able to make a deal after each singing duel.

In the end, eight singers will duel and negotiate until two remain. After the final two perform, each will get the chance to walk away with $100,000, or they can choose to put their fate in the hands of the jury and viewers at home for $1 million.

No premiere date has been set. But we're sure you'll see your share of plucky singers in the meantime -- whether you like it or not.

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twitter.com/villarrealy

Photo: Paul Telegdy is photographed at NBCUniversal in Universal City on Jan. 26, 2012. He is president of NBC Alternative and Late Night Programming. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

'America's Got Talent' recap: Tampa, Fla. auditions not so hot

The Distinguished Men of Brass on "America's Got Talent"
The judges were hot during the Tampa stop of the "America's Got Talent" auditions Monday night —  Howard Stern complained he was sweating "like a pig" — but apart from a few exceptions, the talent onstage was less so.

After the requisite upbeat urban-youth-saving crew, Inspire the Fire — complete with cheery cardigans and uplifting video intro in which they call the group "a family" — did its singing/dancing thing and made it to Vegas (the judges found it less "corny" than "Glee"), we got some guy wearing a doll in a Baby Bjorn, a self-dubbed "Scissorhands" who did something unclear to a woman's hair, and some other dude who said he was "America's escape hero" but may have been our nation's least-impressive escape artist.

We also got "bikini bombshell" dancers who couldn't dance. Howie Mandel said that, even though he added that although the women were "atrocious" hoofers with "no talent whatsoever," he "still loved" their act. But Stern, to his credit, was unmoved. "My Aunt Sally … at 95, she moved better than you," he said. "At least if your implants had exploded we would have had excitement."

Those acts may have left viewers cold, and a few other promising acts (Hawley Magic and Alesya Gulevich the hula-hoop artist, to name two) were coolly given only a few seconds of air time by producers.

But a handful of performers managed to generate at least some heat:

All That: A burly male clogging group who Mandel hailed for exciting the audience. "When you can bring them to their feet with just your feet, I think you've done something," he told them. Sharon Osbourne even wondered if they could teach her husband, Ozzy, to clog. (Now that could be a million-dollar act.)



The Distinguished Men of Brass: A sharp-suited band of talented fellows who'd lost their jobs and come together to make music and chart a new path, inspiringly. "Thank God for bad times because they brought you guys together," Stern half-joked.



Ulysses: This peculiar-haired, round-bellied, lucky-sweater-wearing guy proved himself to be an able singer of vintage TV theme songs. He treated the audience and the judges to "The Love Boat,"  "Green Acres" and "The Addams Family," failing to win Stern's love but advancing to Vegas thanks to Mandel and Osbourne, who saw the nostalgic entertainment value in Ulysses' peculiar talent. Yes, they were drawn to Ulysses' siren song.



What did you think of the acts on Monday's show?

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— Amy Reiter

Photo: The Distinguished Men of Brass at "America's Got Talent" Tampa, Fla. auditions. Credit: Virginia Sherwood / NBC.

Late Night: Jimmy Fallon and Will Smith get jazzy with it

 

Will Smith stopped by "Late Night" on Thursday to plug his latest movie, "Men in Black 3" -- perhaps you've heard of it -- but little did he know he'd uncover some family secrets, too. 

Jimmy Fallon explained that studio 6B, where "Late Night" is taped, has a long and colorful broadcasting history, dating back to the early days of television and radio. The space was even home to a radio show hosted by their "grandfathers," Will "Sunnyside" Smith and James "Fatty Monroe" Fallon. 

The jazz duo had clearly influenced Smith's musical career, Fallon suggested. As evidence, he played "long-lost" black-and-white footage of grandpas Smith and Fallon performing ragtime versions of "Parents Just Don't Understand" and "Gettin' Jiggy With It."  

As with all of Fallon's musical parodies, this one was spot-on, from Fallon's slightly nasal vocals to the exclamation -- "Hot peanuts!" -- with which Smith ended each of the songs. Quick, someone get these two on "Boardwalk Empire."

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'America's Got Talent' recap: It's Howard Stern's world

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"America's Got Talent" may continue to hype the addition of Howard Stern to the judging table as a "Revolution," but the shock jock already has evolved into feeling right at home in his new gig. On Tuesday night's show — the second night featuring auditions in New York, Stern's home turf — the talent show's newest judge ratcheted up his attitude that the stage was his to do with as his pleased.

Before the evening was over, Stern had brought his own dad up onstage to give a "nudnik" contestant a little helpful advice of the sort Papa Stern has apparently long given his son: "Don't be stupid, you moron."



He also titillated his hometown audience with a little sexy dancing.



Continue reading »

NBC, with Bob Greenblatt at helm, to snap 8-year ratings losing streak

Bob Greenblatt
It looks as if NBC's long ratings nightmare may be over.

NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt is poised to end his first full TV season on the job with the network No. 3 in the key demographic of adults aged 18 to 49, according to Nielsen. The last night of the 2011-12 season is Wednesday.

That would be the first time that NBC has avoided a last-place finish for a TV season since 2004. In other words, many eons ago in the world of TV. 

NBC looks set to earn a 2.5 rating in 18-49 for prime time, compared to a 2.4 for ABC. Fox, meanwhile, will finish first, with CBS No. 2. Among all viewers, CBS will win for the ninth time in 10 years.

However, there is a small asterisk to NBC's creep past ABC. The Super Bowl, which set ratings records in February, is really what made the difference. Without it, NBC would be on track for a 2.3 rating -- and thus would have been in the dog house yet again. Most of Greenblatt's scripted series this season, it should be noted, quickly tanked.

But as in politics and in sports, glory goes to the person who happens to be sitting in the executive chair when it arrives. And that means Greenblatt can chalk this one up in his "save" column.

What do you think of NBC and its performance this year? Any favorite shows?

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Photo: Bob Greenblatt looks likely to break NBC's eight-year losing streak in the prime time TV ratings. Credit: Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times.

 

 

'America's Got Talent' recap: NYC offers tears and triumphs

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It was a night of tears and triumphs that left us all chanting "What you gonna do?" as "America's Got Talent" trimmed itself down to a tidy hourlong slot Monday night.

As auditions rumbled through New York City, the home turf of new judge Howard Stern, we saw basketball-dunking acrobats, futuristically costumed Irish step dancers, a buff-bodied aerialist, a young piano prodigy, and a bunch of bands.

And then there were the memorable acts. Those included …

Mir Money, a 7-year-old rapper from Philadelphia who charmed everyone by admitting he was his favorite rapper and that, were he to win $1 million, he'd use it to take care of his family.

So when Stern and fellow judge Sharon Osbourne buzzed the adorable tyke and he dissolved into tears, well, we might all have been a bit shaken up. ("He's only 7!" my outraged 6-year-old daughter exclaimed.)

Stern hightailed it onto the stage to offer comforting words and a hug. "I'll fix everything. Let me fix everything," he told us. "I'm so sorry," he told the kid. "I don't want to make you cry."



"This job is too rough for me," the shock jock said. "I don't want to do it anymore … I'm not cut out for this."

Stern, that softie, then voted to send the kid to Vegas, but Osbourne and third judge Howie Mandel proved to have thicker skin and a better grasp of the long-term effects. No, they said, explaining that they had no wish to prolong the wee rapper's pain.

Thankfully, there were dancing, twirling, jumping, conga-line-forming, wheel-barrowing, and most remarkably, back-flipping Labradoodles to save the day.



"This is the most amazing, best animal act I have ever seen," Mandel declared.

Then after we saw the judges engage in a little alpha judge posturing about whose stage it was, we were presented another remarkable act: a man whose talent is taking massive hits in his testicles (no cup, because "cups are for cheaters," he explained) and shaking it off with barely a flinch.

"I'm here today to shock the shock jock with what I do," the guy, who calls himself "Horse," boasted.

Turned out, he both shocked and delighted.



"You have come up with an act that I can get behind," Stern said, before crowning him "the king of the nut shot." With three yeses -- "Absolutely amazing!" gushed Osbourne -- the act advanced to Vegas.

Then there was a band, Wordspit the Illest, which somehow combined rap and Phil Collins and violins and a massive leap off the stage into what Mandel dubbed "one of the most glorious moments we have had this season on 'America's Got Talent.'"



And last, but certainly not least, we met 77-year-old Burton Crane, a former amateur boxer and schoolteacher who strutted onstage in his white suit, holding his Casio music machine, and declared himself to be the "grandfather of rap."

"Usually 77-year-old white men are ... the guys who do the best rap," Stern quipped.

But dang if Crane didn't sink a more impressive and unlikely shot than the trampoline basketball crew that kicked off the show: His "What You Gonna Do?" refrain proved to be remarkably catchy. And Crane said he had more than 100 such original songs in his repertoire.



"You found a hook," Mandel told him. "That's a song that's stuck in your head."

As the audience chanted "What You Gonna Do?" he added, "That's what's going on in every living room in America right now."

Mandel was right. What you gonna do?

What did you think of the performances?

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Photo: Nick Cannon, 7-yer-old Mir Money and Howard Stern, right, in New York on "America's Got Talent." Credit: Virginia Sherwood/NBC.

Mick Jagger, Jeff Beck on 'SNL': Some NBC stations censor song

It was only rock 'n' roll, but some NBC affiliates apparently didn't like it when host Mick Jagger did a profanity-laced political song on "Saturday Night Live."

Near the end of Saturday's season finale, the 68-year-old Rolling Stones frontman performed "Tea Party," a bluesy number featuring guitar virtuoso Jeff Beck. Jagger told the audience he wrote the song, which is about the current presidential campaign and its candidates who "have to strategize a bit." 

The next line included a curse word that evidently led some stations to cut away early to commercials, according to numerous Twitter users. However, other stations -- including KNBC-TV in Los Angeles -- ran the whole number uncensored. (Warning: The video above contains the profanity.) Because "SNL" airs during the Federal Communications Commission's "safe harbor" hours of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. -- when broadcasters can telecast material deemed indecent -- NBC was probably not obligated to censor the song at the national level, but local station managers could use their discretion.

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Right after "Tea Party," Jagger and the entire "SNL" cast -- along with Steve Martin, former cast member Rachel Dratch and others - serenaded Kristen Wiig with the Stones' tune "She's a Rainbow." Wiig, the star of "Bridesmaids," has been rumored to be exiting "SNL" to pursue a movie career, and Saturday's show was essentially her farewell. She could be seen brushing away tears during her dances with cast members and earned a hug from executive producer Lorne Michaels.

Most of the early reviews on Twitter were enthusiastic for Jagger's hosting job, especially his performances with Beck, Arcade Fire and Foo Fighters.

"Jagger and Foo Fighters on #SNL is an #InstantClassic," tweeted @311Underdog.

Quipped @rebeccablissett: "That Mick Jagger kid, he's really gonna be something someday."

What did you think of the show? Did "Tea Party" air uncut on your local station?

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Fired 'Community' creator Dan Harmon attacks NBC chief

Gillian Jacobs and Chevy Chase

Dan Harmon has a message for his ex-boss at NBC: You never wrote, you never called.

Harmon, who was sacked late Friday as the showrunner of NBC's sitcom "Community," wrote on his blog that he didn't learn he'd been fired until he received a message on his cellphone. Earlier in the week, NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt had told reporters, "I expect Dan's voice to be a part of this show [next season]," but Harmon dismissed that as mere spin.

"I think he meant to say he’s sure cookies are yummy, because he’s never called me once in the entire duration of his employment at NBC," Harmon wrote. "He didn’t call me to say he was starting to work there, he didn’t call me to say I was no longer working there, and he definitely didn’t call to ask if I was going to be involved."

Harmon ridiculed the notion that he would stay on in an advisory role -- which would give him little power in any case, as he bitterly noted. "You may have read that I am technically 'signed on,' by default, to be an executive consulting something or other -- which is a relatively standard protective clause for a creator in my position. Guys like me can’t actually just be shot and left in a ditch by Skynet, we’re still allowed to have a title on the things we create and 'help out,' like, I guess sharpening pencils and stuff."

Two NBC representatives did not return emails seeking comment.

Officially, Harmon was let go by Sony Pictures Television, which produces "Community." But both the studio and the network have butted heads with the opinionated Harmon, who this year was embroiled in an epic spat with Chevy Chase, a member of the show's ensemble cast. The feud included the leak of a profanity-laced voicemail from Chase to Harmon. The actor reportedly was infuriated after Harmon rebuked him publicly for walking off the set. 

Harmon will be replaced on the comedy by David Guarascio and Moses Port. In the fall, NBC will move "Community" to Fridays, where it will be paired with "Whitney."

What do you think of Harmon's firing and his reaction to it?

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Photo: Gillian Jacobs and Chevy Chase in the NBC sitcom "Community." Credit: Lewis Jacobs / NBC

Upfronts 2012: 5 buzzed-about pilots that didn't make the cut

Snoop dogg

Lost in all the hoopla surrounding the fall lineups on the major broadcast networks were updates about pilots with major stars and producers that received a lot of buzz in the last few months but for whatever reason didn't make the schedule. Those missing shows include:

The "Snoop knows best" sitcom: NBC had been developing a sitcom that would have featured rapper Snoop Dogg as a father. Deadline Hollywood last October reported that TV comedy veteran Don Reo was producing the pilot. Snoop had been featured in a reality series about his family on E! and has appeared in several movies and TV series. Still, it's hard to imagine the gangsta rapper being on the same network that showcases upscale series like "Smash" and the freshly scrubbed Whitney Cummings.

The Sarah Silverman project: The comic was developing a pilot for NBC about a woman reentering the dating world after the decline of a lengthy live-in relationship. The comedy was loosely based on Silverman's life, and Jeff Goldblum and Ken Leung ("Lost") were among the stars attached. With the failure of Chelsea Handler's "Are You There Chelsea?" and the renewal of the struggling "Whitney," perhaps NBC felt there was room for only one edgy female comic voice.

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—The return of Roseanne: One of the most-buzzed-about pilots reunited Roseanne Barr with her "Roseanne" co-star John Goodman in a comedy that would have featured them in a trailer park setting. Instead of playing a married couple, Roseanne starred as the manager of the park, while Goodman played a friend who also worked at the park. Despite the failure of her talk show and several reality series, Barr remains a compelling performer. Perhaps instead she can dedicate herself to her  presidential campaign.

The return of Martin Lawrence: Martin Lawrence, whose film career has sagged, was set to star in a sitcom for CBS playing a widower with two teenage sons who decides to become a police officer after he loses his construction job. The pilot always seemed like a long shot for CBS, whose comedies generally revolve around young, predominantly white casts. The network is the one major broadcast network that does not have a minorty in a lead role in a comedy or drama.

—"Devious Maids": One of the most anticipated fall ABC pilots was "Devious Maids," the follow-up series from "Desperate Housewives" creator Marc Cherry and co-executive produced by actress Eva Longoria, about four Latina maids who work for rich families in Beverly Hills. Some observers speculate that the series' chances were not helped by potential controversy over Latina stereotypes.

Which of these shows would you like to have seen on the fall schedule?

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—Greg Braxton

Photo: Snoop Dogg. Credit: Frederic J. Brown / AFP / Getty Images.

Late Night: Joel McHale's illegal knife collection

 

You're probably familiar with the saying "don't bring a knife to a gun fight," but somebody ought to tell that to Joel McHale.

The star of NBC's "Community" paid a visit to "The Tonight Show" on Wednesday to promote the cult comedy's three-episode season finale. After McHale told Jay Leno about a recent opportunity to go feral pig hunting in Hawaii -- he turned it down, if you can believe it -- talk naturally turned to the actor's somewhat unusual hobby: knife collecting.

"I collect illegal knives, and now you know, Los Angeles police," McHale confessed. In particular, he likes jackknives and Bloody Marys, which apparently can kill something other than a hangover. (Badum-bum!)

McHale has a perfectly reasonable explanation for his knife predilection. "If someone breaks in, I would rather have a knife fight than a gun fight, because I would like to turn the last minutes of my life into "West Side Story,' " he joked (we think). "I just figure it's more of a challenge."

Leno asked McHale, who has two small children, where he keeps his cache of weapons. "In the kids’ drawers," he replied. "Because that's the last place people would look."

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