June 16, 2024

Surprise at TV Critics’ Gathering: DeGeneres Is to Host the Oscars

LOS ANGELES — The producers of the Academy Awards telecast announced on Friday that they were going back to a prominent television star, Ellen DeGeneres, to host the movie industry’s biggest event, the annual Oscar ceremony.

Those producers, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, drew questions last year when they gave the hosting job to Seth MacFarlane, the creator of the Fox show “Family Guy.” Mr. MacFarlane then set off a loud backlash with some of the material in the show, especially a song about women’s breasts.

But ratings went up, especially among the younger viewers the Oscar telecast had been losing. The show was up 20 percent among young adults.

Ms. DeGeneres has even less to do with the movie business than Mr. MacFarlane had. (His film “Ted” preceded his appearance.) But she is well liked in Hollywood, and her turn hosting the Oscars in 2007 was widely praised.

Still, the selection of a television comic with a daily syndicated talk show touched off some surprise here at the annual tour of the Television Critics Association — one of several small-screen developments to cause a stir here — because ABC, the network that broadcasts the Oscar show, has its own star with that exact résumé, Jimmy Kimmel. Ms. DeGeneres does have a history with ABC. Her situation comedy, “Ellen,” which made national news when both she and her character came out as gay in 1997, was broadcast on ABC.

In typical fashion, Ms. DeGeneres released a jokey statement: “I am so excited to be hosting the Oscars for the second time. You know what they say — the third time’s the charm.”

FOX STICKS UP FOR ‘DADS’ One new series always sets off the most negative response among critics gathered here, and this year’s “winner” — hands down — is a coming Fox comedy called “Dads.”

The show is about two friends, played by Giovanni Ribisi and Seth Green, who experience generation shock when their fathers, played by Martin Mull and Peter Riegert, come to live with them.

Going into the new season, “Dads” seems likely to be the target of mass condemnation for crude humor based on sexism, in addition to some racist remarks.

The cast appeared here for a news conference, accompanied by several producers (a group that coincidentally includes Mr. MacFarlane, though he was not present). Their defense ranged from suggesting that there would be “things we’d like to tweak” in future episodes (from the producer Alec Sulkin), to citing examples from the writers’ lives in which older relatives blurted out profanities.

Mike Scully, an executive producer best known for “The Simpsons,” joked that a certain expletive “was part of our regular dinner conversation — and that was during grace.”

The top Fox entertainment executive, Kevin Reilly, tried to defuse the furor by noting that comedies often experiment before they find the right tone. He then read out a litany of corrosive comments that the same group of critics had made about an earlier sitcom, complete with suggestions that the show might have been the worst comedy of all time.

Then he revealed the show: “The Big Bang Theory,” now the biggest hit comedy on television.

All of which was meant to underscore the idea that critics are often wrong about shows.

But not always, the Fox executives would surely argue. Among critics gathered here, the favorite new comedy of next season is one called “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” That, too, will be on Fox.

FX FINDS INSPIRATION IN ‘FARGO’ Fox’s sister cable channel, FX, will continue adding to its ambitious lineup with a series inspired by the Oscar-winning movie “Fargo.” The network announced here on Friday that the show would star Billy Bob Thornton.

The show will have none of the characters from the movie. Mr. Thornton will play a con artist who tries to manipulate a small-town insurance salesman.

Joel and Ethan Coen, the filmmakers behind “Fargo,” were involved in this project and will be listed as executive producers. John Landgraf, the FX chief executive, said here that the brothers read the pilot script and asked to do a rewrite. That consisted of half a dozen new pages, Mr. Landgraf said, because the material fit the Coens’ original vision for “Fargo.”

This show is part of the new genre of “limited series,” akin to FX’s “American Horror Story”: The series, also called “Fargo,” will wrap up in 10 hours, though it may continue in future seasons with new stories and characters in the same setting,

“Fargo” has long been the object of television ardor. There have been several tries at adaptations, with one, in 2003, getting as far as a pilot. That one used the film’s central character, Marge Gunderson, played (still pregnant), by Edie Falco.

CBS DEFENDS STRATEGY CBS offered a research presentation here that reinforced the network’s belief that too much attention is paid to viewers between the ages of 18 and 49, and argued that more advertisers were moving away from slavish devotion to that demographic.

Leslie Moonves, the network’s president, has fought that fight for years because CBS has been dominant both in total viewers and in the 25-to-54 group.

But this past season, CBS even topped its rivals in that 18-to-49 audience. “I didn’t think it would take this long” to win in that category, Mr. Moonves said. “It helped when ‘American Idol’ crashed.” Despite the win, he said CBS still believed in appealing to a mass audience, not just those under 50. “But it’s good to be able to say we won there, too,” Mr. Moonves said, “and to finally shut everybody up.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/03/business/media/surprise-at-tv-critics-gathering-degeneres-is-to-host-the-oscars.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Media Decoder Blog: Kimmel Gains in Coveted 18-49 Age Group

On his third day as an 11:35 p.m. late night host, Jimmy Kimmel took his biggest step yet to separate himself from the two titans of that time period, David Letterman and Jay Leno. He started pulling away, at least for one night, among the most important audience in late night.

Those would be viewers between the ages of 18 and 49, who are most desired by late-night advertisers. On Thursday night, Mr. Kimmel put distance between his ABC show and those on NBC and CBS. He attracted 1.24 million viewers in that category, giving him a substantial margin over both Mr. Leno, who had 938,000, and Mr. Letterman, who had 929,000.

In moving Mr. Kimmel up to 11:35, ABC’s chief goal has been to seize control of the younger portion of the late-night audience. Mr. Kimmel, who is 45, is 20 years younger than Mr. Letterman and 17 years younger than Mr. Leno. In displacing the long-time news show, “Nightline,” ABC was seeking to increase its revenue in late night by bringing in more young viewers.

Mr. Kimmel managed to do that Thursday, even though he continued to trail slightly in terms of overall audience numbers. He attracted 3.17 million total viewers, third behind Mr. Leno’s 3.4 million and Mr. Letterman’s 3.29 million.

But Mr. Kimmel and ABC will happily take that outcome because it means the younger composition of his audience is a positive factor for advertising sales.

Article source: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/11/kimmel-gains-in-coveted-18-49-age-group/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Media Decoder Blog: Leno Wins Three-Way Late-Night Race

On Jimmy Kimmel’s first night as a new player in the 11:35 p.m. late-night sweepstakes with Jay Leno and David Letterman, Mr. Leno retained bragging rights — narrowly.

On Tuesday night, Mr. Leno on NBC pulled in 3.27 million viewers, edging Mr. Kimmel on ABC, who had 3.1 million. The total for Mr. Kimmel was his second highest. It also put him in second place, ahead of David Letterman on CBS, who had 2.88 million viewers.

Mr. Leno was also the winner in the audience of most interest to late-night advertisers, viewers between the ages of 18 and 49. Mr. Leno had 1.084 million viewers in that group to 887,000 for Mr. Kimmel and 683,000 for Mr. Letterman.

Mr. Leno has been the late-night leader for most of the past two decades, at least in terms of entertainment shows. The show Mr. Kimmel replaced at 11:35, “Nightline,” often averaged more viewers in recent years than either Mr. Leno or Mr. Letterman, but it enjoyed a significant advantage in being just a half-hour show in a time period when viewers routinely go to bed with every passing minute.

“Nightline” proved it will be a factor at 12:35 a.m. It had 1.72 million total viewers for its half hour, while Jimmy Fallon on NBC had 1.35 million for his hourlong broadcast, and Craig Ferguson on CBS had 1.30 million.

Article source: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/09/leno-wins-three-way-late-night-race/?partner=rss&emc=rss

As Obama Accepts Offers, Late-Night Television Longs for Romney

Landing a presidential nominee as a guest.

The excitement at the show about a possible walk-on by Mr. Romney was tangible. But sometime that Friday, interest from the Romney camp cooled; the Republican candidate did not follow the precedent set in other recent presidential races by John McCain and George W. Bush by appearing on television’s most famous address for political satire.

A deal with the Romney camp has not been as close since, though Mr. Michaels said he is keeping offers open to both campaigns for a last-second appearance. That happened four years ago when Mr. McCain appeared as a guest three days before Election Day, performing a memorable sketch with Tina Fey as Sarah Palin, spoofing a home shopping appearance in a late appeal for cash.

Mr. Michaels is hardly alone in his pursuit: every other late-night television producer has been chasing Mr. Romney for weeks to try to secure a guest appearance, with no success so far. Mr. Romney also has declined invitations from a host of other media outlets who have landed President Obama for interviews, including MTV and NBC News, which was given two days of access to the president during his campaign tour last week.

The opposite has been true for President Obama, who has taken advantage of the open invitation from the late-night shows to make extended guest appearances on Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show” on Comedy Central, and Jay Leno’s “Tonight Show” on NBC, racking up strong ratings in each case. (Michelle Obama visited Jimmy Kimmel on ABC.) Mr. Obama visited David Letterman on CBS last month and did a sketch, “Slow Jammin’ the News,” with NBC’s Jimmy Fallon in April.

In the waning days of an intensely close election, one campaign has clearly made a calculation that the late-night audience is valuable and worth courting, while the other has maintained late-night silence.

Ben LaBolt, a spokesman for the Obama campaign, said the willingness to appear with interviewers like Mr. Stewart, Mr. Leno and Mr. Letterman has to do with reaching out in less conventional ways to undecided voters.

“Most regular viewers of the news made up their minds a long time ago,” Mr. LaBolt said in an e-mail message. “So while the president has continued to do interviews in traditional news venues, our goal in the final days of the race must be to reach voters where they are — whether that’s crisscrossing the country asking for their vote or appearing on the programs they tune into on a daily basis.”

Appearing with Mr. Stewart had the benefit of playing to an especially concentrated group of younger adults. “The Daily Show” scores the best ratings in late night among the 18- to 49-year-old viewers so valuable in television. Those viewers are hard to reach on news programs. (Mr. Obama’s appearance drew the biggest audience on “The Daily Show” this year, 2.8 million.)

Mr. Stewart’s network, Comedy Central, coincidentally released a research study this month that asked so-called millennials in what venue they would most like to hear a candidate be interviewed. By a large margin they responded: on a late-night comedy show.

Appearing with Mr. Leno (where he lifted “The Tonight Show” audience average by almost 50 percent), the president gained another advantage, according to a producer of one rival late-night show. “Jay is Ohio,” the producer said, asking not to be identified discussing a competitor’s strengths.

Mr. Leno has always projected a more mid-American appeal than most other late-night hosts, a conclusion borne out by some numbers. Mr. Leno averages a 3 rating in Cleveland, but only a 2.1 in New York.

Mr. Obama seemed well-aware of the potential to score with Ohio voters, when he joked with Mr. Leno about how Halloween would be different his year from last when Mrs. Obama offered trick-or-treaters only fruit. “Candy for everybody!” Mr. Obama joked, adding that if a child could prove he was from Ohio, he would get an extra-large Hershey bar.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/29/business/as-obama-accepts-offers-late-night-television-longs-for-romney.html?partner=rss&emc=rss