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DJ Dillon Francis Lands Interview Series With TBS Digital

17 hours ago

DJ Dillon Francis has landed his own interview series on TBS Digital.

TBS Digital has ordered seven parts for the comedic series, titled “One Deeper Talks,” in which Francis — as his German deep house alter ego known as DJ Hanzel — will sit down with renowned DJs to chat about a variety of topics. Guests include Calvin Harris, Tokimonsta, Kaskade, What So Not, Flosstradamus, Jauz, and Alesso.

The series is now available on social platforms for TBS.

Francis is one of the most successful DJs. Among his music credits is the song “Get Low” for “Furious 7,” plus tracks that have been featured on “Entourage,” “Neighbors” and “Zoolander 2.” He has worked alongside Diplo, Major Lazer, Skrillex and Calvin Harris. He also appeared in the Zac Efron movie “We Are Your Friends.”

Francis is represented by Paradigm and Teamwrk.

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- Elizabeth Wagmeister

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‘Fear the Walking Dead’ Showrunner Dave Erickson Steps Down, Inks AMC Overall Deal

17 hours ago

Fear the Walking Dead” showrunner Dave Erickson will step down from that role after the show’s upcoming third season in order to develop projects under a new overall deal with AMC Studios, the studio announced Friday. Erickson will still serve as an executive producer on the “Walking Dead” spinoff series.

“We’re beyond grateful for Dave’s amazing work on the first three seasons of ‘Fear the Walking Dead.’ With Dave as showrunner, the series fulfilled its creative promise to expand the ‘Walking Dead’ universe in a way that was totally unique from the original series, and has gone on to become the number two drama series in ad-supported cable, behind only ‘The Walking Dead,’ said Joel Stillerman, president of original programming and development for AMC and SundanceTV. “We are also incredibly excited that Dave has chosen to stay in the AMC family to pursue his next passion project. We »


- Joe Otterson

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Fox News Fired Veteran Comptroller Judy Slater

17 hours ago

Fox News Channel says it has fired Judy Slater, who worked as a comptroller for the 21st Century Fox-owned cable-news outlet for nearly two decades, in the wake of what it called “abhorrent behavior” that had been brought to the attention of senior management in recent weeks.

Slater had been accused of marking derogatory comments to African-American employees at the TV unit, according to a person familiar with the matter, and was investigated after the situation was made known to Kevin Lord, executive vice president of human resources at the company, which comprises the operations of both Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network. This person said the executive had been accused of making demeaning remarks to African-American staffers and ridiculing the way she said the employees pronounced words.

Slater could not be reached for immediate comment.

“We take any complaint of this nature very seriously and took the appropriate action in investigating and firing Ms. Slater »


- Variety Staff

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Health Care Plan Problems Take Center Stage in Writers Guild-Studios’ Contract Talks

18 hours ago

The halls of Congress aren’t the only place where a strenuous debate over the fate of health care has taken place this week.

The financial strain on the Writers Guild of America’s health care plan has been a central issue during the past two weeks of master contract negotiations between the guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

The guild is seeking a significant step-up in AMPTP funding for the plan, which is calculated as a percentage of WGA member earnings. The WGA plan, like SAG-aftra’s and the DGA’s, is administered by a joint committee of guild and management reps, and is known for offering generous coverage with little out-of-pocket expense from members who earn enough annually to qualify for coverage.

At present, that health care qualifying earnings threshold stands at a minimum of $38,302 within four consecutive quarters. Employers make a contribution to the health plan based on a percentage »


- Cynthia Littleton and Dave McNary

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Cher Drops Out of Lifetime’s Flint Water Crisis Movie, Citing ‘Serious Family Issue’

22 hours ago

Cher has dropped out of Lifetime’s television movie “Flint” about the water contamination crisis, Variety has confirmed.

The iconic actress and musician was scheduled to begin shooting the film next month, but is now unable to participate, due to a family matter. Cher cited a “serious family issue” as the reason for her departure from the project, though she did not offer details.

“This has been a project so near and dear to my heart and I was truly looking forward to helping tell this story. Unfortunately I will be unable to leave Los Angeles during the scheduled filming as I am dealing with a serious family issue that prevents me from going on location for the April filming,” Cher said in a statement provided to Variety. “I’m so glad that Craig [Zadan] and Neil [Meron] plan to move ahead and I know that this Lifetime movie will be done beautifully.”

Lifetime »


- Elizabeth Wagmeister

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First Look: Chris Brown to Guest Star on ABC’s ‘Black-ish’ (Photo)

22 hours ago

Chris Brown will guest star on ABC’s “Black-ish,” and the network has released the first look at the musician in character on the sitcom.

Brown, known for both his music talents and highly-publicized controversial behavior, will appear next week on the episode airing Wednesday, March 29.

He will play a rapper named Richard Youngsta. The episode, aptly titled “Richard Youngsta,” is about Dre (Anthony Anderson) who is excited about doing a campaign with a popular rap star, but becomes conflicted when Bow (Tracee Ellis Ross) and Ruby (Jenifer Lewis) provide feedback suggesting it plays on stereotypes. Meanwhile, Bow is determined to get the family to stop eating so much take-out food, but realizes the family may be too accustomed to eating whatever they want.

According to the first look photo (above), Brown will share scenes with Anderson and Deon Cole.

Black-ish” marks the second role on a scripted broadcast show for Brown, whose »


- Elizabeth Wagmeister

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Viceland Adds MTV Vet Lauren Dolgen as Head of West Coast Development

22 hours ago

Viceland has hired Lauren Dolgen as its new head of West Coast development, Variety has learned.

Dolgen will oversee West Coast-based production and development for the year-old network, which is a joint venture between Vice Media and A+E Networks headed up by co-presidents Derek Freda and Guy Slattery.

“As a producer I was lucky enough to work with Lauren on more projects than I remember,” said Freda. “I was always impressed with her ability to find and develop new material, her deep commitment to talent, and her capacity to help any project always find the best version of itself. We’re incredibly lucky to have to her.”

“I have been a Vice fan-girl for as long as I can remember,” Dolgen said. “Viceland continues to inspire, challenge and impress me.”

Dolgen joins Viceland after nearly 20 years at MTV, where she served as exec vice president, series development and head of unscripted programming. She »


- Oriana Schwindt

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Melissa McCarthy Explains How She Transforms Into Sean Spicer for ‘SNL’ (Watch)

23 hours ago

Although Melissa McCarthy’s impersonation of White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on “Saturday Night Live” seems like it was a role made for her, she was initially flabbergasted at being asked to fill the role.

During and interview with husband Ben Falcone on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” McCarthy revealed exactly how she came into the role.

“‘SNL’ called and Kent Sublette, one of our old friends from the Groundlings, who is one of the head writers there now, called and he goes, ‘I hear you’re in New York. Do you have any interest in coming in and doing Spicer for us?’” McCarthy said. “I was like ‘What?!’”

In her true fashion, DeGeneres proceeded to pull up side-by-side photos of McCarthy clad in Spicer prosthetic next to an actual photo of the press secretary.

“My dad and Sean Spicer had a baby and it’s me,” McCarthy joked.

DeGeneres then jokingly asked Falcone if he finds »


- Sarah Ahern

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Remote Controlled: Ilene Chaiken Talks ‘Empire’ Spinoff: ‘You Might Hear Something in the Very Near Future’

23 hours ago

Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front and behind the camera.

In this week’s episode, Variety TV reporter Elizabeth Wagmeister talks with “Empire” showrunner and executive producer Ilene Chaiken about the show’s chart-topping ratings, new characters being introduced (including Demi Moore), as well as the possibility of a spinoff.

“Empire,” which just kicked off the back-half of its third season this week, returned as the broadcast king, bringing in nearly 8 million viewers overnight.

Asked if she pays attention to numbers, Chaiken says, “You can’t get away from them. I’m certainly aware of them. I try not to pay attention to them because when your ratings are great, you celebrate them and say, ‘Our ratings are great and they’re the most important thing in the world,’ and then if you dip, you say, ‘Oh, I don’t care about ratings!’ We »


- Elizabeth Wagmeister

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Jake Gyllenhaal FaceTimes Ryan Reynolds on ‘Late Night’ to Prove They’re Actually Friends (Watch)

23 hours ago

Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds have seemed quite chummy on the press tour for their new film “Life,” but Seth Meyers was determined to find out how close they really are.

During Gyllenhaal’s appearance on “Late Night With Seth Meyers” on Thursday, Meyers questioned the pair’s friendship, claiming that people are “fascinated” by the fact that the pair could “actually be friends.”

“When you’re with contemporaries, you’re weirdly kept apart,” Gyllenhaal said. “I don’t know what it’s about but I guess you just are.”

But Gyllenhaal’s explanation was simply not convincing enough for Meyers — the only way to prove their friendship would be to get Reynolds on the phone. But after failing to reach him via FaceTime, Meyers conceded that this proves their non-existent friendship.

“You don’t know Ryan Reynolds,” Meyers teased.

But during a commercial break came a turn of events: When Meyers went backstage to deal with »


- Sarah Ahern

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Lady Gaga Makes Entrance on ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race,’ Pranks Contestants (Watch)

23 hours ago

After having her songs performed for years on “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” Lady Gaga finally makes her debut on the show’s Season 9 premiere.

But instead of a separate entrance, Gaga pretends to be one of the queens competing in the drag competition. She glides into the workroom with her face partially obscured by a headpiece.

“That a damn good Lady Gaga impersonator,” declares contestant Charlie Hides.

Another contestant, Alexis Michelle, says, “So this is the Derrick Barry of this season,” referring to the Britney Spears lookalike that competed on Season 8.

Gaga even recorded a segment as her male alter-ego “Ronnie,” before revealing her “true” self. “Ronnie” happens to be the name of one of her guard dogs.

Watch Gaga’s grand entrance here or above.

RuPaul’s Drag Race” moves from Logo to its sister network VH1 tonight, and will debut at 8pm. The show will also continue to air on the Lgbt-centric network.

Host »


- Lawrence Yee

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Tatiana Maslany Talks ‘Emotional’ End of ‘Orphan Black’

24 March 2017 10:26 AM, PDT

Orphan Black” fans, known as the Clone Club, got a special treat at PaleyFest — a very early look at the Season 5 premiere, which won’t air until early June. The company had wrapped production on the farewell season a mere 36 hours earlier.

Tatiana Maslany remarked, “Every day was somebody’s goodbye. It was emotional. It was sad. It was awesome.” The company is tight-knit and Maslany was sincere when she talked about what she’d miss most. “The community, the Clone Club and the set — it’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced,” she said.

One of the major storylines in the final season is longevity. Co-creator Graeme Manson noted, “John [Fawcett] and I knew that, in this feminist show, there’s a man at the top. Someone’s got to bring the man down. Think of the most evil patriarchal figure — the world’s oldest man. Westmoreland’s the top dog, like »


- Diane Gordon

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‘El Chapo’ Univision-Netflix Series Casts Marco de la O as Cartel Head

24 March 2017 10:00 AM, PDT

The manhunt for Univision and Netflix’s “El Chapo” is over: Marco de la O will step into the lead role of infamous drug lord and prison escapee Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán for the upcoming original series about Guzmán. “El Chapo” will premiere in the U.S. on Univision on April 23; the network has also released a teaser, which you can watch above.

Based on the life story of one of the world’s most notorious criminals, the series will cover the three-decade span of El Chapo’s drug trafficking career, from 1985, when he was a low level member of the Guadalajara Cartel, to his ultimate downfall.

Rounding out the cast are Humberto Busto as Attorney Conrado Sol, a.k.a. “Don Sol” (an important political party figure); Juan Carlos Olivas as El Güero (Joaquín’s main partner); Alejandro Aguilar as Toño (Joaquín’s main assassin); Tete Espinoza as Chío (Joaquín’s lover); Rodrigo Abed as Amado »


- Oriana Schwindt

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Leah Remini to Reunite With Kevin James in ‘Kevin Can Wait’ Season Finale

24 March 2017 10:00 AM, PDT

Leah Remini will partner up once again with her former TV husband, Kevin James, in a guest role on the Season 1 finale of James’ new CBS sitcom “Kevin Can Wait,” Variety has learned. James and Remini starred together for nine seasons on the hit series “The King of Queens,” which also aired on CBS.

Kevin Can Wait” stars James as a New York cop who retires after 20 years on the force, only to discover retirement is not as easy as he thought it would be. In the two-part finale airing May 1 and May 8, Kevin agrees to come out of retirement briefly to reprise his undercover assignment in an ongoing police investigation where he and fellow cop Vanessa Cellucci (Remini) will, once again, pose as husband and wife.

The series, which was recently renewed for a second season, stars James, Erinn Hayes, Taylor Spreitler, Mary-Charles Jones, James Digiacomo, Ryan Cartwright, Lenny Venito, Gary Valentine »


- Joe Otterson

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Kevin Nealon Remembers Garry Shandling, One Year Later

24 March 2017 10:00 AM, PDT

Last year, my wife, Susan and I were sitting in our parked car on a cul-de-sac in the hills of Brentwood, California, just outside the bougainvillea draped gate that led to Garry Shandling’s Spanish villa. With great melancholy, we were ruminating and paying tribute to our good friend when a postal worker pulled up and sprang out of her jeep with a handful of deliveries. As she headed toward Garry’s mailbox, I gently alerted her that Mr. Shandling had passed away four months earlier and wouldn’t be needing those letters. She somberly responded that she was aware of that, but it was her duty and the law to continue to deliver the Bed, Bath and Beyond coupons, an Architectural Digest subscription and other mail still addressed to him.

2016 was not a good year for a narcissist to die. It was akin to being on an airplane going down with about a dozen famous people »


- Kevin Nealon

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TV Ratings: March Madness Dunks on Tgit

24 March 2017 8:54 AM, PDT

The Madness of March continues apace, with the Sweet 16 on CBS ruling the night. From 8 to 9 p.m., during a heart attack of a Michigan-Oregon game CBS pulled in a 2.3 rating in the 18-49 demographic and an average audience of 7.77 million; from 9 to 10 p.m., which included the end of that game and the beginning of Kansas’ mauling of Purdue, it drew a 1.6 in the demo and 5.31 million viewers; and from 10 to 11 p.m., viewership spiked to a 2.1 demo rating and an audience of 6.78 million. (These rough estimates don’t include the entirety of either game — Michigan-Oregon started around 7 p.m. and Kansas-Purdue didn’t end until after 11 p.m.)

ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” bore up well against the Ncaa Tournament, all things considered, with a 1.9 demo rating and 7.75 million viewers, only slightly down from last week. “Scandal” ticked down to a 1.3 and 5.51 million viewers. “The Catch” brought in a 0.7 and 3.47 million viewers.

Fox »


- Oriana Schwindt

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TV Review: ‘Imaginary Mary,’ Starring Jenna Elfman

24 March 2017 8:18 AM, PDT

Imaginary Mary” is a show about an adult woman with a fuzzy, CGI imaginary friend — which is to say, “Imaginary Mary,” right out of the gate, is a show that makes no sense. Children have imaginary friends; not adults with 401ks and mortgages. The contrast between Alice (Jenna Elfman)’s sophisticated life as a public relations executive and her Pixar-esque, Furby-like security blanket, Mary (voiced by Rachel Dratch) is foundational to “Imaginary Mary’s” premise, which seeks to illustrate how even the most poised adult can be swayed by their long-held fears and fantasies. But the purposeful asymmetry of the premise doesn’t resolve into unified storytelling, in either of the two episodes sent to critics. Instead, “Imaginary Mary” feels most often like a family sitcom that is haunted by its own flawed idea, personified by a mostly cute but sometimes terrifying white-and-blue creature who usually has really bad advice.

The »


- Sonia Saraiya

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‘Orange Is the New Black’ Picked Up by Sony Channel in U.K.

24 March 2017 6:17 AM, PDT

Sony Channel has picked up British broadcast rights to Lionsgate’s “Orange Is the New Black.” The channel, which is available on pay-tv services Sky, Virgin, BT and TalkTalk, will launch the show on April 19.

The Emmy Award-winning series centers on Brooklynite Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling), whose decade-old relationship with drug-runner Alex (Laura Prepon) results in her arrest and year-long detention in a federal penitentiary.

“We recognize the demand for premium content that appeals to a broad audience, which is exactly what ‘Orange Is the New Black’ offers,” said Kate Marsh, Sptn’s executive VP, Western Europe, international networks. “It is widely recognized as a must-see series that we’re pleased to make part of our offering on Sony Channel.”

Lionsgate’s president of international television and digital distribution, Peter Iacono, said: “‘Orange’ is a global phenomenon with ever-growing appeal, and we expect it to be a great addition to Sony’s lineup of must-see premium programming »


- Leo Barraclough

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Globo’s Guel Arraes on ‘Jailers’ and the Brazilian TV Giant’s ‘New Age of Series’ (Exclusive)

24 March 2017 3:32 AM, PDT

Globo’s “Jailers,” the sole Latin American series selected for next week’s MipTV Drama Screenings, is more than a gritty Brazilian penitentiary-set thriller.

At just 12 episodes, and already renewed for a second season, it forms part of Globo’s drive into new fiction formats, subjects and characters as the Brazilian TV powerhouse grapples with the same challenge as other free-to-air broadcasters: how to maintain traditional linear TV audiences while appealing to cord-cutting millennials.

Globo’s answer, like many other TV networks’, is robust diversification. It has most certainly not given up on its famous telenovelas. But it is leveraging its production expertise, studio muscle and zeal for technological innovation to create what it hopes are event novelas, similar to the event programming increasingly being touted by other free-to-air networks.

Exhibit A: “Novo Mundo,” an 186-episode telenovela set in 1817, which began airing on Globo’s main channel Wednesday. For the series, Globo »


- John Hopewell

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Meet the Real Artist Behind Lily Tomlin’s Paintings on ‘Grace and Frankie’

23 March 2017 5:17 PM, PDT

Grace and Frankie” stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, but there is another star of the series whose face has never been seen onscreen. That person is Nancy Rosen, the real-life artist who provides all of the paintings on the series for Tomlin’s character, who is a painter and art teacher.

The Chicago-based Rosen has provided paintings for every season of the Netflix series, but her love of art goes back to her childhood. “I’ve been painting since I was five,” Rosen told Variety. “I didn’t have any choice about that. That’s just what it’s always been. It’s always made up my entire life. It’s kind of what wakes me up in the morning and I do every day.”

Rosen is an old friend of Robbie Tollin, an executive producer on the series. “Her and her family have been collecting my work since I was a little girl,” she »


- Joe Otterson

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