Transitions are always tricky in TV news. Executives want to find a way to reach younger audiences. But it's hard to replicate the audience loyalty built up by older, established anchors who became famous during an earlier era of television. So ABC News deserves credit for the crafty transition plan announced Wednesday for ABC World News anchor Diane Sawyer. Here's what it means for...
John F. Kennedy
Friday marks the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's assassination in Dallas, Texas, and both broadcast and cable networks are featuring special programming tied to the national tragedy. Here's a complete roundup of how you can catch daily coverage of the anniversary on TV, though many networks are offering supplemental coverage online as well.
House of Cards
"I have no patience for useless things." The Machiavellian politician making this pronouncement, in the sinister opening scene of Netflix's instantly gripping shot-across-the-bow miniseries House of Cards, is Francis Underwood (a perfectly reptilian Kevin Spacey). On the surface, he's a team player, a powerful House of Representatives leader in the cynical snake pit of Washington, D.C. The conceit of House of Cards, as it was in the brilliant Emmy-winning 1990 British classic this is based on (first seen in the U.S. on Masterpiece Theater), takes us behind Underwood's mask to reveal the manipulative monster within, a voracious tyrant who doesn't suffer fools gladly and takes no prisoners in his predatory pursuit of power.
Showtime's competitive juices aren't limited to the arena of scripted entertainment. Now the pay cable network is challenging HBO's Real Sports franchise by turning to masters of long-form narrative with the launch of 60 Minutes Sports (10/9c). Among the segments in Wednesday's premiere: a closer-up profile by Bob Simon of FC Barcelona soccer star Lionel Messi, whose prowess at 25 was demonstrated in last Sunday's 60 Minutes piece on the Barcelona team.
Barack Obama, Mitt Romney
Election Day is finally here! And your favorite Tuesday night shows will step aside for wall-to-wall results coverage. Not sure what to watch when? Check out our roundup below to see what the networks have planned (all times Eastern):
The timing couldn't be better for this week's announcement by FX that the current — and best to date — season of Sons of Anarchy is being expanded by an extra episode (No. 14 will now air Dec. 6).
Heroes of the 88th Floor
The following is a roundup of programming in honor of the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Sunday, Aug. 28
George W. Bush: The 9/11 Interview (10/9c, Nat Geo): The former president opens up over a two-day interview about his experiences during the hours and days following the attacks.
Objects and Memory (10/9c, PBS): Narrated by Frank Langella, the film examines the importance of items recovered after 9/11, the Oklahoma City bombing and the Vietnam War.
A lot of people think TV is better than movies these days. For many actors, it certainly pays better. Unless you're able to play a superhero, it's tough to get super-rich from big-screen work, so more actors are moving to series TV. The expanded talent pool has given networks and studios extra leverage in negotiating salaries. "There are so few gigantic stars in features and the rest are not making any money," says one industry executive familiar with this year's deal-making. "That's helpful."
The general rule across the TV business is to keep lead performers on new network prime-time series to $125,000 an episode. (Cable networks are going as high as $150,000.) That's not Charlie Sheen money, but it's not bad. "Times that by 22, [and] you can maintain a pretty good lifestyle based on what you were making in features but now you're not," the executive says.
There are always exceptions
Katie Couric has signed a multiyear deal with Disney/ABC to host and produce her own syndicated talk show, the network announced Monday.
Couric will reunite with Jeff Zucker, who served as executive producer on Today when she co-anchored the show. Zucker, who rose through NBC's ranks while the network fell to fourth in prime time, will executive-produce her series. It's scheduled to start in September 2012. Under the new pact, she will also join the ABC News team and will anchor specials.
Katie Couric signed off as the anchor of CBS Evening News on Thursday, calling the last five years an "incredible journey."
It was business as usual for most of Couric's last night behind the desk, which kicked off with a piece from her Evening News successor Scott Pelley. The broadcast also included a rare interview with...