Actress Rosie Perez is set to make a return to the Broadway stage in comedian Larry David's new play, Fish in the Dark. The Do the Right Thing star last appeared on the Great White Way in 2007's The Ritz, and now she will head back in the highly-anticipated production which marks David's Broadway acting debut.
Joining the Seinfeld creator and Perez on stage are theatre veterans Jayne Houdyshell and Jerry Adler, and actors Jonny Orsini and Jake Cannavale, the son of Tony Award nominee Bobby Cannavale.
Fish in the Dark, which is described as a "comedy about a death in the family", will have its opening night at the Cort Theatre on 5 March (15).
Funnyman Larry David is to hit the Broadway stage as the star of his own new play SHIVA. The Seinfeld creator and Curb Your Enthusiasm star has collaborated with old pal Jerry Seinfeld and top producer Scott Rudin on the project - and he will now take centre stage, according to multiple reports. Shiva is part of the Jewish mourning period following a funeral.
The real-life inspiration for Michael Richards' Seinfeld character Cosmo Kramer has lost a $1 million (£588,235) defamation lawsuit against comedian Fred Stoller. Funnyman Kenny Kramer, a former neighbour of Seinfeld co-creator Larry David, accused Stoller of portraying him as a homophobe in his recent memoir after describing how guides on Kramer's New York bus tour allegedly shouted one of the show's famous lines, "Not that there's anything wrong with that", at community members whenever they took tourists through the historically gay-friendly neighbourhood of Greenwich Village.
However, the suit was thrown out of a Manhattan court on Monday (14Jul14) after Justice Barbara Jaffe ruled there was nothing offensive about the mention in Stoller's 2013 release, Maybe We'll Have You Back: The Life of a Perennial TV Guest Star.
She noted, "The phrase expressly conveys the notion that there is nothing wrong with being gay. In that respect, it cannot be considered homophobic."
Stoller served as a comedy writer on Seinfeld for one season and also appeared onscreen as annoying character Fred.
Hustler boss Larry Flynt has sensationally withdrawn a $1 million (£625,000) brand promotion offer to Justin Bieber in the wake of the pop star's race scandal.
Last month (May15), the strip club chain's marketing boss David Lieberman penned a letter detailing an offer the company made for the young singer to appear in global commercials for the venues. However, after clips of the pop star cracking vile racist jokes emerged this week (beg02Jun14), Lieberman confirmed the offer has now been pulled.
In a letter to Bieber's manager Scooter Braun, obtained by the New York Daily News, Lieberman writes, "Please do not bother to call us anymore, Mr. Braun, because we stress again our negotiations to have Mr. Bieber be our celebrity spokesperson are now, once and for all, over and done forever."
However, Bieber's team is adamant no talks were held between the two parties over the offer. A spokesperson says, "Completely false. There were never any discussions about this, nor would there be."
Comedians Will Ferrell and Larry David were among the home team fans cheering on the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup ice hockey finals on Wednesday (04Jun14) as they beat the New York Rangers 3-2 in overtime. The two sides will go head-to-head in L.A. again on Saturday (07Jun14) before the championship finals head to the Big Apple on Monday (09Jun14) for the next pair of games.
Hit shows Fargo, Masters Of Sex and The Big Bang Theory and TV movie The Normal Heart will be the projects to beat at the 2014 Critics' Choice Television Awards after scoring five nominations apiece.
Fargo, which is based on the cult Coen Brothers film of the same name, will compete for Best Mini-Series against shows like American Horror Story: Coven, Luther and Dancing on the Edge, while the dark drama's stars Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton will go head-to-head for Best Actor in a Movie or Mini-Series, alongside Mark Ruffalo (The Normal Heart), Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock: His Last Vow), David Bradley (An Adventure in Space and Time), and Chiwetel Ejiofor (Dancing on the Edge). Colin Hanks and Allison Tolman have also earned nods as supporting actors for their roles as local law enforcement officers investigating a spate of grisly murders in Fargo.
Masters of Sex and The Good Wife, which landed four nominations, dominate the drama categories - both shows are up for Best Drama Series, while stars Lizzy Caplan and Julianna Margulies are shortlisted for Best Actress and Caplan's co-star Michael Sheen is up for Best Actor.
The Big Bang Theory looks set to dominate the comedy categories with nods for Best Comedy Series and acting mentions for Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, Mayim Bialik and guest star James Earl Jones.
Meanwhile, the TV adaptation of Larry Kramer's play The Normal Heart, which debuted in America on Sunday night (25May14), was also a big hit with members of the Broadcast Television Journalists Association, scoring recognition for Best TV Movie and acting accolades for Ruffalo, Julia Roberts, Matt Bomer and Joe Mantello. There were also a handful of nominations for True Detective, Orange Is the New Black, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones and The Americans.
The winners of the fourth annual Critics' Choice Television Awards will be unveiled at a ceremony in Beverly Hills, California on 19 June (14).
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Pixar
The next Pixar movie might not be released in theaters for another year, but it sounds like it's going to be a good one. The studio released the plot summary for its upcoming feature, Inside Out, which will journey into their most dangerous location yet: the human mind.
According to Pixar's website, Inside Out centers on 11-year-old Riley, who "is uprooted from her Midwest life when her father starts a new job in San Francisco. Like all of us, Riley is guided by her emotions — Joy (Amy Poehler), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith). The emotions live in Headquarters, the control center inside Riley’s mind, where they help advise her through everyday life. As Riley and her emotions struggle to adjust to a new life in San Francisco, turmoil ensues in Headquarters. Although Joy, Riley’s main and most important emotion, tries to keep things positive, the emotions conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house and school.”
From the looks of it, Pixar has managed to perfectly match each emotion to an actor who truly exemplifies it. There's nobody in showbusiness angrier than Black, nobody more up-beat and bubbly than Poehler, and definitely nobody better at turning disgust into hilarity than Kaling. But they're not the only celebrities who are the human embodiment of a particular emotion; Hollywood is full of them. We've rounded up a bunch of our favorites, in case Pixar is looking to expand the cast for the inevitable sequel.
Aziz Ansari – ExcitementTry and think of a time that Aziz Ansari wasn't completely enthused about something. You can't, can you?
Michael Cera – AnxietyPart of the reason why Michael Cera is so good at playing awkward, nervous characters is that he's never once seemed relaxed in any situation he's ever been in.
Aubrey Plaza – BoredomWhether she's playing April Ludgate or just being herself, one thing's always certain: Aubrey Plaza could not be less interested in anything going on around her.
Kanye West – ConfidenceNobody in the world loves Kanye West more than Kanye himself. We should all aspire to believe in ourselves that much.
Charlie Day – ManiaNeed someone to shriek about spaceships or eat some cat food? Charlie Day's your guy, from his mile-a-minute speech patterns to the wild look in his eyes to his inherent unpredictability.
Morgan Freeman – CalmSpa days, crashing waves, smooth jazz... all of these things are somehow less serene than Morgan Freeman. He's a human lullaby.
Larry David – ExasperationIf anyone can find a reason to be annoyed in any given situation, it's Larry David. He's made a living educating audiences unto many grievances that would never have otherwise occured to us.
Jimmy Fallon – PassionSome people give 100 percent to their projects. Jimmy Fallon gives 100 percent to other people's projects, and still has enough enthusiasm left over to do his own show.
Taylor Swift – LoveYou might think you've been in love, but Taylor Swift has four albums worth of songs that would beg to differ. She's turned puppy love into an art form.
Ken Watanabe – AweAnyone can stand by and watch Godzilla trample a city, but it takes true talent to steal the film out from under him with a single, wide-eyed look. Ken Watanabe has that kind of talent.
NBC Universal Media
When Community was finally canceled by NBC, it was really just the wrap-up of a death march that has been playing out in slow motion for years. Actually, it could be argued that the fact that Dan Harmon's quirky ensemble sitcom set at a community college managed to make it as long as it did on a network is a victory in and of itself.
Network television has always had difficulty knowing what to do with smart, off-beat comedies, whether it was Taxi in the late '70s, NewsRadio in the '90s, Arrested Development in the 2000s, or Happy Endings this decade. Shows that need time to build an audience as more people get in on the joke perplex executives that are looking at ratings and ad revenue that don't add up. The fact that Community had a stellar cast headlined by Joel McHale, featured some of the most original writing on television and regularly took chances by embracing its uniqueness (and, yes, stunts like making an animated episode or setting a storyline against the backdrop of a pillow fort war) gets lost in the shuffle of bottom line numbers.
The thing is that you would expect that networks would've learned their lessons by now… since their counterparts on the cable side have been trying to show them the way for a while now.
Social Media Is Your Friend
Sitcoms like Workaholics on Comedy Central and The League on FXX, have loyal followings that their broadcasters try to cater to instead of alienate. They make the group that is in on the show's humor feel like they're part of a cool club. Counterparts like Louie on FX and Maron and Portlandia on IFC do the same thing and are also savvy about using social media to promote the shows. Instead of just sending out generic "Hey, watch our show" messages, as the networks regularly do, they utilize and encourage the online followings that their stars walked in the door with.
NBC has used their website effectively for a decade now to provide additional content for some of its comedy programming — The Office, Saturday Night Live, and even Community come to mind — but all of the networks continuously lag behind in embracing other new avenues to reach desirable audience members as they start to carry real cache, like Twitter and Instagram. With Facebook having been part of the public's consciousness for nearly a decade now, there's been plenty of time for network executives to become forward thinking in regards to social media, instead of continuously being reactionary.
Have Realistic Expectations
Nobody is expecting a network to have the flexibility that HBO has when it comes to the sort of content that they can handle on everything from Veep to Girls to Eastbound and Down… but networks have more flexibility than they are willing to admit. A sitcom doesn't have to have swearing or nudity to be buzz-worthy… it just needs to be done well by people that are given the freedom to enact their vision.
In today's fractured market, cultivating a TV show that has a smaller but desirable audience should be a true option for any network. By keeping production costs down and cultivating a specific audience base before the show hits the air, a network should be able to get away with smaller ratings for a sitcom. Ratings only truly matter when it comes to setting ad rates, but that's a model that hasn't changed much since Nielsen started tracking it in the early '60s… and it's a system that is ripe for change.
Targeted TV ads are the wave of the future, but selling broader based ads for a show that is reaching a key demographic isn't that hard. NBC already off-sets the cost of The Biggest Loser by partnering with advertisers that want to reach women 18 to 34 with disposable income are willing to pay to be a part of the show. Smart comedies have their own key demo, and it's typically affluent 18 to 34-year-olds. It seems like a target audience that a lot of advertisers could use.
One of the biggest hits of the last 25 years should provide all of the incentive any network needs to remember the importance of cultivating a show that is initially too hip for the audience. When Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David's show first started, it didn't have a suitable spot on the NBC schedule and bounced around. It wasn't until Seinfeld's third season that it really began to catch on with a bigger audience, and it wasn't until the fourth season that it was really a hit.
Seinfeld also produced shorter seasons its first two years, something that cable networks have now been doing successfully for a while now (and British television has always done). Networks have seemingly been more flexible with doing that with hour-long programming than with sitcoms, yet there's no reason that a 13-episode comedy can't work just as well if marketed properly. If networks can figure out a way to sell an audience on fantasy shows like Once Upon a Time or intricate dramas like The Blacklist, they should be able to figure out how to sustain smart comedies like Community and Happy Endings.
NBC Universal Media
Next fall, NBC will air The Biggest Loser to its Thursday night lineup, giving it the 8 PM slot. Once football season ends, the network will put its only true hit from this season, The Blacklist, at the 9 PM slot on Thursday. Why is any of that news? Because it means that for one of the few times since 1983, NBC will not air a block of sitcoms during the 8 - 10 PM timeslots.
NBC's Thursday nights has been the home to some of the biggest hits and most influential sitcoms in history, and while the network's programming strategy might make business sense it's hard not to feel a little sad at the end of what became one of the medium's few constants.
The Peacock first experimented with the idea of grouping sitcoms on Thursday during the 1983 - 84 season with a rotation of shows that included fare like Gimme a Break and We Got It Made… but it also included a pair of building blocks that would provide the basis for what was to come.
The following season in 1984, NBC debuted its first classic lineup on Thursdays with holdovers Cheers and Family Ties, paired with The Cosby Show and Night Court. The formula of two smart family sitcoms during the 8 - 9 PM hour and then two slightly more adult oriented sitcoms between 9 - 10 PM wasn't new — CBS did the same thing throughout much of the '70s — but the quality of the four shows was so good that it was hard for the grouping not to standout.
NBC's success on Thursdays — particularly with The Cosby Show, which at its peak was averaging nearly 30 million viewers a week — propelled the network to its first standalone win in the season ratings since Nielsen started keeping track in 1960.Cheers and The Cosby Show anchored the night for the rest of the decade until a little show about nothing came along to keep the ball rolling.
In its early days, Seinfeld bounced around the NBC schedule in search of a home, sometimes airing after Cheers. When the Ted Danson sitcom finally ended in 1993, however, Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David's creation was ready to take over.
Seinfeld and Friends
Seinfeld, Mad About You, and starting in 1994, Friends became "Must See TV." For most of the next decade, Friends and Seinfeld were such strong ratings winners that they could carry a variety of weaker shows (Caroline in the City, Suddenly Susan, Veronica's Closet, etc.) that followed them. The pair of New York-based sitcoms became so iconic that Friends generated a fashion sensation as women rushed to have their hair styled like Rachel and Seinfeld fans quoted the show so much that phrases like "Master of your domain" and "No soup for you!" became part of the cultural lexicon.
When Seinfeld called it quits, the Cheers spinoff Frasier moved back to Thursday to stabilize the night for a couple of seasons until suitable replacement could be found. NBC found that replacement when it turned to a show about a group of friends far different from Courteney Cox, Jennifer Aniston, Matthew Perry and company: as Friends started to wind-down, the night became the domain of Will & Grace. The sitcom about a gay man and his female best friend (Eric McCormack and Debra Messing), along with their two flakey cohorts (Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally), provided the network with another hit to build around.
Beginning of the End
When Friends came to a close, NBC's Thursday lineup went through a period of flux. The first signs of trouble began when Scrubs had difficulty finding a larger audience, despite being well received by critics. With ratings dropping, The Apprentice spent time in the 9 PM Thursday slot, as did Deal or No Deal.
The comedy lineup reemerged, however, in 2007 when Tina Fey's 30 Rock joined The Office, My Name Is Earl and Scrubs to form one more stellar block of sitcoms. By 2009, Community and Parks and Recreation had joined The Office and 30 Rock, but as smartly written as the group was, ratings never quite rebounded fully.
By this past season, when only Community and Parks remained and were grouped with the now canceled Welcome to the Family, Sean Saves the World, and The Michael J. Fox Show, the writing was on the wall. With not much more than The Big Bang Theory, CBS easily defeated NBC's offerings. With CBS' announcement that they would air NFL games on Thursdays in the fall, it became clear that NBC was going to have to counterprogram to keep from being trampled.
At some point, NBC lost its touch and patience for building sitcoms like Cheers, Seinfeld, and The Office... none of which was an immediate ratings success. That's too bad, but instead of lamenting the network's inability to come up with suitable sitcoms, it's better to sit back and marvel at the decades of comedy success that NBC managed to pull off. It was a heck of a run while it lasted.