Larry Wilmore on How He Landed The Nightly Report and What He Learned From Jon Stewart

January 24, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

When CBS tapped Stephen Colbert to succeed David Letterman as its Late Show host, many people assumed Larry Wilmore—The Daily Show's "senior black correspondent" since 2006 — would be a natural fit to take over Colbert's 11:30 p.m. Comedy Central slot. But not Wilmore himself. "I didn't think about it at all. I was working on the Black-ish pilot at the time, so my mind was trying to get that going," said Wilmore, who had signed on as showrunner for the ABC comedy (he previously created The PJs and The Bernie Mac Show). But his Daily Show boss, Jon Stewart, set his sights on Wilmore, and last May, Comedy Central announced that he would indeed step in for Colbert to host The Minority Show with Larry Wilmore. The title ended up being short-lived. Fox began developing a series based on the 2002 Tom Cruise sci-fi film Minority Report, which would have forced Wilmore to use his show's full name on all platforms. So in November, the program was retitled The Nightly Report with Larry Wilmore. What hasn't changed is the show's concept: a mix of Wilmore's unique comic voice and a panel discussion about the day's pertinent issues. "No one has taken the point of view of the underdog, which is my view of the world," he said. "And Jon's idea was to populate it with people who don't always get a shot in that landscape. So it's a combination of those two things." Before The Nightly Report's well-received debut Monday, Wilmore sat down to discuss his new show, its last-minute name change and how mastering social media can be even more daunting than replacing Colbert. Adweek: I understand why you had to lose The Minority Report, but how tough was it to make that title change so late in the game? Larry Wilmore: Well, we made the call on the field, so to speak, before it really got too late. Part of our constructing the show was understanding how the audience sees content these days. They see it through social platforms—Twitter, Facebook—so your show has to live in those environments. And it was becoming very difficult to operate in those environments and having to use The Minority Report with Larry Wilmore as a complete tag all the time. We were being confined legally by doing that in all forms of everything, and it was becoming a nightmare.

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Activist Ad Strips Away Redskins’ Logo to Show ‘It’s Still Washington Football’

January 23, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

When Washington's Robert Griffin III—RG3, to you—runs a 76-yard touchdown to the roaring applause of adoring fans, does it matter what's printed on his helmet? That's the question posed by a new ad from the National Congress of American Indians and the Oneida Indian Nation. In the spot, featuring real footage from a 2012 game against the Minnesota Vikings, the Redskins' name and logo have been removed from the play. "Take it away," says a title card that comes up over the cheering of Unnamed Team fans. "Take it away and it's still Washington football." The online-only ad from Goodness Mfg. is partof the NCAI's long campaign to compel Dan Snyder, owner of the Redskins, to change the team's name, arguing that the term's long history as an ethnic slur is reason enough to adopt a moniker that doesn't insult an entire ethnic group. Snyder has both combatively dug in his heels and offered his detractors odd olive branches, perhaps the strangest being the team's Washington Redskins Foundation for Original Americans. Snyder has vowed never to change the name. (Although he could always sell the team so someone else can do it. ) This Super Bowl is dogged by major PR problems for the NFL —between the controversy over Ray Rice's videotaped altercation with his fiancee and the league's subsequent coverup, Adrian Peterson's child-abuse allegations and smaller-scale controversies like #DeflateGate, football is in a certain amount of trouble.

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Conan Tours Taco Bell HQ, Visits the Test Kitchen and Ends Up Convulsing on the Floor

January 22, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

If you've ever seen late-night mastermind Conan O'Brien venture into the real world and interact with the commoners, you know you're in for a treat whenever it happens. Turns out the head of Conan's I.T. department, Chris Hayes, is a Taco Bell superfan, eating it at least three times a week. As Conan is a benevolent boss, he decides to make Mr. Hayes' dream come true and take him to Taco Bell headquarters in Irvine, Calif. We get an interesting glimpse behind the tortilla curtain, where we see how the magic happens. But more important, comedy ensues as Conan and Hayes rollick through the chalupa palace, interacting with food taste testers, trying new creations in the "Innovation Kitchen" as well as inventing new ones like Conan's Irish-inspired concoction, "The O'Taco." It's not all flattering to the brand, but it ends up putting the chain in a good light just because it's so entertainingly honest. So, sit back and enjoy this hilarious tour of Taco Bell HQ, with your guide, Conan O'Brien.

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FX Wants to be the ‘Best’ Channel on TV, Not the Highest-Rated One

January 21, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

FX is now the No. 4 cable network when it comes to 18- to 49-year-olds, up from sixth place a year ago. While many networks in its position would be gunning for the top spot, FX Networks CEO John Landgraf made an unusual proclamation at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour: He'd rather be the "best" channel on TV instead of the top-rated one. "Obviously we want as many people as possible to watch our shows, we want them to be as highly rated as possible, but there's quite a range [of ratings], and we can support that range," said Landgraf, referring to some of FX's critically acclaimed, but lower-rated, shows like Louie and The Americans. "We're not really a channel that's trying to be the highest-rated channel in television. We're trying as hard as we possibly can to be the best channel in television, whatever that means. If we weren't therefore supporting shows that would help us get there, just because [they weren't among the highest-rated], we'd be idiots." That said, Landgraf's patience does have its limits: The Bridge's declining Season 2 audience forced him to cancel the drama last fall, despite a creative resurgence. Landgraf noted that more than 1,700 original seasons of television aired in 2014, up from the 1,300-plus in 2013. Per FX's research department, 353 scripted original series aired last year on U.S. broadcast, basic and premium cable, and on over the top platforms like Netflix. The number of original scripted series on basic and pay cable in prime-time doubled in the past five years, from 91 to 180. "The amount of competition is just literally insane," Landgraf said. However, "the reality is there's a whole lot of shows on television that are probably relevant to almost no one." FX thinks it's solved the relevancy problem with shows that seem to be resonating. The network's research department compiled all 2014's Top 10 lists from TV critics, and found that FX lagged behind only HBO on the highest representation of shows by network (250 for HBO and 213 for FX, with AMC in third place with 74). At this point, Landgraf said, "the race for the best in TV is really only a competition between two channels: [HBO and FX.]" He also discussed FX's decision to experiment with shows that stray from typical episode and season lengths, explaining that while The Sopranos and other dramas changed the game, eventually their formats "started to feel like a box in some cases

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MTV Marks MLK Day by Airing in Black and White

January 18, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

For 12 hours starting at 9 a.m. this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Monday, Jan. 19), MTV will mark the civil rights leader's memory by airing in black and white. As part of its ongoing anti-bias campaign, Look Different, MTV will launch a new series of PSAs titled "The Talk" on MLK Day. The spots will run at the beginning of every ad pod throughout the day. They'll feature reflections on race from public figures, many of them people of color, including Kendrick Lamar, whose most recent album dropped to near-universal acclaim; and Ava DuVernay and David Oyelowo, both widely praised (though snubbed by the Academy) for respectively directing and starring in MLK biopic Selma. "Millennials believe strongly in fairness, but they can also find it difficult to talk openly about race—to be not simply 'color blind' but 'color brave,'" said Stephen Friedman, president of MTV.

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A Humbled Fox Seeks to Change Its Fortunes

January 18, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

The last time Fox was at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour, then-chief Kevin Reilly declared that pilot season was dead (which topped my list of the most ridiculous statements network presidents said last year). Well, Reilly stepped down last May, pilot season is alive and well, and a

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Resurgent NBC Sets Sights on Two Remaining Weak Spots: Thursdays and Comedies

January 18, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

When NBC entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt started at the network in 2011, things looked bleak. NBC has now clawed its way back to first place in the 18-49 demographic, thanks to Sunday Night Football, The Voice and hits like The Blacklist. But the entertainment chairman knows his network still has two big problems to fix if it wants to remain on top: addressing the network's comedy woes and restoring luster to Thursday night, which has gone from Must-See TV to Barely Seen TV. "I think we're moving along nicely, but it's far from a done deal. We're in much better shape than we were two years ago, but we still have a lot of row to hoe," Greenblatt said at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour this week. At the top of his list: shoring up his comedy development. "We are really challenged by the comedy brand that we're trying to build on this network," said Greenblatt, who is going away from single-camera sitcoms (he already gave the network's single-cam Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt to Netflix, to the delight of creator Tina Fey ) and back to multi-cam shows, including One Big Happy, debuting March 17. "Some of the best shows on NBC in its history were multi-cams." While the refocus on comedy will take months or years to bear fruit, NBC is taking more immediate steps to save Thursdays, which "used to be the big night of television for NBC," Greenblatt said. "It's an important night for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is it is a great, desirable night for advertising." But the network has languished on the night with low-rated, quickly canceled comedies like The Michael J. Fox Show and this season's Bad Judge and A to Z .

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Resurgent NBC Sets Sights on Two Remaining Weak Spots: Thursdays and Comedies

January 18, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

When NBC entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt started at the network in 2011, things looked bleak. NBC has now clawed its way back to first place in the 18-49 demographic, thanks to Sunday Night Football, The Voice and hits like The Blacklist. But the entertainment chairman knows his network still has two big problems to fix if it wants to remain on top: addressing the network's comedy woes and restoring luster to Thursday night, which has gone from Must-See TV to Barely Seen TV. "I think we're moving along nicely, but it's far from a done deal. We're in much better shape than we were two years ago, but we still have a lot of row to hoe," Greenblatt said at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour this week. At the top of his list: shoring up his comedy development. "We are really challenged by the comedy brand that we're trying to build on this network," said Greenblatt, who is going away from single-camera sitcoms (he already gave the network's single-cam Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt to Netflix, to the delight of creator Tina Fey ) and back to multi-cam shows, including One Big Happy, debuting March 17. "Some of the best shows on NBC in its history were multi-cams." While the refocus on comedy will take months or years to bear fruit, NBC is taking more immediate steps to save Thursdays, which "used to be the big night of television for NBC," Greenblatt said. "It's an important night for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is it is a great, desirable night for advertising." But the network has languished on the night with low-rated, quickly canceled comedies like The Michael J. Fox Show and this season's Bad Judge and A to Z . "Putting comedies we love there and having them fail started to feel like the definition of insanity," said entertainment president Jennifer Salke. Instead, Greenblatt is making a bold but perilous gamble, moving his biggest scripted series, The Blacklist, to Thursdays at 9 p.m., where it will face-off against Scandal on ABC beginning Feb. 5. "It's a risky but necessary move for us to make," said Greeblatt, who pointed to other big Thursday-night shifts that seemed potentially disastrous at the time but paid off, including Fox's The Simpsons, CBS' CSI and most recently Grey's Anatomy, which laid the groundwork for ABC's TGIT. "The only way to really reinvigorate that night is to jumpstart it with something like The Blacklist," Greenblatt said. "If you don't start that move at some point, you'll never get there." Looking beyond those two giant holes, Greenblatt announced several projects with big-name stars. He has given a 13-episode series order to Telenovela, a Soapdish -like comedy about a diva star (played by Eva Longoria, who will also produce) that is set behind the scenes of a telenovela production. And Jennifer Lopez will star in a new drama, Shades of Blue, about a single mom and detective who is recruited to work undercover for FBI's anti-corruption task force.

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Resurgent NBC Sets Sights on Two Remaining Weak Spots: Thursdays and Comedies

January 18, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

When NBC entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt started at the network in 2011, things looked bleak. NBC has now clawed its way back to first place in the 18-49 demographic, thanks to Sunday Night Football, The Voice and hits like The Blacklist. But the entertainment chairman knows his network still has two big problems to fix if it wants to remain on top: addressing the network's comedy woes and restoring luster to Thursday night, which has gone from Must-See TV to Barely Seen TV. "I think we're moving along nicely, but it's far from a done deal. We're in much better shape than we were two years ago, but we still have a lot of row to hoe," Greenblatt said at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour this week. At the top of his list: shoring up his comedy development. "We are really challenged by the comedy brand that we're trying to build on this network," said Greenblatt, who is going away from single-camera sitcoms (he already gave the network's single-cam Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt to Netflix, to the delight of creator Tina Fey ) and back to multi-cam shows, including One Big Happy, debuting March 17. "Some of the best shows on NBC in its history were multi-cams." While the refocus on comedy will take months or years to bear fruit, NBC is taking more immediate steps to save Thursdays, which "used to be the big night of television for NBC," Greenblatt said. "It's an important night for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is it is a great, desirable night for advertising." But the network has languished on the night with low-rated, quickly canceled comedies like The Michael J. Fox Show and this season's Bad Judge and A to Z .

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From USA to Bravo, NBCUniversal’s Cable Channels are in Transition

January 18, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

As NBC proper continues to build momentum—attracting more viewers ages 18 to 49 than any other broadcast network—many of parent

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