02/13/15: Legendary CBS News correspondent Bob Simon dead at 73; AMC Networks merges ad sales at AMC and Sundance TV; Fox’s Empire strikes again


Good morning. It’s Friday, February 13, 2015, and this is your first early morning briefing.

Tonight’s Premieres:
Disney and Disney XD: Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero at 9:45p
Saturday’s Premieres:
A&E: Sexy Beasts at 10p
Animal Planet: Animals in Love at 9p

Sunday’s Premieres:
Disney: I Didn’t Do It at 9p
Nat Geo: Wicked Tuna at 9p
Nat Geo Wild: Wild Australia at 9p
Travel: 101 Sand n’ Surf Hotspots at 7p, SI: The Making of Swimsuit at 9p, Marianela’s Best Beaches at 11p

Sunday’s Finales:
CBS: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation at 10p
Food: Worst Cooks in America at 9p
Fox: Mulaney at 7p

Monday’s Premieres:
AHC: Codes and Conspiracies at 10p
BET: The Book of Negroes at 8p
Smithsonian: Mississippi Inferno at 8p
Univision: La Sombra del Pasado at 7p

Monday’s Finales:
NBC: Celebrity Apprentice at 8p, State of Affairs at 10p

Longtime 60 Minutes correspondent Bob Simon died after a car accident in New York City on February 11, a passenger in a taxi that was rear-ended by another vehicle. He was 73. During his 47 years with CBS, Simon won over 40 major awards, including 27 Emmys and 4 Peabodys. “It’s a terrible loss for all of us at CBS News,” 60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager said in a statement. “It is such a tragedy made worse because we lost him in a car accident, a man who has escaped more difficult situations than almost any journalist in modern times. Bob was a reporter’s reporter. He was driven by a natural curiosity that took him all over the world covering every kind of story imaginable.”


Al-Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahy and Baher Mohomed have been released from prison in Cairo as they await a new hearing on charges of aiding terrorist actions. Peter Greste, arrested with them in December 2013, was released and deported on February 1. “Bail is a small step in the right direction, and allows Baher and Mohamed to spend time with their families after 411 days apart,” said Al-Zazeera. “The focus though is still on the court reaching the correct verdict at the next hearing by dismissing this absurd case and releasing both these fine journalists unconditionally.”

CBS has moved development for first-run syndication into its daytime programming operation. Angelica McDaniel, head of daytime, adds development for all first-run programming for CBS Television Distribution to her purview, including talk, court, newsmagazine and game shows. “This move will combine creative resources and increase synergies with the most successful daytime programming operation in television,” said Armando Nunez, president and CEO of CBS Global Distribution Group.“It is a structure that works creatively and financially for the Company, and most importantly, it will effectively serve our owned stations, and all of our broadcast clients across the country.”CTD’s current president of creative affairs Hilary Estey McLoughlin will segue into a production deal with CBS Television Distribution.

AMC Networks is also doing some restructuring, merging the ad sales departments of AMC and Sundance TV. The new department will report to SVP of ad sales Marc Krok; former SVP of ad sales for Sundance TV Todd Schwartzman takes that title to BBC America. “This realignment allows us to better utilize the top tier talent we have across our sales organization while creating efficiencies for our advertising partners,” said Arlene Manos, president, national ad sales at AMC Networks.

Fusion, a joint venture between Univision Communications and Disney/ABC Televsion, is launching a one-hour edition of ABC NewsNightline. The weekly show will feature stories from the ABC late nighter that will resonate with a Millennial audience, as well as fresh Fusion content. Show premieres Wednesday, February 18 at 8p, hosted by ABC News’ Gio Benitez and Fusion’s Kimberly Brooks.

Rosie O’Donnell said her goodbyes on ABC’s The View Thursday, with special words for “amazing” Barbara Walters. “I want to thank her for making this show and letting me be on it – twice,” said O’Donnell, exiting after six months in the co-host’s seat to deal with what she described as stress in her personal life. O’Donnell’s first tenure ended in 2007.

Turner’s live coverage of NBA All-Star 2015 in New York includes content for the kids, who will be able to send questions, via video, to their favorite NBA stars. Some of the Q&As will be featured within Cartoon Network’s on-air integrations throughout NBA All-Star Weekend leading up to Sunday’s game, February 15 at 8p on TNT and TBS.

USA is teaming with live game and entertainment company Escape the Room to promote upcoming event series Dig. A show-themed edition of Escape the Room in New York, Boston, Philadelphia and the Universal theme parks in Hollywood and Orlando will challenge game enthusiasts with solving riddles, cracking codes and analyzing artifacts. Series stars including Anne Heche (Save Me) and Jason Isaacs (Awake) will be on hand to kick off activation, beginning with the NYC launch on February 26. Dig premieres Thursday, March 5 at 10p.

A recent Harris Poll surveyed viewers about their favorite shows, and while most were in line with Nielsen ratings (NCIS, The Big Bang Theory), HBO’s Game of Thrones – available in only one third of the country – was number five. Should that have come as a surprise? “I don’t think Game of Thrones’ performance necessarily surprised anyone due to its strong fan engagement, typically characterized by the volume and pitch of discussion that ignites when the show has new episodes in circulation,” Larry Shannon-Missal, Harris Poll managing editor, tells Cynopsis. “We were interested in seeing whether the shows drawing the most fan viewership are in line with or diverging from those driving the most fan passion, and based on the results I think that ultimately the answer is ‘yes’ – to both.”

Regional news net necn, owned by NBCUniversal, unveiled its new studio to viewers, part of a revitalization that has included boosting live coverage, a new news management team, upgraded technology and new graphics.


2015 Cynopsis Top Women in Digital
Honoring those who excel in digital content, marketing, advertising, social media, and online

Final Deadline: Today, February 13, 2015 at 11:59pm!

Visit our website for additional information on:
Who Should Enter, How to Enter, Eligibility Period, Categories, Deadlines, Sponsorship Opportunities, Contact Information and FAQ’s.


A+E Networks Asia gave the green light to a pan-regional Asian version of reality cooking format MasterChef. Endemol Southeast Asia will produce 15 episodes, to debut on Lifetime later this year. Calling it “an important milestone for A+E Networks Asia,” Prem Kamath, deputy managing director, Asia-Pacific, A+E Networks said, “The series is our most significant local commission to date and is a sign of our commitment to the Asian production community.”

FremantleMedia, aiming to “build its scripted pipeline with projects that will have an epic and cinematic feel and attract international co-production funding,” announced it is taking a 25 percent stake in Corona TV. The deal gives FremantleMedia a first look option on all Corona TV output.

Exorcism drama Outcast has been picked up to series at Cinemax. Show is based on a Skybound comic title by creator Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead) and artist Paul Azaceta.

Join us at the Cynopsis Social Good Awards Breakfast on March 3rd at the Yale Club NYC to celebrate all of this year’s finalists. For the finalist list and event information, go here.

A pilot for The Grinder, a comedy starring Rob Lowe as an actor who returns home after his long-running hit show ends, got the green light from Fox. Lowe will exec produce with director Jake Kasdan (New Girl), writers Jarrad Paul and Andrew Mogel (The D Train) and Nicholas Stoller (Neighbors).


Ready, set…swing? A&E’s Neighbors with Benefits follows a community in Ohio where couples are extra-“friendly” with each other – but according to Shelly Tatro, SVP, development and programming, the practice isn’t as out-there as you might think. “Swinging is certainly going on behind many closed doors in America,” Tatro tells Cynopsis. “We’re excited to give viewers a peek inside this growing subculture. The show features average married couples who on the surface appear to be living regular lives with their families, while participating in this alternative lifestyle on the side.” Docu-series from Haymaker launches Sunday, March 22 at 10p.

Hallmark’s “Countdown to Valentine’s Day” event concludes with All of My Heart, starring Lacey Chabert and Ed Asner, on Saturday, February 14 at 8p. The next night, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries premieres A Gift of Miracles, with Rita Moreno, at 9p.

Lady Gaga will take to the stage at the Oscars for the first time, in a special tribute performance. Added to the list of presenters: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Chris Evans, Dakota Johnson, Jennifer Lopez, Chloe Grace Moretz, Eddie Murphy and Margot Robbie. Awards air Sunday, February 22 on ABC.

TLC offers romance with a twist on Strange Love, premiering Wednesday, March 4 at 10p. Among those featured on the Thinkfactory Media series: a woman with hair measuring fifty feet who’s married to a hairdresser, and another with a 15-inch waist achieved with corsets and an assist from her orthopedic surgeon husband.

Sprout launches new original series Ruff-Ruff, Tweet & Dave with back-to-back episodes Saturday, February 14 at 11a during The Sunny Side Up Show. Starting Monday, February 16, the full CGI series featuring a bird, a pup and a panda will air seven days a week, at 11a followed by a second episode at 7p.
A finale special for Weather Channel’s Prospectors offers dirt on the diggers. Prospectors Season 3 Special: Jackpot includes behind-the-scenes footage and candid confessions Sunday, February 15 at 9p.


TNT gave the order for a 10-ep season two of The Librarians, the number two new series on basic cable (after the net’s The Last Ship). The drama averaged 11.4 million viewers per episode in multi-platform viewing.

The sixth go-round of TLC’s Long Island Medium debuts Sunday, March 8 at 9p, with a one-hour premiere focused on Theresa Caputo’s 25th wedding anniversary. The season will offer deeper insights into Theresa’s process, as well as interviews with winners from last season’s “Knock and Shock” stunt.

Banshee was picked up for season four by Cinemax. Season three of the drama starring Anthony Starr airs Fridays at 10p.

It’s not exactly “returning” because it hasn’t even launched yet, but…Disney XD ordered a second season of Star Vs. the Forces of Evil, ahead of its season one premiere Monday, March 30 at 8p. A preview episode of the animated show will be available on WATCH Disney XD on Monday, February 23.


Bresha Webb (Love That Girl!) landed a lead role opposite comedian Tone Bell in NBC comedy pilot People Are Talking.

TNT pilot Breed adds Shaun Majumder (Detroit 187) to the cast. Thriller follows a series of brutal murders in the Pacific Northwest.

Vanessa Williams (Desperate Housewives) will star opposite Kevin Connolly (Entourage) as his boss in Fox pilot Fantasy Life, about a man who lands a job hosting a fantasy football show.

Eric McCormack, fresh off of TNT’s Perception, will star in Fox pilot Studio City, about a young singer who lives with her songwriter/drug dealer dad.

Drea de Matteo (Sons of Anarchy) will play a villainous “Gifted” woman with a grudge on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. when the ABC superhero series returns Tuesday, March 3 at 9p.


Arby’s, longtime target of Jon Stewart, put itself in the line of fire – and set itself up for free publicity, of the “there’s no such thing as bad” variety – after the Daily Show host announced on Tuesday he was leaving. The food chain tweeted, “feel free to reach out to us at careers@arbys.com,” to which Stewart replied, “Would I have to handle, serve, touch, eat or even look at what you so generously describe as food?…We shall always be enemies!”

Competing brands Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo, P&G and Unilever and Allstate and State Farm are teaming for a campaign to promote diversity and inclusion. They join the Ad Council and non-profit organizations for public service effort “Love Has No Labels,” encouraging people to examine unconscious biases. Brands will replace their social media profile pics with the “Love Has No Labels” icon and distribute content across their channels; PSAs will be distributed to media outlets in March. Partner companies were identified based on their commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion.


The Africa Channel is broadcasting two Voice of America-produced series that explore news and issues from the African continent: Africa 54 airs weekdays at 7:30p, and Straight Talk Africa is set for Saturdays at 8a. The partnership includes cooperation in other areas of content development and production, including licensing of The Africa Channel content to Voice of America for their Africa broadcasting service.


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Empire did it again. Ratings in the A18-49 demo for Fox’s freshman drama rose for the fifth consecutive week since its January 7 launch, up two tenths to hit 4.8/15 on Wednesday. Lead-in American Idol took a three tenths dip from the week prior, to 2.8/9.

The 46th NAACP Image Awards was the number one Friday Primetime telecast in TV One history among Total Households (596,000), F25-54 (234,000), P18-49 (317,000), F18-49 (209,000) and Viewers 2+ (790,000), while a sneak peek airing of Born Again Virgin was the second most-watched original series telecast among total viewers (419,000). The good news spilled into Saturday, with the premiere of White Water as the net’s most-watched original move premiere ever among total viewers (494,000), and the number two most-watched telecast among total viewers, behind the NAACP Awards.

The City of Angels blessed The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon its highest-rated week among A18-49 since June 2014. The week of February 2, the late night talker earned an average 1.22/6. For the show’s four LA-based originals the number was even better: 1.29, the best since March.

Destination America recorded its best January ever in Prime HH delivery with premieres of Impact Wrestling.The launch on Wednesday, January 7, with Impact Wrestling LIVE, ranked as DA’s best Wednesday evening in network history for delivery of M25-54.Throughout the month, the show delivered an average 276,000 viewers among P25-54.

Sunday Morning News Shows February 8, 2015
CBS: Face the Nation 3.79 million total viewers; .7/890,000A25-54
NBC: Meet the Press 2.92 million total viewers; .7/854,000 A25-54
ABC: This Week 2.8 million total viewers; .8/904,000 A25-54
CBS: Face the Nation-2 2.09 million total viewers; .5/622,000 A25-54
FOX: Fox News Sunday 1.24 million total viewers; .3/371,000 A25-54
Source: Nielsen, NTI Total Viewers and A25-54 Live+SD

Broadcast Morning Shows Weekly Average Ratings (week of February 2, 2015)
ABC: GMA5.65 million total viewers; 1.8/14 and 2.1 million A25-54
NBC: Today5.19 million total viewers; 1.7/13 and 2.01 million A25-54
CBS This Morning 3.36 million total viewers; .9/7 and 1.13 million A25-54
Source: The Nielsen Company, NTI Total Viewers and A25-54 Live+SD

Late Night Talk Shows Weekly Average Ratings (week of February 2, 2015)
NBC: The Tonight Show 4.19 million total viewers; 1.2/6 A18-49
CBS Late Show 2.84 million total viewers, .5/3 A18-49
ABC: Jimmy Kimmel Live2.61 million total viewers; .6/3 A18-49
Source: The Nielsen Company, NTI Total Viewers and A18-49 Live+SD

Wednesday A18-49 Analysis: FOX won the most A18-49 viewers Thursday with 3.8/12, according to Nielsen. Fox was first at 8p with 2.8/9 for American Idol, followed by a 2.2/7 average for ABC’s The Middle and The Goldbergs. Fox’s Empire topped 9p with 4.8/15, versus a 2.7/8 average for ABC’s Modern Family and black-ish. Tied for first at 10p were CBS’s Stalker, ABC’s Nashville and NBC’s Chicago PD, all with 1.4/5.

A18-49: FOX 3.8/12, ABC 2.1/7, CBS 1.6/5, NBC 1.3/4, UNI 1.2/4, CW .8/3, TELE .6/2, ION .2/1

Live + Same Day Household Ratings: February 11, 2015 – time period averages. Source: NTI, Galaxy as dated. Live+SD.
FOX: 6.8/11
American Idol 6.3/11, Empire 7.4/12
CBS: 5.6/10
The Mentalist 5.7/10, Criminal Minds 6.2/10, Stalker 5.0/9
ABC: 4.4/7
The Middle 4.8/8, The Goldbergs 4.2/7, Modern Family 5.9/10, black-ish 4.3/7, Nashville 3.6/6
NBC: 4.0/7
Mysteries of Laura 3.9/6, Law and Order: SVU 3.9/6, Chicago PD 4.2/8
Mi Corazon Es Tuyo 1.7/3, Hasta Fin del Mundo 1.7/3, Que te Perdone Dios…Yo No 1.5/3
CW: 1.3/2
Arrow 1.6/3, The Hundred .9/1
TELE: .8/1
Los Miserables .8/1, Tierra de Reyes .7/1, Duenos del Paraiso 1.0/2
ION: .7/1
Cold Case .7/1, Cold Case .6/1, Cold Case .8/1


Jerry Leo was promoted to Executive Vice President, Program Strategy, Lifestyle Networks & Production at Bravo Media, adding responsibility for E! and Esquire to his duties at Bravo and Oxygen.

Univision Communications elevated Sandra Smester to the position of Executive Vice President of Programming for Univision Network. Smester joined Univision as an intern in 1998.

Univision News upped Daniel Coronell to Executive Vice President and Executive Director of News. Previously, Coronell was Senior Vice President and Executive News Director.


Webinar: Generation Edge – Catching the New Wave of Viewers
Thursday, February 26, 2015 | 1:30PM to 3:00PM | Register Today

Featured Panelists:
Andrea Russett,
Gen Edger, YouTube Star + Twitter Influencer
Morgan Aceino, Senior Brand Strategist, Omelet
Bill Carter, Partner, Fuse Marketing
Robert O’Neill, Vice President, Programming & Promotion Strategy, Comedy Central

Friday Fun Fact: People who grew up watching black and white television often dream in black and white.

This Day in History: 1635 – The first public school was founded in what is now the U.S.

Answer to Our Last Trivia Question: In a week Brian Williams was suspended without pay, and Jon Stewart announces he’s leaving The Daily Show, we have to ask: Why was former Daily Show anchor Craig Kilborn suspended without pay in 1997? Kilborn made disparaging remarks about female staffers in an interview in Esquire magazine. Kudos to: Robert Owen-Millenia 3 Television/Atlanta, Gerry Bixenspan-TV Marketing Inc./NYC, Laurie Ulster-The Chefs Connection/NYC, Denise Perry-Cox Media/Macon, GA, Malachy G. Wienges-Sedona Broadcasting Company/Sedona, AZ, Aaron Paquette-Vision Critical/Fort Worth, TX, David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA/LA, Daniel Haberer-Creo Entertainment/Playa del Rey, CA, Lorrie Shilling/El Segundo, CA, Steven Wishnoff-Borgasmord Productions/LA.

Today’s Trivia Question: Which broadcast news anchor team’s theme music was Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony? (Email trivia@cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company, city and time zone. Unofficial rules: Only the second four correct answers from each time zone will be mentioned; and once you’ve been mentioned in any of the Cynopsis editions, you can’t be mentioned again that calendar week.).
Keep Watching & Reading,
Lynn Leahey

Roberta Caploe: Editorial Director @robertacaploe
Diane K Schwartz: Senior Vice President, Media Communications Group 

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ABC: Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown, Shark Tank, 20/20 [r]
CBS: Undercover Boss, Hawaii Five-0, Blue Bloods
CW: Safety Not Guaranteed [r]
NBC: Constantine, Grimm, Dateline NBC
PBS: Washington Week, Charlie Rose, Shakespeare Uncovered, Shakespeare Uncovered
Telemundo: Los Miserables, Tierra de Reyes, Duenos del Paraiso
Univision: Mi Corazon Es Tuyo, Hasta el Fin del Mundo, Que te Perdone Dios…Yo No

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