“The View” Launches 18th Season with New Co-Hosts

For the First Time, Barbara Walters Will Not Host

On September 15, 2014, the 18th season of “The View” will premiere on ABC.  The talk show has been on the air since 1997, when it was first conceived by Barbara Walters and Bill Geddie.  Over the course of these years, many different hosts have come and gone, but the departure marked by this season is unprecedented.  First of all, at the end of last season, Barbara Walters stepped down as co-host after seventeen years, and also Bill Geddie stepped down as executive producer.  Though Walters has stayed on as co-executive producer now with Bill Wolff, she has retired from regular onscreen appearances.  Furthermore, an additional two of the co-hosts – Sherri Shepherd and Jenny McCarthy – were asked to step down as well.  Therefore, the only incumbent host this season is Whoopi Goldberg, and she is joined by Rosie O’Donnell, Rosie Perez, and Nicolle Wallace.

Rosie O’Donnell Steps Up to the Mantle

whoopi goldberg rosie odonnellAt the end of last season, there was a lot of speculation that “The View” was taking on too many changes.  Many fans were vocally upset about the firing of hosts Shepherd and McCarthy, not to mention Walters’ departure.  However, it appears that ABC has gotten all of its ducks in a row, with a new batch of exciting co-hosts.  In July, it was announced that Rosie O’Donnell would be joining Whoopi Goldberg for the upcoming season.  After earning two Emmy’s for her own talk show “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” that ran from 1996 to 2002, O’Donnell served as co-host on “The View” for just one season, from 2006-7.  In 2007, she had already decided not to renew her contract when she got into a very controversial argument with that season’s co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck about the Iraq War.  That episode went viral, and it became clear that O’Donnell’s controversial opinions boosted ratings for “The View,” though she pledged never to return to the show.  Following that stint, O’Donnell had her own talk show “The Rosie Show” on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network in 2011, but that was a quick flop.  Nevertheless, O’Donnell’s stature as a beloved household name remains uncontested.

The New “View”

In 2014, O’Donnell reappeared as a guest host on the view on two occasions: once in February, and then again in the group farewellrosie perez nicolle wallace episode to Barbara Walters.  Now returning as full-time co-host, Rosie has pledged to make the show smarter.  She will ensure they first present an objective view of the conversation topic, so the discussion can evolve beyond the givens.  Not only is “The View” getting a serious makeover for the launch of this season, but O’Donnell herself has undergone significant personal changes prior to coming on board.  She underwent weight loss surgery in 2013, and recently appeared on the cover of “Variety” flaunting her new slimmer figure.  Before being given the position, O’Donnell had to do a chemistry test with Whoopi Goldberg, to both of their surprise; of course they passed.  The same test was required for the ladies competing for the final two co-host slots, and the winners were Rosie Perez and Nicolle Wallace.  Perez is an actress and choreographer who has been nominated for an Academy Award, and who will also be appearing on Broadway this spring in Larry David’s Fish in the Dark.  Wallace is a Republican PR vet and political commentator, who held the position of White House communications director under President George W. Bush.  These two women are sure to balance out the dynamic in exciting ways.

“The View” Basics

“The View” airs live from New York City at 11:00am on weekdays.  It is aired at 10:00am in the Central time zone, and is tape-delayed for other time zones.  Furthermore, the show airs internationally in various countries.  In addition to new co-hosts, the 18th season also marks a new location for filming: the ABC Broadcast Center on West 67th Street which formerly housed the now cancelled show “Katie.”  The format of the show involves the generally female co-hosts discussing current events and news, including politics, celebrity gossip, and social issues.  Starting in the 15th season, Barbara Walters would take off each week on Friday when a male guest host would come on; this was called “Guy Day” Friday.  Still, the show is heavily geared towards expressing the female viewpoint, but from women with a range of backgrounds.

The Meredith Vieira Show Premieres This Fall

NBC Universal Grants Vieira Her Own TV Show – Premieres on August 25, 2014

the meredith vieira showMeredith Vieira, who won over the hearts of Americans by hosting Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? for eleven seasons, in addition to her many other television talk show appearances, has finally earned her own show. The Meredith Vieira Show will premiere on Monday, August 25, 2014 produced by NBCUniversal and airing in syndication. The show will be filmed in New York City’s world famous 30 Rockefeller Plaza with a live studio audience. This daytime talk show will have six episodes a week, with tapings taking place twice a day every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday at 10:00am and 3:00pm. The producers of The Meredith Vieira Show are inviting audience members to attend this exciting premiere taping on August 25th free of charge! The show will feature celebrity guests, interactive games, human interest stories, and a slew of other surprises, and free tickets can be acquired by phone or online, by calling 212-664-3056, or by visiting the website www.meredithvieirashow.com/tickets.

Viera’s Incredible Career Escalation: News Announcer, 60 Minutes, Millionaire and The View

Vieira’s career began in the mid-1970s as a radio news announcer in Worcester, Massachusetts. She entered the realm of television first in Providence, and then in New York City serving as an investigative reporter at WCBS-TV from 1979 to 1982. Until 1984, she served in Chicago as a reporter for CBS; this is where she first gained national recognition. From 1985 to 1993, she was a correspondent for nationwide news shows including West 57th, 60 Minutes, and finally as co-anchor for CBS Morning News. In 1994, Vieira transitioned from CBS to ABC, first as a regular correspondent for the ABC show Turning Point. Meanwhile, she also hosted the Lifetime channel’s show Intimate Portrait from 1995 to 2004. When The View debuted in 1997, Vieira was its original moderator and co-host, a position she held until June 2006.

the meredith vieira show

In 2002, Meredith Vieira took over Regis Philbin’s position as host of the renowned show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Upon her takeover, the show transitioned from being aired only on ABC to being nationally syndicated. In January 2013, after eleven seasons, Vieira announced that she would be leaving Millionaire after filming over 1,800 episodes and awarding contestants over $70,000,000.00. Meanwhile, upon departing The View in 2006, Vieira accepted the position of succeeding Katie Couric as co-anchor on the NBC show Today. Her contract stipulated that she would not appear on Today for any hours that conflicted with Millionaire; as such, she rarely appeared in the third or fourth hours of the show. She remained in her position on Today until 2011. In 2012, Vieira co-hosted the NBC coverage of the London Summer Olympic Games, and for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, she became the first woman to be a solo anchor NBC’s coverage of the Olympics.

The Meredith Vieira Show

Now with the premiere of The Meredith Vieira Show, her career has reached a new height. Distributed by NBCUniversal, the Meredith-viera-350x265show has already been sold to 98% of the United States, and it has also been picked up by CTV in Canada. The show’s band leader will be Everett Bradley, who tours with Bruce Springsteen’s legendary E Street Band. Furthermore, Jon Harris, a close friend of Meredith and her husband Richard, will be the show’s announcer. Harris has had a long career serving as the lead spokesperson for global companies such as the Hillshire Brands Company. It has also been announced that Geoff Rosen and Matthew Strauss will be the show’s co-executive producers, and that Benita Alexander, Angela LaGreca, and Leslie Peirez will be the show’s supervising producers.

Free Tickets To The Show

Free tickets to the premiere of The Meredith Vieira Show taping on August 25th at Studio 6A of 30 Rockefeller Plaza (on West 49th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues) are available by requesting at www.meredithvieirashow.com/tickets/ or by calling 212-664-3056. Individuals can book up to four tickets, and there are also group options available.

Cedric the Entertainer Quits “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” Upon Its Move to Connecticut

cedric-who-wants-to-be-a-millionaireTerry Crews Is The New Host

The wildly successful game show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? has been running since 1999.  For the past year, it has been hosted by Cedric the Entertainer, the American actor and comedian.  However, this stint as host will not continue past the 2013 to 2014 season.  Upon the show’s decision to move its production headquarters to Stamford, Connecticut (about one hour from New York City), he decided that he could not fit the hosting gig into his busy schedule.  As Cedric is simultaneously involved in many television and film projects, he often needs to travel around the country, and the distance between Stamford and New York City made the difference in his ability to commit to the role.  In early May 2014, Disney-ABC (which distributes the show) announced that the new host will be Former NFL Player Terry Crews, also known for his role on the Fox sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

A Long-Running Hit Show

The format of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? involves choosing an audience member by asking the whole audience a game question, and then offering a maximum prize of $1,000,000 to that person who must correctly answer a series of multiple choice questions.  The questions are of increasing complexity, and the contestant is allowed to use a series of lifelines to help them, including Ask the Audience, Phone a Friend, 50:50 (eliminating half the answers), Plus One (bringing up a friend to help answer), and Crystal Ball (showing the money value of a round one question).  In the show’s original format, it was aired by ABC and hosted by Regis Philbin.  Starting in 2002, it became syndicated and was hosted by Meredith Vieira.  Meredith had a very successful run, continuing as host until 2013, when she left to focus on other projects in her career.  Upon her departure, Cedric the Entertainer took over the position.  Little did anyone suspect that he would only last for one year.

A Win For Connecticut

From 1999 to 2012, the game show was taped at ABC’s Television Center East studio in the Upper West Side of Manhattan, on West 67th Street.  In 2013, the show was moved to NEP Broadcasting’s Metropolis Studios, located further uptown in East Harlem at East 106th Street.  Millionaire’s decision to move its facilities to Connecticut’s Gold Coast will create 150 more jobs in the area.  Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy has been working to rebuild the state’s television and digital media industry, and this is a major success in that regard.  Since 2006, the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development has issued $365 million in tax credits, which amounts to $1.2 billion dollars of expenditures in film, television, and media production.  This Digital Media and Motion Picture Tax Credit Program may be a major reason why Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? chose to move its production to Stamford, Connecticut.  Another example of a major network taking advantage of this credit program is ESPN, which opened Digital Center 2, a state-of-the-art digital production center for its SportsCenter franchise in July 2014.

The Escalating Career of Terry Crews

Over the course of his football career, Terry Crews played for the Los Angeles Rams, the San Diego Chargers, the Washington terry crews who wants to be a millionaireRedskins, and the Philadelphia Eagles.  Since transitioning into the entertainment industry, he has become very well known for his roles on Arrested Development, The Newsroom, Everybody Hates Chris, Are We There Yet?, as well as a series of Old Spice commercials.  Over the past few months, several networks have been competing to get Crews on board for a long-term commitment.  The taping schedule of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? will be arranged so as not to conflict with his schedule for Brooklyn Nine Nine.  Once that comedy concludes its run, ABC hinted they may give Crews an even bigger hosting job than Millionaire.

“The View” Fires Co-Hosts Sherri Shepherd and Jenny McCarthy

Whoopi Goldberg Remains As Sole Co-Host For Now

When Barbara Walters retired from her onscreen position on ABC’s The View on May 16, 2014, questions were circulating about who would replace her among the four co-hosts.  Just over one month later, two more co-hosts have left the show, but this time not of their own choice.  Sherri Shepherd and Jenny McCarthy will be leaving the daytime talk show at the end of Season 17, which runs through the first complete week in August.  Whereas Shepherd has been on the show for seven seasons, McCarthy is a newer addition, having joined this past September upon the departure of Joy Behar and Elisabeth Hasslebeck.  At this point, the only remaining co-host of The View is Whoopi Goldberg.  As The View has always been defined by its four powerful female co-hosts, this puts the entire show’s existence into question.

jenny mccarthy sherri shepherdMixed Justifications By ABC For The Firings

According to a TMZ exclusive story, ABC network executives had a meeting last Thursday afternoon, during which it was decided that Shepherd and McCarthy would not be returning to the show.  The reason for these firings is not quite clear.  As for Shepherd, some sources believe that the beginning of the end was when she disagreed with Barbara Walters for supporting Woody Allen in light of his daughter Dylan Farrow’s accusations of sexual assault.  According to People Magazine, however, the decision was made following a failure by Shepherd and her representatives to reach an agreement on a new deal with ABC.  As for McCarthy, TMZ claims that The View has been in turmoil ever since she joined the show, and many fans comments expressed gratitude for the announcement of her departure, proving she was not a very popular member of the team.  The official report, according to People Magazine, is that McCarthy is being let go due to a decision to take the show in a new creative direction.

Shepherd and McCarthy Told The World Through Their Twitter Feeds

On Thursday, Shepherd made her own public announcement via twitter, stating that the number 7 is God’s number, and therefore she is leaving the show after 7 seasons.  She also expressed gratitude to everyone for their support, and in particular to Barbara Walters for pushing her beyond her comfort zone.  McCarthy followed up with her own tweet, saying that if Sherri goes, then she goes too, including the hashtag “sisters.”  TMZ also reported that Bill Geddie, the show’s co-executive producer along with Barbara Walters, will be leaving the show.  (Walters has remained on as executive producer even after concluding her onscreen responsibilities.)

the view only whoopi left

Future Co-Hosts Are Still Uncertain

The future of The View is presently uncertain.  It is very possible that the show will not be able to withstand this many departures at once, but as of now there are still plans to continue with Season 18 in mid-September.  With only Whoopi remaining in a present co-host position, rumors are circulating about who the replacements will be to join her.  TMZ reported that Rosie O’Donnell might very well be returning to the show, and that producers are also interested in Laila Ali.  Other names in the mix are Ross Matthews and Jesse Palmer.  In any case, ABC executives are still presenting an appearance of confidence regarding the future direction of the show, and more information about its new creative direction should surface soon.

Barbara Walters Says Farewell to “The View”

Barbara Walters Winds Down Her Television Career

On May 13, 2013, Barbara Walters announced that she would be retiring from appearing on television in approximately one year.  As promised, her final appearance as co-host on The View occurred on May 16, 2014.  Her retirement comes after a long and successful career as a television journalist, and her decision to retire, she said, was purely her own.  She remains on a co-executive producer of The View along with Bill Geddie, and will continue to do so as long as the show is on the air.  Presently, the remaining hosts of The View are Whoopi Goldberg, Sherri Shepherd, and Jenny McCarthy.  In total, there have been eleven co-hosts of the show since its inception in 1997, and all of them appeared to celebrate Barbara Walters on the show the day before her retirement.

barbara waltersWalters’ Career Trajectory

Walters has been a co-host and contributor to ABC News since 1976.  Prior to that, she had worked as a writer and research for NBC’s The Today Show since 1961, soon becoming that show’s regular “Today Girl.”  She effectively became co-host of The Today Show within a year after that, but the show’s male host Frank McGee refused to allow her equal responsibilities.  She was finally named co-host in 1974, but soon left for ABC.  At ABC, she first served as an anchor for ABC Evening News for two years, and she became a co-host of the ABC newsmagazine 20/20 in 1979.  She became known for her “personality journalism” and “scoop interviews,” and her access to public figures soon became unparalleled.  She crossed the Bay of Pigs with Fidel Castro, and she asked Vladimir Putin outright if he had ever ordered anyone to be killed; his answer was no.

Her Health and Personal Life

At age 84, Barbara Walters is in admirable health.  In May 2010, she took a leave from The View to undergo open heart surgery, but she returned to work in September.  As for her personal life, she has been married four times to three different men, because she divorced and then remarried her most recent husband, Merv Adelson.  Her first marriage was annulled in under a year, and her second marriage – to theatre producer and theatre own Lee Guber – resulted in her only child, an adopted daughter named Jacqueline Dena Guber (born 1968).  Upon her retirement, she does not plan to climb another mountain or appear on another program; rather, she said, she wants to sit on a sunny field and admire the gifted women who will be taking her place.

Walters’ Legacy

Walters leaves an extraordinary legacy, particularly for young women aspiring to work in the television field.  She was inducted barbara walters whoopi goldberg sherri shepherd jenny mccarthy the viewinto the Television Hall of Fame in 1989, and she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2007.  She has also received numerous awards, including several Daytime and Prime Time Emmy Awards, as well as the Lifetime Achievement Award from the New York Women’s Agenda.  She also received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 30th Annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards, presented at Lincoln Center.  Amongst her honors, many have been awarded for The View, including the 2003 Daytime Emmy Award for Best Talk Show, as well as the 2009 Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Talk Show Host.  The View will perhaps be her most lasting and personal legacy.

Extraordinary Final Ratings

Her retirement may have been spurred by a lack of recognition of her achievements by young people, who no longer know who she is.  Like anyone getting on in age, eventually her relevance will fade, as will the advertisers’ interest in her programs.  However, the ratings for her final on-air week on The View reached a three year high.  4.1 million viewers tuned in to see Barbara Walters in her final week, and for the demographic of 18 to 49 year-old women, the week earned a one and a half year high, reaching 648,000 viewers in that group.  Still, the crowd did skew older, with 830,000 women aged 25-54 but only 204,000 of them aged 18-34; nevertheless, those numbers both reached one year highs.

Who Will Her Successor Be?

It is not yet certain who will replace Walters on The View.  Five ideas that have circulated in the press include Robin Roberts, Rachel Maddow, Megyn Kelly, Ellen DeGeneres, or Katie Couric.  Some even suggest that the seat could be filled by a man.  After all, no one could really take her place.

‘America’s Got Talent’ Faces Tough Time Filling Seats In NYC

For the May 2014 taping of season 9 of the NBC behemoth TV show, America’s Got Talent (AGT), Mariah Carey’s hubby, Nick Cannon and the various judges Howard Stern, Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum and Mel B are certainly a big draw for audiences to see the show in NYC, but producers have created confusion in the choice of varied tape dates and locations for the taping’s, leading to a shortage of audience members.

For what’s billed as “Judgment Week “, normally the AGT show would be sold out, but right now there are many empty seats to be had over the next few days and many “priority seating” options are left empty, which is quite rare. The timings of the taping’s are also pretty awful with two taping’s a day at 9 AM and 2:15 PM maintaining a rigorous and demanding taping schedule. Many New Yorker’s just aren’t getting up for this. It is expected that in order to keep the morning audience there for the afternoon that they will feed them lunch as a bribe, a classic Hollywood trick.

The latest taping location is at Pier 92/94 on the West Side Highway, which is normally a  trade show and special event venue that houses the Westminster dog show and various other corporate trade shows. It’s weird to see AGT relegated to such a meager environment, especially given the high quality of the previous taping locations . Pier 92/94 bills itself in the “heart of midtown”, but in reality it is located on the outskirts of Midtown Manhattan at 55th Street and the West Side Highway, with no subway and little public transportation going there, that doesn’t help audience members who want to see the show, and have to battle rush-hour traffic to get there. No doubt the celebrities on the show, will be able to use Howard Stern’s “Ronnie Mund” AKA ” Ronnie the limo driver” to take them out there, in the quiet comfort of his customized Audi A8 complete with a working AC petcock.

AGT americas got talent show datesIt’s widely know that the reason AGT is shot in NYC is due to Howard Stern’s demanding schedule with The Howard Stern Show at Sirius XM radio so it remains to be seen if this format of moving around NYC in search of shooting locations will work over time or Howard will get bored and move onto new TV projects. It seems like just only a few moments ago the show was stationed in the theater at Madison Square Garden and before that it was at the Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark NJ. It is not clear where the live shows will be taped in the summer of 2014, but given the constant go-around NYC, it could be pretty much anywhere in the tri-state area.

What also doesn’t help is that the show isn’t on our TV screens right now, so there is little interest in the public minds – out of sight, out of mind. All the footage from these current shows is recorded and then edited down to the bare minimum, so the feel of this kind of show is labored and somewhat less compelling than a “Live” show, where it seems like anything could happen. Audiences in Hollywood would often be paid to attend these kinds of shows, but the New York ones have to be run more cheaply as the cost of shooting these shows in NYC is about double the Californian rate. The taped show also take a lot longer to shoot, often two and a half hours, with re-shoots and lighting adjustments galore,  which makes the audience restless and often bored. So bored  in fact that they don’t come back, especially given the amount of boos that Nick Cannon received recently at Madison Square Garden, when he came to see the NY Knicks play. His AGT TV producers thought it would be a great idea to shoot an AGT promo at the game and for him to appear on the MSG Jumbotron and then do a trick shot (Throwing the ball behind his head, while someone else throws a ball into the basket) His appearance on the Jumbotron was met with loud crowd boos and then his failed trick shot added to the crowd torment and they started getting mean. After a 2nd, but successful, attempt Nick Cannon finally sat down and then left the stadium just ten minutes later as he appears to have little interest in the Knicks. New Yorker’s generally do not like Nick Cannon and clearly Knicks fans positively dislike him, and now he knows it  if he didn’t know already. NBC’s AGT producers are well known producers of “fakeality” TV Shows and are to expected to still use the negative footage recorded at MSG, remove the loud boos, overdub the audio and edit out the fans rude hand gestures and make it appear that Mr Cannon was in fact the darling of The Garden.

We look forward to see the live shows of AGT come back to NYC in July and it will be interesting to see if the public interest in seeing this show returns, but given the current nomadic spin on shooting locations, the show could end up in Danbury, Connecticut. The home of all the other NBC universal shows. If only Howard Stern would agree to the move.

For your information, the official address of this shooting location at Pier 92/94 is 711 12th Avenue, New York, NY 10019.

Stephen Colbert Takes Over Letterman in 2015

Exactly one week after David Letterman announced his retirement from The Late Show, a position he has held since 1993, CBS announced that his successor would be Stephen Colbert.  Colbert, who is now 49, has signed a 5 year agreement with CBS.  His premiere date is presently unclear, but it will likely be sometime in the first months of 2015.  The show will continue to be filmed in New York’s Ed Sullivan Theater.

stephen colbert late show david letterman cbs emmysColbert rose to prominence over the course of his comedy television career, and since 2005 he has hosted his own Comedy Central series The Colbert Report.  Where many had postulated that Letterman would be succeeded by others including Craig Ferguson, Ellen Degeneres, or Neil Patrick Harris, the consensus seems to be generally pleased with the network’s decision to select Colbert.  In fact, Colbert is so popular that the largest complaint from the public is bemoaning the loss of The Colbert Report, which is a show very different in tone and style than The Late Show has historically been.  Whereas The Late Show is a late-night talk show consisting of a standard monologue, guest interviews, and live musical performance, The Colbert Report stands out for its satirical tone, most notably due to Colbert’s adoption of an alter-ego persona for the duration of the tapings.

Colbert first began to develop his now-famous onscreen persona in 1996 when he appeared in seven episodes of ABC’s prime time sketch comedy show The Dana Carvey Show, honing his character of a deadpan anchor delivering the news.  From 1997 to 2005, Colbert was a regular correspondent on The Daily Show, which has been hosted by Jon Stewart since 1999.  Throughout this period, he developed his character into a blatantly ignorant correspondent, who is unaware of his own lack of knowledge on the subjects he discusses.  In this way, Colbert was able to strike a genius balance between mockery and deliverance of his true opinion, guarded by the shield of comedy.

With the inception of The Colbert Report in 2005, Colbert became notorious for this alternate persona, leading him to great fame including two Peabody Awards and 27 Emmy nominations, as well as the 2013 Emmy Award for outstanding variety series, among other wins.  He also authored several books in this character, including I Am America (And So Can You!) in 2007, and America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t in 2012.  With the announcement of Colbert’s assumption of Letterman’s position at The Late Show, it became clear that this meant the end of The Colbert Report, and many of the show’s over one million nightly viewers were less than pleased.

It is now clear that Colbert will officially retire his persona along with his Comedy Central series, and that he will adopt a more genuine voice as the host of The Late Show.  Many Colbert Report devotees will need to choose whether they maintain their devotion to the man behind the character, even when he is out of character.  As The Colbert Report offers a news alternative that is truly irreverent, Colbert will now need to finesse his new onscreen presence to satisfy The Late Show viewership along
with his longtime fans.

On this past Tuesday night, April 22, 2014, Stephen Colbert paid a visit to David Letterman as a guest on The Late Show.  Letterman welcomed him very good naturedly, and Colbert appeared in black-rimmed glasses that made it clear his persona was nowhere to be seen.  Unlike when Jay Leno was chosen to succeed Johnny Carson as host of NBC’s The Tonight Show, despite Carson’s clear preference of Letterman, this appears to be a case where the host is happily passing the mantle to his chosen successor.  To demonstrate just how supportive he is, Letterman and Colbert even took a selfie.

 

David Letterman and Steven Colbert Take Selfie

MTV and MLB hope for a home run with Off the Bat from the MLB Fan Cave

As part of their 2014 spring lineup, MTV2 introduced a brand new baseball meets pop culture TV series, Off the Bat from the MLB Fan Cave, which enjoyed its season one opener on Tuesday, April 1 at 11:00 PM EST.  The premiere perfectly coincided with the start of Major League Baseball season, which got into full swing the day before.  This pitch-perfect timing is no mere coincidence.  The show is the first-born creative brainchild of the MLB and MTV, who announced their multi-year multi-platform partnership last November.

mlb-fan-cave - Off the bat TV Show

The weekly, 30-minute show is filmed in-studio from the popular MLB Fan Cave nestled on East 4th Street near NYU in New York City and on location throughout the country.  Four dynamic MTV personalities signed up to play host, and ball, including rapper and news reporter, Sway, hip-hop artist, Fat Joe, and two stars of MTV’s Guy Code, model and actress, Melanie Iglesias, and her high-energy comedic cohort, Chris Distefano.

This latest addition to the burgeoning genre of “sports culture” programming moves away from talking head over-analysis and stat streams per usual, and affords viewers a more off the cuff, off the field, sneak peek into the hearts, minds and personal lives of up-and-coming baseball greats and veteran heroes.  Players will engage in banterous in-studio interviews with the emcees, pal around with visiting celebrities, host in-house contests and musical guests, interact on social media with fans, film on location at their favorite hometown haunts and act as the instigators, participants and butts of practical jokes and locker room pranks.

mlb-fan-cave - Off the bat TV Show

Bryce Harper, the young, handsome and sometimes divisively aggressive Washington Nationals outfielder, christened the show’s debut with an in-studio appearance and trivia contest in which he had fans sit in barbers chairs and either correctly answer questions about his career or get their heads shaven.  In another segment, petite beauty, Melanie Iglesias, invited hunky Miami Marlins power hitter, Giancarlo Stanton, to an old car junkyard for an unconventional windshield-shattering batting practice.  A third bit had comedian Distefano visiting retirees in order to glean pearls of wisdom about retirement for Derek Jeter, who just began his last ever season as revered Yankees shortstop.

The MLB is optimistic that this good-natured and slightly goofy show will serve to recruit a new generation of baseball fans from MTV2’s mostly male viewing demographic, aged 12 to 34, who are devotedly loyal to the network’s smash hit, Guy Code, the very show from which two of Off the Bats hosts were procured.

Guy Code broke network records in 2013 with its season three premiere garnering an impressive .6 Nielsen rating and earning the title of “most-watched original series” in MTV2’s 18 years on air.  MLB and MTV are hoping that Off the Bat, which copies some of the Codes successful formula of uniting ordinary guys with pop culture icons and pro athletes, will enjoy the same measure of success.

MTV2, part of the MTV Networks under the care of parent company, Viacom, is currently available in more than 80 million U.S. homes.

The show, executive produced by three-time World Series champion and Red Sox designated slugger extraordinaire, David Ortiz, is on pre-order for 30 episodes, which are all scheduled to air in the same Tuesday night 11 PM Eastern standard time slot on MTV2.

David Letterman Announces Retirement in 2015

During the April 3, 2014 taping of CBS’ Late Show with David Letterman, the beloved television host announced that he will officially retire in 2015.  Letterman has held this position on CBS since 1993, preceded by his role hosting NBC’s Late Night with David Letterman from 1982 to 1993.

His rise to fame began in his hometown of Indianapolis, Indiana as an anchor and weatherman for the AM radio station WNTS.  After moving to Los Angeles in 1975, Letterman began his career as a comedy writer.  He became a regular contributor to the summer series The Starland Vocal Band Show, co-starred in a comedy special Peeping Times produced by Barry Levinson, and appeared on shows including Mary Tyler Moore’s variety show Mary, Mork & Mindy, and various game shows.  Through all this, he became a regular on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and soon was hosting his own morning show on NBC: The David Letterman Show.  Though the show was a critical success and earned two Emmys, it was cancelled in 1980 due to poor ratings.

NBC then decided to try Letterman in a different time slot, and thus began Late Night with David Letterman, filming in NBC Studios in New York at 12:30am Monday through Friday.  Its first guest was Bill Murray, and soon developed a cult following for being edgy and unpredictable.  In 1992, Johnny Carson retired, NBC gave the job of hosting The Tonight Show to Jay Leno instead of Letterman as many expected, and as Carson intended.  In response, Letterman left NBC for CBS, and the Late Show with David Letterman was born, taping at 11:30pm at the historic Ed Sullivan Theater.  That marked the beginning of a kind of “Talk Show War” between Leno and Letterman fighting for ratings.  Letterman rebranded himself as a bit more formal, both in terms of his wardrobe and the mood of the program.  He has held this job ever since, also appearing as the host of the Academy Awards in 1995, and re-signing his contract with CBS several times until 2014.  Yet his tenure was not without conflicts.

In October 2009, Letterman revealed on his show that he had been the victim of an attempted extortion of $2 million, threatening to reveal that he had had sexual affairs with several of his female employees.  After Letterman cooperated with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office to conduct a sting operation involving a phony check, Robert J. “Joe” Halderman was arrested with the charge of attempted grand larceny, and served a 6-month jail sentence.  Following the event, several prominent women including the co-host of NBC’s The Today Show Kathie Lee Gifford questioned whether Letterman had created an unfair working environment.  Letterman issued a public apology to his wife and staff on October 5, 2009. Through all of this, it is amazing that he kept his position, but CBS time and again renewed his contract.

With Letterman’s retirement, almost all of the remaining late-night hosts will have come from the post-Johnny Carson era.  It is possible that the old style of comedy is no longer relevant, or perhaps Letterman, at age 67, was just ready to step down and enjoy his remaining years.  Just seven years after Johnny Carson retired from The Tonight Show, he suffered from a severe heart attack and underwent quadruple-bypass surgery.  He became somewhat of a recluse, and died six years later.  Carson was a heavy smoker, and of course we hope that Letterman will not endure a similar fate.  Still, it must not be easy to give up the mantle.

The future of Late Show is presently uncertain.  One potential successor is Craig Ferguson, who has hosted The Late Late Show following Letterman since 2005.  His contract, which expires at the end of the year, calls for either him to replace Letterman or to receive a payout.  Other options include Jon Stewart, who has a huge following, and whose present network Comedy Central is owned by the same company as CBS.  Furthermore, many people are interested in the idea of Chelsea Handler, who has just announced she will be leaving E! where she has hosted Chelsea Lately since 2007.  Other names in the mix are Amy Schumer of Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Schumer, Chris Rock, Conan O’Brien, Ellen Degeneres, and Neil Patrick Harris.  There is also talk that the show may move to Los Angeles.

Broadway’s Anna Kendrick to Host SNL on April 5

Anna Kendrick, the multi-talented actress and singer, has been tapped to host Saturday Night Live on April 5, 2014.  This will be her SNL hosting debut.  The telecast will also feature Pharrell, the seven-time Grammy Award winner known for his recent hit “Happy” from the animated film Despicable Me 2.  Created and executive produced by Lorne Michaels, SNL is filmed in front of a live studio audience at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City.

anna kendrick on SNL Saturday Night LiveAnna Kendrick made her Broadway debut at the age of 12, when she played Dinah Lord in the 1998 production of High Society.  She was nominated for a Tony Award for this performance, but she has not appeared on Broadway since.  Subsequently, her career has mostly been focused on film, yet she has not forgotten her musical roots.  Her screen debut was 2003’s Camp, where she played nerd turned surprise diva Fritzi Wagner.  More recently, her fame skyrocketed due to her role in the a cappella themed film Pitch Perfect, as her performance of the song “Cups (When I’m Gone)” became the number 2 hit on Billboard’s Adult Pop Song Chart.  Furthermore, she has just finishing filming two musical screen roles: Cathy Hyatt in The Last Five Years and Cinderella in Into the Woods, both of which will be released later this year.

anna kendrick on SNL on 04/05/14 on NBC Saturday Night LiveSince its original airing in 1975, NBC’s weekly late night variety and sketch comedy show has often been a place for celebrities to let loose and stretch their versatility.  As such, there has often been an overlap between Broadway actors and SNL hosts.  The record for having hosted SNL the most number of times is held by Alec Baldwin (he hosted 16 times since 1990), who has been on Broadway 5 times.  His Broadway debut was Loot in 1986, and he was recently seen on stage in the 2013 production of Orphans.  Furthermore, many individuals who have hosted the Tony Awards over the years have also served as SNL hosts.  These include Hugh Jackman, Neil Patrick Harris, Sean Hayes, Bernadette Peters, and Rosie O’Donnell, to name a few.  Even Seth MacFarlane, who hosted last year’s musical themed Academy Awards show, has also hosted SNL.

Anna Kendrick at the Toy Awards Red Carpet 2013

The list of Broadway performers who have hosted SNL does not end there.  Many A-list actors have been featured both in Broadway shows and also as the host of SNL.  For example, the stars of The Producers, Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, have both served as SNL hosts.  So have Martin Short and Jason Alexander, who played those same roles in the Los Angeles production and US National Tour.  The stars of the film version of Chicago, Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones, have both hosted SNL.  Furthermore, there are several famous Hollywood actors who are presently appearing on Broadway, who have also served as SNL hosts.  These include James Franco, Alan Cumming, Daniel Radcliffe, and Bryan Cranston, among many more in recent years.

Anna Kendrick may not have been on Broadway since she was 12 years old, but she is nonetheless a beloved star of stage and screen, whose singing chops make her memorable as a musical theatre star.  After she makes her SNL hosting debut, and then appears back-to-back in two major musical film releases, we may see her on the Great White Way once again before too long.