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MGM is launching the United Artists Media Group (again)

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios is trying to make United Artists happen … again. Originally launched in 1919, the United Artists banner has been through its ups and downs. Its most recent revival came in 2006, thanks to Tom Cruise, Paula Wagner, and MGM. But after Wagner left in 2008, and Cruise’s stake disappeared a few years later, it is now fully owned by MGM. And now, the studio is planning a relaunch.

MGM announced in a press release that is has acquired a 55 percent interest in Roma Downey, Mark Burnett and Hearst Entertainment’s One Three Media and LightWorkers Media, which includes hit shows Survivor, The Voice, Shark Tank, and more. According to MGM, those entities will be consolidated into a “new media venture called United Artists Media Group.”

Although UAGM will include both scripted and non-scripted television shows, it will also feature motion pictures and digital content, with Burnett serving as CEO. Meanwhile, Downey will serve as president of Lightworkers Media, the faith and family division of UAMG.

“I am extremely pleased to be partnering with Mark, Roma and Steve in this incredible new venture that we believe will be accretive to MGM’s business,” MGM’s CEO Gary Barber said in a press release. “Mark and Roma are without a doubt the most successful and dominant players in unscripted television and faith-based content and we are excited to be distributing UAMG content worldwide. Together with Hearst Entertainment’s vast array of media assets and knowledge, MGM could not have wished for better partners to continue to grow the MGM business of creating premium content for distribution across multiple platforms. Additionally, we are extremely optimistic about the launch of an exciting new Over-The-Top (OTT) faith-based channel. Finally, I am truly honored to welcome Mark, Roma, Steve and their entire team into the MGM family.”

Speaking of the Over-The-Top channel, MGM is hoping it will “create a singular destination for audiences of faith worldwide and on every screen.” The channel will have original content, premium film and television catalog titles, user-created short-term faith-based videos, and more.

Hearst Corporation president and CEO Steven Swartz added: “MGM is a storied entertainment company and we are excited to expand our partnership with Gary and his team, as well as Mark and Roma, to create the next hit programming for a new audience of consumers.”

John Krasinski returns to NBC with two comedies in development

His days as Jim from The Office may be over, but John Krasinski is still firmly rooted at NBC, this time as producer.

EW confirms that Krasinski and his production shingle, Sunday Night, sold two comedies to NBC in an overall deal with Universal TV. Krasinski and Allyson Seeger will executive produce both single-camera, untitled projects, working closely with Sunday Night’s Mike Sablone.

The first project comes from writer Shawn Wines and executive producer Aaron Kaplan, and focuses on a failed law student who turns to a career in garbage collecting in New York City. The second project is written by writing duo Josh Siegal and Dylan Morgan, and focuses on a middle-aged ad executive who starts his own agency in his garage from the ground up after being let go from his job.

Krasinski is not expected to star in either of the projects.

'New York Times' public editor denounces Shonda Rhimes article

The New York Times public editor has called television critic Alessandra Stanley’s controversial piece about Shonda Rhimes “at best – astonishingly tone-deaf and out of touch.” Stanley, among other offenses, called Rhimes an “angry black woman.”  READ FULL STORY

Kenan Thompson leaving 'Saturday Night Live'? Not so fast...

Though TMZ is reporting that Kenan Thompson is leaving Saturday Night Live at the end of this season, an SNL spokesperson tells EW that the report is “inaccurate as the season hasn’t even started and cast decisions aren’t made until the end of the season.”

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Syfy's next movie: Fire-breathing tarantulas attack 'Police Academy' cast reunion 

Lavalantula

Syfy’s next creature film film will give us many gifts. Let’s list each of them in turn:

The movie has giant fire-breathing tarantulas.

Its title is Lavalantula.

The lavalantulas attack Los Angeles, a city that’s always worth picking on.

The movie has an awesome poster (below) including the nearly nonsensical tagline “Fire Burns. Lava Bites.”

The movie stars Steve Guttenberg, who was in the Police Academy films. READ FULL STORY

Stephen King's JFK assassination thriller gets Hulu series order

One of Stephen King’s most acclaimed novels in recent years is coming to Hulu as a limited series thanks to super-producer J.J. Abrams.

Hulu has greenlit an adaptation of King’s bestseller 11/22/63 from Warner Bros. TV and Abrams’ Bad Robot productions. The 2011 novel follows a high school English teacher who travels back in time to prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and discovers the past can become very tricky to change. Abrams, King, writer Bridget Carpenter (The Red Road, Friday Night Lights) and Bryan Burk are all executive producers.

“If I ever wrote a book that cries out for long-form, event TV programming, 11/22/63 is it,” King said in a statement.

The project will be designed as a stand-alone story based on King’s novel. But if the show is successful, we’re told the opportunity exists to do additional seasons based on the same format. READ FULL STORY

If Jamie Dornan had returned to 'Once Upon a Time': What would've been

Once Upon a Time nearly got 50 shades hotter last season.

During season three, executive producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis revealed to reporters that they had a plan for Jamie Dornan to return as Sheriff Graham, a.k.a. the Huntsman, who died in season one after Regina crushed his heart. Ultimately, Dornan couldn’t make it work because the actor was busy shooting Fifty Shades of Grey. At the time, the Once bosses couldn’t even reveal their initial plans, and now it’s clear why: Sheriff Graham would’ve appeared in the season finale, which featured Emma and Hook accidentally traveling back in time to the Enchanted Forest that was.

READ FULL STORY

'Dallas' boss on the finale: 'Some people survive, some people don't'

All of the promos for Dallas‘ season-three finale are teasing the same thing: One Ewing will die. So now, the question is: Who will it be? And how many other non-Ewings will also be included in the death count? Considering that when viewers left off, Bobby was in Mexico trying to save Ann and Emma, things aren’t looking good. With a highly dangerous cartel in the mix, there are no limits on tonight’s two-hour finale, which executive producer Cynthia Cidre promises will quite literally blow your mind.

EW chatted with Cidre about the finale. Here’s what you need to know going in.

There will be a definitive answer on Nicolas. All season, Nicolas has been toeing the line between being a good guy and being a bad guy. In the last episode, he came clean to Elena about all of his lies, but that’s not the end of his story. Cidre says the finale will provide the answer to the question, “Is he good or bad?” “You’re going to find out, for sure,” Cidre says. “You’re going to find out big time.” As for him and Elena? He still believes there’s hope. As Cidre put it, “He didn’t poke that diaphragm for nothing.”

The cartel will come to an end… sort of. Although the cartel storyline might extend into season four—which isn’t technically picked up, though Cidre is hopeful—some of the cartel guys will wrap up their stories. “You will definitely get an end,” Cidre said. “The characters you’ve come to know, whether it’s Luis or El Posalero, the guy with the braid, all of those people—you will have definition on them so that you know exactly where it all ends.”

Hour one is about a rescue mission. The first half of the finale will focus on saving Ann and Emma. “The basis of the first hour of the last two hours is the family making moves and trying to be heroic to rescue these two women,” Cidre said. However, a few people might have different ideas on just how to do that, and there’s nothing worse than one rescue mission messing up another.

Nobody will walk away unscathed. “There are so many people in actual physical jeopardy,” Cidre said. And leading into the finale: “The physical jeopardy continues; there’s some shooting; there are people hurt,” she continued. “Some people survive, some people don’t, and in the end, no one’s unscathed. Everybody’s taking a huge punch to the gut, and some recover better than others, and some are going to have to wait for season four to fully recover, to first express their anger and grief and hopefully grow from there and recover.”

The two-hour Dallas finale airs Monday night at 9 p.m. on TNT.

The cast of 'Sleepy Hollow' explains season 1 in 30 seconds

In Sleepy Hollow, anything is possible. Seriously, the series started when Ichabod Crane woke up from a 250-year sleep. Cut to the end of the season, and Abbie’s stuck in purgatory, Katrina’s been kidnapped by the Headless Horseman, and Ichabod’s son is the Horseman of War. Yeah, it’s a lot to take in.

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James Spader talks 'The Blacklist' season premiere, loving the strange

The Blacklist returns Sept. 22 (10 p.m. ET on NBC), and as fans were informed in the teaser below, war is coming. Berlin (Peter Stormare), the Big Bad revealed in the season-one finale to be the reason Red (James Spader) turned himself into the FBI in the first place—because he couldn’t lure him out and fight him alone—will make it very personal very quickly, executive producer Jon Bokencamp says. “I told Peter we wanted the character to be dangerous and strange,” he says. “He’s constantly emailing back and forth with little questions, nuances, line changes, and ideas to make the character more specific, more grounded, and more fun.”

Season two picks up a few months after the season-one finale, and the task force members are living paranoid lives and feeling hunted. When Red gets a lead, they finally have a reason to get back together. Bokencamp is tight-lipped about his recurring guest stars—which will include Mary-Louise Parker, who is introduced in the premiere as a woman with a deep history with Red, and Paul Reubens, who’ll first appear in episode three as a dapper, finicky “muscle” who handles delicate situations in the criminal underworld. But talking with Spader (before that promo was released), EW got a few more insights into Red. READ FULL STORY

'Survivor' host Jeff Probst names his favorites for this season

He’s already defended the casting of controversial baseball player John Rocker. And he told us why the show imported Amazing Race duo Nadiya and Natalie. Now,  host Jeff Probst names his favorites going into Survivor: San Juan Del Sur — Blood vs. Water. Of course, whether these people will be his favorites when all is said and done is anyone’s guess. Several people that Probst thought in the past would be stars on the show turned out to be total duds. Conversely, often people that didn’t really impress him all that much in casting ended up popping big time once cameras started rolling. So it’s an inexact science to be sure. READ FULL STORY

'Madam Secretary' premiere draws large (yet older) audience

madame-secretary.jpg

CBS’ new drama series Madam Secretary got off to a rather interesting start in the ratings Sunday night, while The Good Wife had its lowest-rated debut yet.

Secretary stars Tea Leoni as a Hillary Clinton-inspired Secretary of State dealing with D.C. politics and global challenges. The premiere at 9 p.m. Sunday night had a rather huge 14.3 million viewers, yet a merely fair 1.9 rating among adults 18-49. That’s about on par with The Amazing Race premiere last fall in the demo. But CBS says this is the most-watched fall drama premiere in three years among total viewers. An older-skewing audience was expected for the show — 81 percent of the Secretary audience is over 50 years old — especially given its big 60 Minutes lead-in (18.2 million, 3.6)—itself boosted by some NFL overrun. (In fact, the NFL overrun may have also inflated the Madam Secretary numbers).

At 10 p.m., the sixth season return of The Good Wife (10 million, 1.3) slumped 13 percent from last year’s already sluggish premiere. That downturn is in the demo, however. Once again, among total viewers Good Wife was actually up. The Good Wife is the rare example of a broadcast network show that survives thanks to critical prestige and awards more than numbers.

New 'Walking Dead' baddie Gareth (a.k.a. Andrew J. West) speaks

After following the signs promising safety and sanctuary to Terminus for half a season, Rick and Co. were trapped in a box car thanks to the seemingly diabolical dealings of the train yard’s leader, Gareth. Even worse, several clues appear to hint that Gareth and the folks of Terminus plan on EATING their guests. But just who is this Gareth? And who is the man who plays him? We caught up with actor Andrew J. West after his epic road trip to Terminus to find out how he joined The Walking Dead, what he knows about what’s coming up when the show returns on Oct. 12, and how he views the man holding the keys to train car A. (Click though both pages to read the entire interview.) READ FULL STORY

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