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Viacom yanks free online programming; dispute continues with DirecTV

As the dispute between Viacom and DirecTV continued Wednesday, the conglomerate yanked access to some of its more popular programming that was available free on company websites. Fans can no longer watch full episodes of shows like SpongeBob Squarepants and iCarly or Jersey Shore and The Daily Show, which is sure to further anger the 20 million DirecTV subscribers who continue to find a dark screen when they change the channel to Viacom-owned nets like Nick, MTV, Comedy Central and VH1.

“Viacom is now not only holding DirecTV customers hostage, but all online viewers as well,” according to a statement from DirecTV. “Is this just another underhanded negotiating tactic, or does this mean that Viacom will no longer offer its content free online?” READ FULL STORY

DirecTV customers lose MTV, Nick and other Viacom nets

At midnight on Tuesday, 17 Viacom-owned cable nets like Nickelodeon and Comedy Central went dark on DirecTV after the conglomerate failed to reach a new carriage deal with the satellite provider.

DirecTV customers who wanted their MTV (or their BET, or Spike, or VH1) were met with this message: “Viacom, the owner of this channel, forced DirecTV to suspend it despite our many requests to keep it on. We are working to bring it back as soon as possible without an unfair increase to your bill. Disruptions like this are brief. Go to DirecTVPromise.com for the latest info.” CEO Mike White also taped a message for customers by saying how Viacom wants them to “pay substantially more for all of their networks, even those you don’t watch or care about.”

Viacom described the impasse a little differently by saying it was DirecTV’s decision to drop the major cablers. “We are deeply disappointed that DirecTV dropped Viacom’s channels before our midnight deadline this evening, severing our connection with its nearly 20 million subscribers nationwide,” according to a company statement. “We proposed a fair deal that amounted to an increase of only a couple pennies per day, per subscriber, and we remained willing to negotiate that deal right up to this evening’s deadline.”

The seven-year deal between Viacom and DirecTV just expired. DirecTV says Viacom wants a 30% increase in fees to carry the nets, while Viacom has accused the satellite provider of lowballing the conglomerate — which, admittedly, has seen double-digit ratings drops on its once shining star, Nickelodeon. The kiddie cabler used to routinely trounce the Disney Channel in total day and kids 2-11; now the Mouse House cabler is ruling in total day viewing and the young demo. It certainly helps that Disney has recently launched several new and popular shows like Good Luck Charlie and A.N.T. Farm while Nick hasn’t created a new hit since iCarly, which will go off the air on November.

If that’s not enough to raise the ire of DirecTV, there’s also the issue of how lots of Viacom programming can be accessed for free online.

DirecTV has roughly 20 million subscribers.

'Snooki and JWoww' First Look: The girls reunite with their 'Jersey Shore' housemates -- EXCLUSIVE PHOTO

Snooki and JWoww have been doing the roomie thing for the last couple weeks on their MTV spin-off but in this week’s episode (the first of a two-parter that concludes on July 19), the ladies invite back their Jersey Shore housemates—Pauly D, Vinny, Sammi, Ronnie, and Deena—for a special dinner, seen here in this exclusive photo. The occassion? Snooki plans to reveal her engagement and pregnancy with Jionni. Let’s just say things don’t go exactly according to plan. “Their reactions were crazy,” says executive producer Sally Ann Salsano. “There are two episodes it plays out over. First she says she’s engaged and I’m not sure Snooki got the reaction from everyone that she wanted.”

Next, Snooki dropped the pregnancy bombshell. “There’s no confusion on how anyone feels,” teases Salsano. “Jenni and Snooki hung behind because they had to clean up the dinner and without saying anything the cast made plans right out the door, like ‘We need to have a drink.’ They instantly wanted to go talk about it and we went with them.”

To witness the drama go down and see what the Shore housemates thought of Snooki’s big news, be sure and tune into the two-part Snooki & JWoww episode airing July 12 and July 19 at 10pm on MTV.

Follow Tim on Twitter: @EWTimStack

'Drop Dead Diva': Sneak peeks of Joan Rivers, Brandy ... and a Wimbledon winner!

Tonight’s an all-star edition of Drop Dead Diva, featuring Joan Rivers as a psychiatrist and Serena Williama as an attorney representing Brandy. From the winner’s circle at Wimbledon to center stage on a Lifetime hit; not a bad way to spend the weekend, Serena.

Here’s a sneak peek of tonight’s episode: READ FULL STORY

Nickelodeon sets premiere date for 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' -- EXCLUSIVE

Two weeks ago, EW premiered the trailer for Nickelodeon’s reboot of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series, and now we’ve got some more exclusive information for you: The children’s cable network will premiere the show on Saturday, Sept. 29, at 11 a.m. in a one-hour special event. Nickelodeon will officially announce the premiere date on the network on Saturday.

The half-hour action series is set to consist of 26 episodes about the four, butt-kicking turtles who rise from the sewers: Leonardo (American Pie‘s Jason Biggs), Raphael (Lord of the Rings‘ Sean Astin), Michelangelo (Teen Titan‘s Greg Cipes), and Donatello (Planet Sheen‘s Rob Paulsen, who voiced Raphael in the original animated series during the ’80s and ’90s). The network describes the series as: “Funnier and with more Ninjutsu than ever before, the show will explore the companionship of four teenage brothers learning to rely on themselves and one another as they unravel the mystery of their existence and grow to become the heroes in a half-shell that they are destined to be.”

Rounding out key roles in the series include Mae Whitman (Parenthood) as the boys’ pal April O’Neil; Hoon Lee (Royal Pains) as the Turtles’ sensei and father figure Master Splinter; and Kevin Michael Richardson (Penguins of Madagascar) as nemesis Shredder.

Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky

Read more:
Nickelodeon’s ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ reboot: See the show’s trailer here! — EXCLUSIVE
First Look: Nickelodeon unveils ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ — EXCLUSIVE VIDEO
Sean Astin voicing Raphael in new ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ — EXCLUSIVE
Nickelodeon acquires Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

'Snooki & JWoww': Girls fend off ninja attack by peeing themselves -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

On this week’s Snooki & JWoww, the girls visit theme restaurant Ninja in New York City and are terrified by ninjas, a little treat that awaits arriving diners at the Tribeca spot. Preggers Snooki has a little bladder accident and tough JWoww doesn’t handle the ninjas with any more fortitude. Avert your eyes if you’re afraid of ninjas (or guidettes with leaky bladders). Everyone else, enjoy! READ FULL STORY

'The Glee Project': Kevin McHale talks tonight's episode and season 4 of 'Glee'

Tyler Golden/Oxygen Media

This week, Oxygen’s The Glee Project welcomes Kevin McHale, who of course plays Artie on Glee, to mentor the remaining contestants. Their lesson this week? “Adaptability,” which required the contestants to think on their feet. EW spoke to McHale about tonight’s episode — and didn’t hesitate to grill him for scoop on season 4 and even his thoughts on a Quinn/Artie romance.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Your theme is adaptability. What song did they have to do?
KEVIN MCHALE: They had to do Alanis Morissette… What Alanis Morissette song was it? The one about [oral sex] in a theater.

“You Oughta Know?”
“You Oughta Know” — that’s what I thought! My intention was to be as cruel as possible to them. READ FULL STORY

'The Exes' nods to '3rd Rock': Kristen Johnston and Wayne Knight go on a date -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

One of TV Land’s favorite things to do on its original sitcoms is to reunite old castmembers from old shows. You know, those winky scenes — like when Betty White reunited with Mary Tyler Moore on Hot in Cleveland last year — that nod back to the original series the actors were originally on together. Well, there’s more of that coming on tomorrow night’s episode of TV Land’s The Exes, which finds former 3rd Rock from the Sun actors Kristen Johnston and Wayne Knight playing together in a dating-focused half hour.

Of course, the pair have co-starred together on The Exes since it launched last November, but this particular episode — which you can catch an exclusive sneak peek of below — puts them together like the old 3rd Rock days when their characters on that show, Sally and Don, were constantly in the will-they-or-won’t-they zone.

On The Exes, Johnston plays Holly Brooks, a divorce attorney who lives across the hall from three of her former clients — one of whom is Knight’s character Haskell Lutz, a lazy divorcee who makes cash selling stuff online. This won’t ruin tomorrow night’s episode for you, but it’s fair to say that the pair aren’t really dating because, well, lawyers shouldn’t date their clients — especially divorce lawyers. But Holly and Haskell do go on a fun, faux, practice date (Haskell needs the practice, trust!) and have a number of funny scenes together throughout the episode.

EW rounded the pair up to chat about what it was like to come back together, a la 3rd Rock, and got them talking about various other topics. Read what they had to say and watch the scene they preview below.

READ FULL STORY

Summer premiere dates: When to find 'White Collar,' 'Big Brother,' and 'Breaking Bad'

We’ve already seen the return of True Blood. We already know how many viewers that Charlie Sheen can bring to FX. Now what about the return of Bryan Cranston to AMC or the whereabouts of all those desperate bachelors on ABC?

Here are the premiere dates for the rest of this summer’s broadcast and cable shows, including some of those early bows for NBC’s post-Olympic programming. READ FULL STORY

TNT orders fourth season of 'Rizzoli & Isles'

Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander will come back for more crime-solving fun next year. TNT announced today that it has ordered a fourth season of Rizzoli & Isles, which stars Harmon as a Boston police detetive and Alexander as a medical examiner.

The new season that will bow sometime in 2013 will feature 15 episodes. The show is based on the best-selling crime novels by Tess Gerritsen.

“Anchoring a new night in its third season, Rizzoli & Isles has proven itself to be a strong and enduring hit, not only in terms of the great storylines and performances, but also in terms of the show’s stellar ratings,” said Michael Wright, president, head of programming for TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movies, in a statement. “We’re thrilled that Rizzoli & Isles will continue to be a vital part of the TNT lineup.”

After premiering in 2010, Rizzoli & Isles went on to average a record 8.8 million viewers in its first season and more than 8.4 million in its second. Moving to a new night this summer, the show has averaged 7.1 million viewers.

For more:

Sasha Alexander teases new season
Angie Harmon wants to play She-Hulk: ‘I have to be her’
TNT gives ‘Dallas’ a premiere date, reveals rest of summer schedule

'American Horror Story': 'Secret Circle' star will be playing [SPOILER] -- EXCLUSIVE

Jason Merritt/Getty Images

UPDATE: While Zylka is staying mum on his character’s details, EW has learned that he will in fact be playing a character named Daniel, who is the “Most Beautiful Boy in the World”… and also a deaf-mute.

The Secret Circle may have ended its run on The CW but fans can rejoice that castmember Chris Zylka has found a new TV gig — FX’s thrill ride American Horror Story. The actor told EW last night at The Amazing Spider-Man premiere (Zylka appears in the superhero film as well) that he finally could reveal he had landed the AHS job. “Ryan Murphy, thank God, let me finally announce tonight that I will be a cast member on the second season of American Horror Story,” says Zylka. “It is a thrill, an honor, a challenge. Honestly, it was as big a thrill to book that show as it was to get a part in The Amazing Spider-Man. I cannot believe I will get to be in the same room as Jessica Lange, let alone work with her. I am a lucky, lucky guy. I, of course, cannot tell you who or what I am playing or anything about the story yet. Ryan only gave me the okay to say I was in the show. I’m not going to do anything to jeopardize that.” READ FULL STORY

TLC renews 'Four Weddings,' adds new night of brides -- EXCLUSIVE

Since hundreds of thousands of women like to say yes to the dress on TLC, the cabler is adding a new night of wedding programming this summer.

Beginning July 19, TLC will expand its nuptial coverage to Thursdays by airing the season 4 premiere of Four Weddings. Episodes will air back to back at 9 and 10 p.m. and will continue to feature four very competitive brides who vie for a fancy honeymoon by attempting to throw a better “I do” shindig. Some of this season’s weddings include bull riding and a plastic red carpet (huh?).

Weddings have been very, very good to TLC: Anything bridal-related helps the net to become the No. 1 destination for women in 18-34.

Here’s a sneak peek of the new season of Four Weddings featuring a beach ceremony that no one seems to be at, except a Charlie Chaplin impersonator: READ FULL STORY

CNN and Fox News whiff on Obamacare ruling

The cable news wars are cut-throat, with a relentless emphasis on being fast and first. But that urgency cost both CNN and Fox News today when both networks erroneously announced that the Supreme Court had overturned President Obama’s health-care law. In fact, the Court upheld the law, with a surprising 5-4 decision authored by conservative Chief Justice John Roberts. The language and the reasoning behind the ruling were dense and complex, and it was clear, at least on CNN’s broadcast, that they hadn’t read the entire document before announcing their own incorrect verdict on the air. They also tweeted the wrong news, only to have to correct themselves 13 minutes later. [Update: CNN has released a statement apologizing for their mistake: "In his opinion, Chief Justice Roberts initially said that the individual mandate was not a valid exercise of Congressional power under the Commerce Clause. CNN reported that fact, but then wrongly reported that therefore the court struck down the mandate as unconstitutional. However, that was not the whole of the Court’s ruling. CNN regrets that it didn't wait to report out the full and complete opinion regarding the mandate. We made a correction within a few minutes and apologize for the error."]

Fox News also briefly ran a headline saying, “Supreme Court Finds Health Care Individual Mandate Unconstitutional.” [Update: Michael Clemente, executive vice president of Fox News said in a statement, “We gave our viewers the news as it happened. When Justice Roberts said, and we read, that the mandate was not valid under the Commerce clause, we reported it. Bill Hemmer even added, be patient as we work through this. Then when we heard and read, that the mandate could be upheld under the government’s power to tax, we reported that as well -- all within two minutes. By contrast, one other cable network was unable to get their Supreme Court reporter to the camera, and said as much. Another said it was a big setback for the President. Fox reported the facts, as they came in.”]

Other news outlets were more cautious, and it paid off. Prior to the announcement, the New York Times had specifically warned its audience that the ruling might take time for journalists and legal experts to absorb. READ FULL STORY

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