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Pivot greenlights second season of Joseph Gordon-Levitt's 'HitRECord on TV'

Just ahead of the official premiere, Pivot has ordered a second season of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s HitRECord on TV.

The first episode of the variety show was made available online last week and in that time has notched more than 495,000 views.

The network also announced today during its panel at the Television Critics Association press tour that Meghan McCain will join their nightly news program TakePart Live. She will join existing co-host Jacob Soboroff, which airs weekdays at midnight.

DirecTV subscribers could lose Weather Channel as discussions reach 'impasse'

DirecTV subscribers could lose The Weather Channel as soon as early Tuesday morning.

The broadcast satellite service provider and the network are currently in a spat over their carriage agreement, in which TWC is seeking an increase in compensation.

“Right now we’re pretty much at an impasse in our discussions. We’re still hopeful we will reach an agreement…but right now it’s not looking so good,” said Shirley Powell, head of corporate communications for The Weather Channel. “We’re asking for a very negligible increase for the life-saving information we offer.” If an agreement is not reached, by Jan. 14 at 12:01 a.m. ET, DIRECTV viewers will lose the network.

Just before TWC’s panel during the Television Critics Association press tour Saturday morning, DirecTV issued their own statement on the spat, saying they are seeking the “best value since people now use so many other ways to retrieve weather-related information.” DirecTV launched their own weather information provider in 2011 with WeatherNation, a response, they said in their statement, “to numerous customer complaints that more than 40 percent of The Weather Channel’s programming is dedicated to reality television shows.”

For his part, Sam Champion, who left Good Morning America to lead a new morning show on TWC set to launch in March, defended The Weather Channel’s assertion that despite being a for-profit business, it fills a public service. “Sometimes business has to fill in where there’s not a public utility to take care of it,” he said. “There isn’t one [for weather]. I’d love to say that we can all rest assured and be stay safe in our homes during a storm because of blank that will take care of us and inform us and prepare us and evacuate us, there isn’t one.” The Weather Channel has launched a social media campaign and a website so viewers can chime in.

NBC announces start dates for 'About a Boy,' 'Crisis,' more

The new Jason Katims comedy About a Boy, along with the new J.J. Abrams drama Believe, have start dates! About a Boy, which is based on the best-selling Nick Hornby novel, will bow on Tuesday, Feb. 25 at 9 p.m.

Believe will have a special preview Monday, March 10 at 10 p.m. following The Voice and will premiere in its regular time period Sunday, March 16 at 9 p.m. The new Jenna Elfman comedy Growing Up Fisher will premiere in its regular time period Tuesday, Feb. 25 at 9:30 p.m.

Finally, NBC will trot out a new political thriller called Crisis on March 16 at 10 p.m.

Can’t forget about reality shows! The Nate Berkus-hosted reality competition series American Dream Builders will premiere Sunday, March 23 at 8 p.m.

Believe is a suspense drama that follows a 10-year-old girl with incredible powers who must be protected from falling into the wrong hands. Crisis examines to what extremes elite and influential Washington, D.C., parents will go to when their children are put in jeopardy by a man who is out for revenge.

Dream Builders will pits 12 of the country’s most accomplished designers and builders against each other as they tackle massive home renovation projects, featuring unique architectural styles.

Comedy Central greenlights Ben Stiller-produced comedy

Comedy Central has ordered a half-hour comedy series produced in part by Ben Stiller’s Red Hour productions. The network has also given the go-ahead to an animated series that features the voices of Rob Lowe, Elizabeth Banks and Will Forte.

The Stiller-produced scripted series, Big Time in Hollywood, FL, which follows two delusional filmmaker brothers, received a 10-episode order from the network. According to a statement from Stiller, the show “combines the directorial style of Hitchcock, the acting prowess of Streep, the budget of House of Payne, and the nutritional value of Velveeta. I think people’s minds will be blown wide open. For real.”

The animated series, titled Moonbeam City, is “an absurdist take on the gritty, sex-drenched crime dramas from the 1980s,” according to the network’s announcement. Lowe will lend his voice the project and will act as a producer as well. It is set to premiere in 2015.

'Saturday Night Live': Inside its search for black female voices

On November 8, New York-based comedian Kerry Coddett (pictured, left) fired shots at Saturday Night Live with an editorial published on the Atlantic‘s website. In it, she blasted the notion that the show’s cast hadn’t featured a black woman in years because — as longtime repertory player Kenan Thompson said in a widely-circulated interview last fall — “in auditions, they just never find ones that are ready.” Coddett contended instead that SNL‘s diversity problems were endemic and ingrained. “Perhaps it’s not that black women aren’t ‘ready’ for SNL; it’s that SNL isn’t ready for a black woman,” she wrote.

Less than a month later, a rep from Saturday Night Live invited Coddett to audition for the show.

“I didn’t know anything about the audition until I got there,” she told EW in an interview Wednesday. “Going into it, I was like ‘Ha, wouldn’t it be funny if there were only black women here?’ And that’s what it was.”

READ FULL STORY

'American Horror Story': Ryan Murphy talks Stevie Nicks' debut on 'Coven' and which witches are actually dead -- EXCLUSIVE

[SPOILER ALERT IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE LATEST AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN!!!!!]

The “White Witch” finally made her much-anticipated debut last night on American Horror Story: Coven. Yes, the one and only Stevie Nicks popped up as a pal of Fiona’s and gave the Miss Robichaux ladies a little private concert. Elsewhere, Nan, Joan and (maybe?) Misty perished. Plus, Marie did an awesome thing her tongue. EW talked to co-creator Ryan Murphy about all this and more, like which witches are gone for good.
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'SNL' adds LaKendra Tookes and Leslie Jones to writing staff

More signs of progress at Saturday Night Live: EW has confirmed that the sketch show has added comedians LaKendra Tookes and Leslie Jones to its writing staff. Their hiring comes two days after SNL announced that New York-based comedian Sasheer Zamata will be the show’s newest featured player. All three women are black — a rarity for SNL, which has featured just four black female cast members in its 39-year history. The Hollywood Reporter first reported the news.

Tookes (pictured at right), a former news reporter, was one of the 11 black women who auditioned for SNL during a secret showcase held in Los Angeles last December. She’s trained at Improv Olympic’s iO West theater. A character reel posted on YouTube shows her performing impressions of celebrities like Oprah, Paula Deen, and Nicki Minaj.

Jones is a veteran comedian and actress who has opened for Jamie Foxx and appeared on programs including Showtime at the Apollo, Chelsea Lately, Mind of MenciaGirlfriends, and Problem Child, an hour-long Showtime special. She auditioned at SNL‘s secret New York showcase in December.

Though the show currently has no plans to feature Tookes or Jones onscreen, that could easily change: Several past cast members, including Jason Sudeikis and Tina Fey, started out as writers before transitioning to on-camera work. And just this year, longtime writer Mike O’Brien was brought into the show’s cast as a featured player.

Hulu's original programming slate includes Casey Wilson comedy, new season of 'The Awesomes'

Hulu’s originals lineup for the new year, announced this morning, is an amalgam both old favorites and a few new shows, with offerings like a Real Housewives parody starring Casey Wilson (watch EW’s exclusive debut of Hulu’s Hotwives of Orlando trailer), the second season of Seth Meyers’ The Awesomes, and the second season of Chris O’Dowd’s semi-autobiographical comedy Moone Boy.

“What I love about [our slate] is the diversity of the high-quality content that is there,” Charlotte Koh, head of development, tells EW. “I think that we’re doing the continued mission of bringing a great variety of carefully selected, hand-picked shows from all over the world in lots of different genres and I think that represents the fact that we have a sophisticated, curious audience that wants to try out television that feels distinctive.”

The launch of a supernatural comedy called Deadbeat, starring Tyler Labine (Reaper) and So You Think You Can Dance host Cat Deeley — Hulu’s first co-production with Lionsgate — and a second season of Hulu’s East Los High were also among the projects announced. Their full slate is detailed below. READ FULL STORY

Fox orders Rainn Wilson drama 'Backstrom'

Fox has ordered 13 episodes of Backstrom, a one-hour drama based on novelist Leif G.W. Persson’s hit series of books of the same name that will star Rainn Wilson. Created and executive-produced by Hart Hanson (Bones), the series centers on Det. Everett Backstrom, an offensive, irascible detective, as he tries, and fails, to change his self-destructive behavior.

The drama was originally developed at CBS but the network passed on it for fall.

“Hart Hanson and Rainn Wilson are the perfect combination of creative vision and on-screen talent to bring this one-of-a-kind character and story like Backstrom to Fox,” said Kevin Reilly, Fox Chairman of Entertainment, in a statement. “I’ve been in business with Hart for a long time, and not only does he have a rare gift for infusing darker themes with relatable humor, he’s one of the best showrunners out there today. Together with Rainn – who absolutely nails this role and makes it a classic FOX character – I think we’ve got something really special here.”

FX orders Denis Leary comedy pilot, 'Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll'

Denis Leary could be coming back to FX, this time in a half-hour comedy which he is writing and producing.

The network announced its reunion with the star today for a pilot titled Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll, which was written by and stars the former Rescue Me star. READ FULL STORY

'Being Mary Jane': Gabrielle Union on her racy new BET series and auditioning for 'Scandal'

Four million viewers got a taste of BET’s first hour-long drama series Being Mary Jane, from Girlfriends creators Salim and Mara Brock Akil, last summer with a TV movie. Now Gabrielle Union returns on Tuesday night at 10 p.m. for Jane‘s first full season as the titular Atlanta news anchor who struggles with her loved ones (including a friend who tries to kill herself), romance (she’s torn between a married suitor and a playboy), and career (contending with journalistic ethics in the face of a Katrina-like disaster). Not exactly lightweight fare.

“I’ve shot a lot of stinkers, and you’re just like, ‘Eh,'” admits the star. “But this one, every day I was like, ‘This is so good.'” She adds, “It’s authentic and it’s brutally honest. You’ll see characters that within an episode you may love, you may hate, you may cry with.”

EW talked to Union, who just got engaged to NBA star Dwayne Wade, about playing such a complicated woman and Jane’s many sex scenes.
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The biggest TV stories of 2013

It was the mother of all years when it came to major TV stories, which made it difficult to whittle them down for a Top 10. So we went with 15, instead!

In no apparent order (though honestly, does any story top the Duck Dynasty one?) here are the year’s 15 biggest newsmakers.

Phil Robertson on Duck Dynasty. Journalists loved the scandal; it gave us something to write about during the dog days of winter. Conservatives (and A&E) hated it because of claims that Duck Dynasty’s home network was squashing Robertson’s right to speak his mind. Ultimately, the Bible-thumping patriarch prevailed, order was restored, and the DD news cycle became the gift that kept giving long after Christmas Day.

Time Warner Cable makes new deal with Viacom

Time Warner Cable and Viacom announced the multi-year renewal of their distribution agreement Tuesday afternoon in a deal that will for the first time make entertainment network EPIX available to subscribers.

Per the agreement, the addition of EPIX, a hybrid premium cable/satellite TV network and subscription video on demand service, will put over 3,000 titles — like The Hunger Games, Skyfall and World War Z – at the fingertips of TWC customers.

Moreover, the deal extension means Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks will continue to offer Viacom staples — Nickelodeon, MTV, VH1, CMT and Comedy Central among them — across all platforms, including the TWC TV app.

“We’re pleased to have reached agreement in advance of our deadline,” TWC executive vice president Melinda Witmer said in a release. “We’re working hard to provide our customers with easier access to the content they love; this agreement will provide a more expansive offering to a wide array of our customers, from parents of young children to comedy and movie lovers and more.”

Additional terms of the agreement — such as the length of the renewal and dollar figures — were not disclosed.

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