New NBC Series “Champions” Features 16-Year-Old Out Actor J.J. Totah

Andy Favreau as Matthew, J.J. Totah as Michael, Anders Holm as Vince

Mindy Kaling and her co-producer Charlie Grandy (The Mindy Project; The Office) will see the premiere of their latest TV series, Champions, debut this Thursday night on NBC.

In the show, Brooklyn gym owner Vince (Anders Holm) sees his swinging bachelor life come to a halt when an old high-school fling, Priya (played by Kaling in a guest appearance) arrives from Cleveland with Michael, the 15-year-old son he’s never met.

Michael (played by out actor J.J. Totah) has always dreamed of living in New York City and attending its famed performing arts high school; and mother Priya has no issue getting dad Vince and his not-so-bright bro, Matthew (Andy Favreau) to take over the parenting duties in making Michael’s dream a reality.

“Mindy wanted to tell a fresh New York story,” Grandy told TV Insider. “So we came up with a gay, half-Indian teen from the Midwest.”

In addition to his breakout performance in Other People, you may remember the 16-year-old actor from appearances on Glee, 2 Broke Girls, Sophia The First, and in the super-hero flick Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Champions premieres Thursday, March 8, 8:30/7:30c on NBC

Watch the trailer below.

Adam Rippon Hits Pause On Joining NBC Sports For Now

Adam Rippon will join NBC Sports as commentator/personality for the remainder of the 2018 Winter Olympics

UPDATE: USA Today columnist Christine Brennan reports that Adam rethought the decision to work for NBC Sports for now as it would have meant relinquishing his Olympic standing, credentials and more.

After agreeing to an offer to work for NBC, Adam Rippon @Adaripp decided overnight that he would rather remain as an Olympian, source telling me. Didn’t want to
relinquish his official Olympic standing, give up credential, move out of Team USA housing and miss closing ceremony.

***************************************

Not only did U.S. figure skater Adam Rippon score a bronze medal for his contribution to the team skating event, but “America’s sweetheart” has also booked a gig working for NBC Sports for the remainder of the Winter Games in PyeongChang.

Rippon has emerged as one of PyeongChang’s breakout stars for both his skating and his personality.

Already a bronze medalist in the team figure skating event, the 28-year-old said that even after his 10th place finish in the men’s individual event, he still feels like a winner.

“I think I’ve shown the world that I’m a fierce competitor,” he said. “But I think I’ve shown them that I’m also a fierce human being.”

When asked in December what it’s like to be a gay athlete, the Pennsylvanian answered, “It’s exactly like being a straight athlete. Lots of hard work but usually done with better eyebrows.”

My favorite Rippon-ism: “You know, I’m not like a gay icon, or America’s gay sweetheart. I’m just America’s sweetheart and I’m just an icon.”

Rippon is one of Team USA’s first two openly gay athletes, along with slopestyle skier Gus Kenworthy.

First Trailer For “The Wiz Live!”

After The Sound of Music Live and Peter Pan Live, NBC “eases down the road” to Oz with a new live production of the 1970s hit musical, The Wiz Live!.

Starring Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, Common, Ne-Yo, David Alan Grier, Elijah Kelley, Stephanie Mills, Amber Riley, Uzo Aduba and Shanice Williams as Dorothy.

Airs December 3rd.

Teaser: The Wiz LIVE!

First teaser for NBC’s The Wiz Live!, starring Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, Shanice Williams, David Alan Grier, Ne-Yo, Elijah Kelley, Common and more,

Nice to see the network swing into some diversity here with it’s third holiday musical presentation after The Sound of Music and Peter Pan.


Loving the costume design.

Thursday, December 3 at 8/7c on NBC.

Trailer: HEROES REBORN on NBC

This debuted at Comic Con over the weekend in San Diego. Over 1.3 million views in a day.

I was a big fan of the original 2006 series which lost big momentum when the writer’s strike happened in Hollywood.

From the clip description: The saga behind the 2006 breakout series “Heroes” will continue this fall as creator Tim Kring returns to the fold and develops new layers to his original superhero concept. This highly anticipated 13-episode event series will reconnect with the basic elements of the show’s first season, where ordinary people were waking up to the fact that they had extraordinary abilities.

The new season begins September 24th at 8/7C on NBC.

Donald Trump Says NBC Attempting To Suppress His Freedom Of Speech, Files $500 Million Law Suit

In the wake of the Miss Universe and Miss USA Pageants being dropped by NBC and Univision over Donald Trump’s racist remarks about Mexican immigrants, Trump has filed a $500 million law suit against Univision.

In the suit Trump says Univision is seeking to squash his freedom of speech.

(Actually, he’s perfectly free to express himself. He just needs to realize actions and opinions have consequences.)

Trump claims Univision is attempting to suppress his freedom of speech. Here’s an excerpt from The Trump Organization’s statement via NPR:

“Under the contract, Univision is required to broadcast the pageant live on television in Spanish. While Univision claims its decision came solely in response to comments by Mr. Trump during a June 16 campaign speech announcing his candidacy for President of the United States, the decision was, in reality, a politically motivated attempt to suppress Mr. Trump’s freedom of speech under the First Amendment as he begins to campaign for the nation’s presidency.”

Last year’s host of the Miss Universe pageant, Thomas Roberts of MSNBC, has dropped out of the event, as well has co-host Cheryl Burke.

“In light of the recent statements made by Donald Trump and the subsequent decision by NBC to cut ties with Mr. Trump, I cannot in good conscience move forward with participating in this year’s Miss USA Pageant as its co-host,” Burke wrote on Facebook. “Effective today I have withdrawn from my duties with Miss USA.”

Roberts sent this Tweet on Tuesday: “Best of luck to all #MissUSA2015 contestants this year & THX to the good people behind the scenes @MissUniverse – been a joy working w/you!”

NBC has announced it will not air either pageant even as the Miss USA event is scheduled to go on July 12th.

NBC Announces THE WIZ For Live TV Telecast, Then Major Broadway Revival

NBC announced today that The Wiz (winner of 7 Tony Awards including Best Musical in 1975) will be the next Live musical production on the network with an airdate of December 3rd.

That will be followed by a major Broadway revival to be co-produced with Cirque du Soleil for the 2016-17 season.

Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who produced the previous “The Sound of Music Live” and “Peter Pan Live” telecasts, are back at the helm for this third live, musical presentation.

Tony Award-winning director Kenny Leon will stage both the television production and Broadway revival of “The Wiz” in collaboration with Tony winner and Broadway icon Harvey Fierstein, who will contribute new material to the original Broadway book by William F. Brown.

“We love this yearly tradition and we’re more excited than ever to not only bring another Broadway musical to America’s living rooms, but also see it land on Broadway as well,” said Greenblatt. “It’s a natural next step for our live musical events and we’re so pleased to be in business with this award-winning creative team and Scott Zeiger, President and Managing Director of Cirque du Soleil’s new theatrical division. Cirque’s incredible imagination will help bring the fantasy world of Oz vividly to life and give this great show a modern spin on the age-old story we all love.”

“We are delighted that NBC and Cirque du Soleil will present ‘The Wiz,'” said Zeiger. “It’s a musical I have wanted to produce for years and it’s the perfect show to present under the new Cirque du Soleil Theatrical banner.”

Additional creative staff and casting are to be announced at a later date.

I’ve had mixed feelings about the first two Live musical telecasts, but love the idea of Cirque being involved here.

The Wiz is a terrific score, but as a book musical it remains a bit dated today. With both Cirque and Harvey Fierstein onboard, it sounds promising that the contemporary musical can be brought current again, with new magic added.

The musical made a star out of Stephanie Mills, who went on to a successful recording career after the run of The Wiz on Broadway.

In 1989 she revisited the song “Home,” that made her famous. Watch below.

How Did Peter Pan Live Do In TV Ratings?

So, for those wondering – how did Peter Pan Live compare in terms of ratings last year’s The Sound of Music Live?

The three-hour stage production averaged a 5.9 rating among households –  just over than half of what Sound Of Music did last year with a 10.9 rating.

Peter Pan Live was the NBC’s second-highest rating for a non-sports Thursday in more than two years.

From The Hollywood Reporter:

NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt offered a statement on the numbers early Friday: “We’re very pleased with the Peter Pan ratings and it was a great night for NBC. We won every hour, which hasn’t happened on Thursday with entertainment programming since a year ago. I’m proud to be part of a company that takes chances and creates big events, and that’s exactly what we’re going to continue to do. We didn’t expect to reach the same rating as The Sound of Music since that was the first live movie event of its kind in over 50 years.”

Greenblatt added that plans are already in the works for next year’s live musical event.

NBC announces Allison Williams of HBO’s “Girls” to star in “Peter Pan Live!”

NBC announced today that “Girls” star and classically trained singer Allison Williams has been cast as the iconic title character in NBC’s Dec. 4 telecast of “Peter Pan Live!”

“I have wanted to play Peter Pan since I was about three years old, so this is a dream come true,” said Williams. “It’s such an honor to be a part of this adventure, and I’m very excited to get to work with this extraordinarily talented team. And besides,” added Williams, “what could go wrong in a live televised production with simultaneous flying, sword fighting and singing?”

According to press materials, Williams, who has sung on HBO’s “Girls” and in various other projects, is an accomplished actress and singer. Williams graduated from Yale University in 2010.

I see a lot of hyping about her being “classically trained singer” but haven’t found any credits for stage musicals yet.  I like to be positive, but after Carrie Underwood’s underwhelming performance in  “The Sound of Music Live!” last December, you have to think NBC has really thought this one out.

It was previously announced that Oscar winner and Emmy and Tony Award nominee Christopher Walken will star as Captain Hook in the Dec. 4 telecast.

(from BroadwayWorld)