Category Archives: Television

Jack Bauer released from jail…”24″ Still Nowhere in Sight

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) — Kiefer Sutherland has been released from jail after serving 48 days on a drunken driving charge, according to a police official.

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Two police spokesmen did not return phone calls seeking confirmation of a story on People magazine’s Web site saying the 41-year-old actor walked out of jail at 12:05 a.m. Monday, hours earlier than had been expected.

But a police official who spoke on condition of anonymity and wasn’t authorized to speak publicly confirmed that Sutherland had been released.

People quoted police Officer John Balian as saying, “(Kiefer) looked like he was glad to be out,” and that Sutherland was wearing a shirt and jeans when he left the facility.

Sutherland — the star of Fox television’s drama, “24” — has spent his sentence cleaning sheets, pillowcases and blankets on laundry duty, Balian told The Associated Press on Friday.

“He was very humble, never complained,” Balian said. “He didn’t give us any problems at all.”

Sutherland pleaded no contest in October to driving with a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit of 0.08 percent. He was sentenced to 30 days, as well as 18 days for violating probation stemming from a 2004 drunken-driving arrest.

After entering his plea last fall, Sutherland issued a statement saying he was “very disappointed in myself for the poor judgment I exhibited recently, and I’m deeply sorry for the disappointment and distress this has caused my family, friends and co-workers.”

He was granted a request to serve his time in suburban Glendale’s city jail rather than in the overcrowded downtown Los Angeles County jail. The trade-off was that he could not shave any time off his sentence for good behavior or early release because of overcrowding.

The actor must also serve five years probation and complete an 18-month alcohol education program and attend weekly therapy sessions for six months. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friendread more | digg story

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Directors, Hollywood Studios Reach a Deal Dude

22222222222.jpg LOS ANGELES – Hollywood directors have reached a tentative contract deal with studios after five days of negotiations, the directors union said Thursday.

The agreement puts pressure on striking writers to end their walkout that has lasted more than two months and idled work on dozens of TV shows.

Entertainment Video

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Bringing American Idol to the visually impaired

The human body, alas, tends to degrade with age. As we get older our waistlines expand, our memory worsens, and senses like hearing and sight can often diminish, thanks to a range of different complaints. When it comes to eyesight, the most common cause of loss of vision is a condition called macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness for those over 50. As you might imagine, patients with macular degeneration have problems when it comes to that great American pastime, watching TV. But that might soon change, thanks to the work of some researchers at Schepens Eye Research Institute in Boston, MA.

Macular degeneration is a disease that affects the center of the retina (or macula), the part of the retina that is responsible for fine detail in the center of our focus. Central vision begins to become blurry and distorted,  and eventually a blind spot forms.  This grows, distorting peripheral vision until sight is lost. Obviously that makes actions such as reading or watching TV more than a little difficult, yet patients with this disease are no less likely to enjoy these activities than you or I.

Now, thanks to research from a team of scientists in Boston, patients with macular degeneration may be able to look forward to settling in for the evening with their digital TVs and American Idol. This is possible thanks to the development of a filtering algorithm that increases the contrast on an MPEG-2 stream in real time, with the result that patients suffering from macular degeneration have a much better chance of discerning the image. Unlike simply boosting the contrast control on your TV, this technique specifically increases contrast over a range of spatial frequencies that people with vision problems have trouble seeing.

24 patients with diminished vision and six healthy control subjects were given a remote control that altered the level of contrast enhancement, and were shown a series of videos. The volunteers could increase the contrast to the point at which the image was most watchable to them. Even the control volunteers reported that increased contrast made the image more easily viewable, and for the vision-impaired, it was found that those with worse sight preferred the highest contrast increase. You can see an example of this filtering in this movie clip.

The lead investigator of this study, Dr Eli Peli, is now working with Analog Devices Inc. to create a chip that could be added to TVs to aid people with affected eye sight. Dr Peli confirmed that the technology is also being adapted to work with newer compression formats such as MPEG-4 and H264, and that interestingly, the results with H.264 were even more promising.

JOSA A, 2008. Vol 24, pp. B174-B187 read more | digg story

Leaked memo: Time Warner Cable to trial hard bandwidth caps

Metered Internet access is a fact of life for many broadband users around the world, but has been largely a nonfactor when it comes to wired broadband in the US. That may change, according to a memo leaked to the Broadband Reports forums. If the memo is to be believed, Time Warner Cable will be rolling out what it calls “Consumption Based Billing” on a trial basis in the Beaumont, Texas area.

Under the proposed scheme, new customers will be able to choose from a couple of different plans with varying bandwidth caps. They’ll be given online tools to monitor usage and will be able to upgrade to the next higher tier of service to avoid charges for exceeding their monthly bandwidth limit. If the trial works well, Time Warner would then roll out bandwidth caps to current customers: “We will use the results of the trial to evaluate results for possible future nationwide rollouts,” reads the memo.

Bandwidth caps have been a sore subject for some users who have found themselves bumping into mysterious, undefined limits. This past fall, a number of Comcast subscribers complained that their service was cut off after having reached Comcast’s bandwidth limit. The problem is that Comcast (and other ISPs) do not publicize what limits they have in place. Comcast’s Acceptable Use Policy, for instance, offers users only a vague warning against “generating levels of traffic sufficient to impede others’ ability to send or retrieve information.”

Absent hard, publicized bandwidth caps, broadband providers’ only alternatives are implementing the kinds of nebulous caps Comcast has been criticized for, engaging in traffic shaping to lighten the burden on the network, or making their networks robust enough to handle demand (I’ll take door number three). Both Comcast and Cox have been pilloried for using forged reset packets to thwart P2P transfers. Cox defends the practice, saying that it’s necessary to “ensure the best possible online experience for customers.”

Putting caps in place as is apparently planned by Time Warner would remove the uncertainty for high-volume users, and would force the heaviest consumers of bandwidth to pay accordingly. The downside is that companies with bandwidth caps could find themselves at a marketing disadvantage to ISPs without set limits.

Time Warner Cable did not immediately respond to a phone call requesting comment on whether the memo is legitimate and it is indeed planning to instituted tiered bandwidth caps.

Update

Although we have been unable to connect with a Time Warner spokesperson, the company has since confirmed the plans to Reuters.

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Olbermann “runs” MSNBC… Fox and Friends livid

olbermanncoulter.jpg Round 172 of the war between MSNBC and Fox News commenced early Wednesday morning.

In a recent article on Keith Olbermann, a senior executive at MSNBC was cited as saying, “Keith runs MSNBC. It’s been an amazing turnaround, because two years ago they were going to cancel him. Because of his success, he’s in charge. Chris Matthews is infuriated by it.”

As interpreted by the hosts of Fox & Friends, this statement means that “the truth according to Keith Olbermann at MSNBC is that he runs things. He’s essentially running the news department.”

The Fox hosts took turns finding reasons to disparage Olbermann’s success, beginning with Gretchen Carlson, who stated insinuatingly, “Keith Olbermann has invented himself several times. He never played sports, but he ended up being a popular sportscaster on ESPN. He’s never really had a political background, but now — in a surprising move, I think, if you’re trying to be objective — he sits in on the political coverage with Chris Matthews.”

Steve Doocy then accused MSNBC of violating truth in advertising standards, saying, “Keith Olbermann’s show, while they consider it and they categorize it as a news show — it’s not a news show. It’s a commentary show. It’s clearly commentary, and how they get away with that, I don’t know.”

Brian Kilmeade continued the same line of attack, quoting two classic Olbermann lines from December 2006, when he called the Republican party “the leading terrorist group in this country” and said to President Bush, “You, sir, have now given us chaos and called it order. You, sir, have now imposed subjugation and called it freedom.”

“That, I believe,” said Kilmeade triumphantly, “is an opinion.”

“And should we be concerned about the next quote?” Carlson chimed in. “‘Fox News is worse than Al-Qaeda.'”

Doocy concluded by attempting to draw a contrast with the situation at Fox, saying, “Sean Hannity is a partisan. … [He and Alan Colmes] don’t do our political coverage, they do commentary. And it’s just extraordinary that MSNBC has got a partisan sitting in the chair, and not only that, he’s running the network.”

Fox’s Bill O’Reilly has engaged in a battle with Olbermann over who’s more “unfair and unbalanced” for a year or so, but the sniping between the cable news networks goes back almost five years.

In 2003, the New York Times reported, “The nascent battle between the Fox News Channel and MSNBC for the hearts and minds of American television viewers has spilled over from news coverage to network promotions and jabs at each other.”

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Oprah Winfrey to Launch Cable Network With Discovery

Oprah Winfrey is getting her own TV network. OWN — for Oprah Winfrey Network — will debut next year in nearly 70dd_oprah_channel_nyet166_t.gif million homes with cable and satellite, part of a deal announced Tuesday with Discovery Communications. It will replace the Discovery Health network.

The announcement builds a media empire that already includes the top-rated TV talk show, a magazine, a satellite radio network, a Web site and TV movies made under her banner.

“This is an evolution of what I’ve been able to do every day,” Winfrey said. “I will now have the opportunity to do this 24 hours a day on a platform that goes on forever.”

She will be chairwoman of the network, owned 50-50 by Discovery and her company, Harpo Productions Inc. In return for taking over a network already operated by Discovery, Winfrey gives half ownership of the Oprah.com Web site.

Discovery owns 13 networks in the United States, including Discovery, TLC and Animal Planet. Discovery Health is one of the least successful, and company President and CEO David Zaslav was looking for ideas about what to do with it when his wife handed him a copy of Oprah’s magazine.

He approached Winfrey about a partnership, coincidentally shortly after she had come upon an entry for her diary dated May 24, 1992, when she wrote about her idea for creating her own network.

“David came and really spoke about the vision I’d been having for 15 years,” she said. “It felt like, `I can’t believe you’re saying this.'”

Zaslav said that Discovery’s core mission is knowledge and curiosity and “this is right in our sweet spot.”

Winfrey envisions the programming dealing with issues such as money, health, weight, relationships and raising children. Some of the stable of in-house experts she uses on “Oprah” and the XM satellite radio station might be expected to contribute.

While Winfrey will be the face of the new network, she won’t have much of a presence, at least at first. She is under contract to continue on “Oprah” through May 2011, a deal that prohibits the use of reruns on her own network.

After that, she could continue her show on broadcast TV or do it for the cable network, and may reach a deal to allow reruns on OWN. Taking “Oprah” off broadcast TV, however, could reduce its visibility and in turn make the cable network less valuable.

Winfrey said she needed to decide this fall whether to continue her syndicated show beyond 2011.

Winfrey was an early and visible investor in the development of Oxygen, a network for women that was created in the 1990s. She said she quickly determined that Oxygen “did not reflect my voice” and she removed herself from the company’s board after a few meetings.

“The difference here is I will have editorial control and there is a vision for what I want to do with this network,” she said.

Oxygen was also a startup in an industry where it’s becoming harder to introduce new networks, while OWN will have the built-in advantage of already being in nearly two-thirds of the nation’s homes with television.

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Wil Wheaton (“Wesley Crusher”) Comes Back To Star Trek

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He appears in his cleaned and pressed Starfleet uniform as the USS Titan’s Assistant Chief Engineer with the rank of Lieutenant Commander. The Titan is the Federation Starship commanded by Captain William Riker of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

Wil starred a the young Wesley Crusher on that now famous Star Trek spin-off show that rejuvenated the Star Trek television franchise with three more spin-off series’. Fans of the Trek franchise literally watched Wheaton (ala Crusher) grown up on the set from an inquisitive young teen to a fine young man. The Next Generation spawned four of its own big screen film features, in which Wheaton appeaed in the final Next Gen film titled “Nemesis.”

The part Wheaton stars in for this new adventure is actually a short video that was shot for the exciting new “Star Trek: The Tour” that opens next Thursday (Jan. 17) in Long Beach, California aboard the famous Queen Mary vessel.

More information can be found on Wil’s blog and for full details about Star Trek: The Tour, go HERE.