The 'Today' Show Got Embarrassed

Today in show business news: Today gets upset by a pretty lowly competitor last week, How to Survive a Plague may get the ABC miniseries treatment, and a new Disney musical is based on Shakespeare of all things.

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Here's a grim little tidbit that further illustrates the slow swan dive of the Today show. During sweeps week, which was last week, Today was beat in the New York City market, where the show is filmed, by Fox's local morning show Good Day New York. Yes, more people here in the New York City area watched the rinky-dink local program than watched the big national morning show. Well, if not necessarily more people, Good Day at least got better Nielsen ratings. This is the first time this has happened since "the introduction of the Local People Meters." Which— wait, what? "Local People Meters"?? That sounds incredibly sinister, doesn't it? I do not want to know what the Local People Meters are really there for. Yikes. But, yes, the local morning show starring Ray Kelly's perpetual goof screw-up of a son beat Today. Not very good news for them. Oh, and Good Morning America saw a record ratings surge. So. Yikes. [Deadline]

Hm. It seems that David France's excellent documentary How to Survive a Plague — about ACT UP and the early days of the AIDS awareness movement — is going to be turned into an ABC miniseries. I "hm" because on the one hand the more attention brought to the documentary and the story it tells the better (and hopefully this means the filmmakers got some money), but a miniseries about it on ABC is... not so good. An HBO miniseries? Terrific, absolutely, sign me up. But on ABC? I dunno. Whenever network TV has tried to do historical miniseries in the recent-ish past it's not ended well. A rep from ABC Studios points out that "ABC is the network of Roots," which is true, but times have changed and TV has changed and I just don't see network television doing a very credible job of telling this story. For one thing you can't swear, for f-ck's sake. Not that swearing is necessarily integral to the story, but if they want to show real people, well real people, especially angry ones, especially angry ones in New York City, tend to swear. That's just a small example of a problem. A bigger example is advertisers. I dunno. I want the film to get more attention, but this might not be the right kind. [The New York Times]

Hotshot young theater director Alex Timbers (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Peter and the Starcatcher) has been tapped by Disney to direct a movie musical that's a contemporary adaptation of a Shakespeare play. The script is written, but we don't know what Shakespeare play they're talking about. Midsummer? As You Like It? King John? It's probably the King John. Everyone loves that play, it's a real crowd-pleaser. Well, whatever play it is, this could be a very exciting project. Or it could be deeply silly. It is Disney after all. Only time will tell. [Deadline]

Allison Janney has landed a multi-episode arc on the upcoming Showtime series Masters of Sex. That's the one that has Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan playing sex researchers in the 1950s and '60s. Janney will play the wife of the provost of the university where the research is being conducted. Presumably her character will either be horrified by all the research or titillatingly intrigued. This show's cast is shaping up — Beau Bridges and Margo Martindale will also appear — and we are increasingly intrigued. Don't let us down, Showtime. (They're probably going to let us down.) [The Hollywood Reporter]

Idina Menzel will be returning to Broadway for the first time since she opened the big boffo bananas blockbuster Wicked. The guys who wrote the Pulitzer-winning (ugh) Next to Normal have written a show called If/Then just for her. The is about a woman about to turn 40 who moves to New York City to start a new life. It is described this way: "Set against the ever-shifting landscape of modern day Manhattan, If/Then is a romantic and original new musical about how choice and chance collide and how we learn to love the fallout." So... That could either be a dreamy, thoughtful delight or a hokey mess. Hard to tell! Some people loved Next to Normal and some people (ahem) did not. Regardless, it will be intriguing to see Menzel back on the big stage. It's been ten years since Wicked opened! How the hell did that happen? [Playbill]

Here's a trailer for Aaron Eckhart's version of Taken. It is called Erased. But really it's Taken: Eckhart Edition.

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