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<p>&quot;The Quest&quot;</p>

"The Quest"

Credit: ABC

TV Rating: 'The Quest' premiere is weak as 'Big Brother' leads CBS Thursday

'NY Med' adds viewers to help ABC to second overall

Fast National ratings for Thursday, July 31, 2014.

With "Big Brother" and a "Big Bang Theory" repeat leading the way, CBS scored its regular Thursday wins in all measures.

The night's big notable was ABC's "The Quest," which got off to a soft start, particularly among male viewers.

Thursday returns were on the low side, with "Big Brother" losing a couple viewers but remaining flat in the key demo, "Welcome to Sweden" dipping and "Gang Related" falling a bit without "Hell's Kitchen" as a lead-in. ABC's "Rookie Blue" was also down in viewers.

The news was slightly better for ABC's "NY Med," which rose a bit overall.

On to the numbers...

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Kathie Lee Gifford producing a 'Today' musical

Kathie Lee Gifford producing a “Today” musical
The 18-minute “Today: The Musical” will feature a cameo by Regis Philbin, who was filling for Hoda Kotb this morning.

ABC’s “The Quest” has a disappointing debut
Just 2.8 million watched the medieval reality show.

Julia Roberts and Jimmy Fallon throw big balls at each other’s face
Watch the latest “Tonight Show” viral stunt.

“Nathan For You” is auctioning off its “Dumb Starbucks” art
You can own some of Nathan Fielder’s parody “art pieces.”

Here’s your 1st look at the movie Jon Stewart directed last summer
Gael García Bernal stars in “Rosewater.”

Julia Louis-Dreyfus got in trouble with Facebook over her naked Rolling Stone cover
The “Veep” star talks to Letterman about the John Hancock controversy and getting locked out of Facebook after spoofing her cover with a naked baby.

Kerry Washington gives Jimmy Fallon the “Scandal” season premiere script
The only problem: nearly everything was redacted. PLUS: Kimmel bussed his entire audience 5 miles to watch Tom Petty perform at Sony Studios in Culver City.

Read Nathan Fillion’s forward to Joss Whedon’s biography
"Joss Whedon's version of a hero doesn't always win. He loses more than he wins,” Fillion explains in the forward to "Joss Whedon: The Biography.”

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NBC renews 'Undateable' for a second season
Credit: NBC

NBC renews 'Undateable' for a second season

Chris D'Elia-driven comedy will be back for 10 episodes at some point

It turns out that being held for late May and then burnt off at a rate of two episodes per week wasn't a kiss of death for "Undateable."

The multi-cam comedy has been renewed for a second season with the news breaking, as it so often seems to, via Twitter on Thursday (July 31) evening, starting with star Chris D'Elia, followed by executive producer Bill Lawrence, whose optimism for the future of "Undateable" never waned.

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NBC renews 'Undateable'

NBC renews "Undateable"
The summer buddy comedy from Bill Lawrence will be back for a 2nd season.

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Recap: 'Big Brother' Thursday - 5th Eviction and a Non-Showmance in Jeopardy
Credit: CBS

Recap: 'Big Brother' Thursday - 5th Eviction and a Non-Showmance in Jeopardy

Will Caleb no longer be able to stalk Amber or did God let Jocasta go home?

First off, special thanks to Ryan McGee for filling in last week when Louis and I were up to our necks in Comic-Con.

Second off, can we please put an end to Caleb/Amber as an available pairing? Other than serving as stealth promotion for CBS' "Stalker," the non-showmance has accomplished nothing beyond sheer creepiness. And since "Stalker" is horrible, I'm not sure that stealth promotion for it is something I want to endorse away. 

Will the hamsters send Amber home? 

Let's find out...

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'It’s Always Sunny’s' Rob McElhenney is coming to 'The Mindy Project'

“It’s Always Sunny’s” Rob McElhenney is coming to “The Mindy Project”
He’ll guest as Ike Barinholtz’s cousin.

Brands tried jumping on the “Sharknado 2” bandwagon
Companies from Victoria’ Secret to Bud Lite to Dominoes to Ritz crackers all had “Sharknado”-themed tweets on hand during the Syfy movie. PLUS: Tara Reid releasing “Shark” perfume, why “Sharknado 2” was so glorious, where does it rank among sh*tty movies?, “Sharknado 2” inspires Internet memes, the ratings weren’t spectacular, and “Sharknado 2” is the future of television.

“Galavant” casts John Stamos as a singing knight
He’ll guest as Galavant’s longtime rival. PLUS: Introducing “Sad Full House."

“Homeland” adds Mark Moses, plus 2 others
The “Desperate Housewives” and “Mad Men” alum will join Indian actress Nimrat Kaur and “True Lies” star Art Malik in Season 4.

“Mad Men” is No. 1 in viewers skipping ads
TiVo compiled a list of the Top 10 TV shows for ad-skipping from the first half of this year, and AMC had three and FX had three.

“Once Upon a Time” unveils “Frozen” photos
Check out Sven the reindeer.

“Lost” has been huge for Hawaii’s economy
Not only did the ABC drama help Hawaii get through the recession, but it also led to other TV shows and movie projects to film on the islands.

Watch Julia Louis-Dreyfus & Jerry Seinfeld sing a duet of “Sixteen Going On Seventeen” from 2000
“The Late Show” today posted this clip from its archives. PLUS: Louis-Dreyfus talked to Dave about “Seinfeld” turning 25.

UCLA flooding forces Teen Choice Awards to seek a new home
This year’s show was scheduled to take place Aug. 10 at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion, which is currently recovering from water damage.

Watch Stephen Colbert give “Ask a Grown Man” advice
Colbert answered questions from teens about growing up in a special web video. PLUS: James Franco tried to get Colbert to break character.

Robin Roberts’ alleged stalker arrested
Troy Warren, 42, shows up outside ABC’s Times Square studios eight times last month, claiming the “GMA” star owed him money.

Why do people hate Allison Williams?
Is the “Girls” and “Peter Pan Live” star too closely identified with Marnie?

Uzo Aduba: I never wanted to play “Crazy Eyes” as “crazy”
Read what the “Orange is the New Black” star said in her Reddit AMA. PLUS: Laverne Cox talks about her Emmy nomination with Seth Meyers.

Bravo to begin showing “Real Housewives of Melbourne”
The Australian spinoff debuts on Sunday.

“Nathan For You” actually does have good business tips
As Christy O’Shoney notes, "for a show that mocks American marketing strategies, 'Nathan for You' offers some surprisingly savvy entrepreneurial advice. Watching this show has almost made me want to launch my own company just so I can put these biz tips into action.” PLUS: How “Nathan For You” blows up reality TV.

“The Quest” is the inevitable “Game of Thrones”-inspired reality show
The ABC series mixes reality with Medieval Times. PLUS: Why medieval fiction and reality TV should never meet.

SundanceTV’s timely “The Honorable Woman” manages to navigate the complex Israel-Palestine conflict
"Any series that takes on the Israel-Palestine conflict and does not immediately wander into a morass has accomplished something difficult,” says Willa Paskin. "It takes its subject absolutely as seriously as it should, and in the endless complexity of motivation, the depth of grievance, the weight of history, the impossibility of honor—it oversimplifies very little.” PLUS: Its themes or both topical and eternal, it’s a lavish homage to John le Carré, and it’s Maggie Gyllenhaal’s best performance yet.

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Janet Jackson

Reports: Janet Jackson back at work on first album since 2008

She has been recording in Qatar and Paris

Is Janet Jackson back in the studio working on her first album since 2008’s “Discipline?”

According to her sound engineer, the answer is a resounding yes. In an interview with Barefoot Sound  (h/t Idolator),  Grammy-winning producer/engineer Ian Cross says he has been recording Jackson around the world.

“We’ve been working in Qatar. We’ve been working in Paris, the Middle East, and now we feel like we can work anywhere,” he says.

As far as the direction, he says “we’re going to be doing things that are completely unexpected that nobody’s seen before… The new album is going to be great. It’s a process. There’s a lot in store, yet to come. I can’t go into too many details but I think Janet Jackson’s fans are going to be very excited about the new album, and I think people who don’t know her as fans are going to be excited about it, too. The new paradigm of music, the real people in music now, are blending technology and music together. It’s becoming more and more seamless.”

The two first began working together in 2007, when he produced the vocals for “Discipline.”  He now works full time for Jackson.


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<p>Maggie Gyllenhaal of &quot;The Honorable Woman&quot;</p>

Maggie Gyllenhaal of "The Honorable Woman"

Credit: SundanceTV

TV Review: 'The Honorable Woman' is another SundanceTV winner

Maggie Gyllenhaal shines in Hugo Blick's complex, occasionally ponderous, miniseries

Mike Leigh's 1996 drama "Secrets & Lies" is a very good movie, at times even a great movie. It's full of great performances, rich thematic underpinnings and, like so many Mike Leigh films, fine naturalistic dialogue.

But then it also has that scene where Timothy Spall's Maurice wails, "Secrets and lies! We're all in pain! Why can't we share our pain? I've spent my entire life trying to make people happy, and the three people I love the most in the world hate each other's guts, and I'm in the middle! I can't take it anymore!"

I've never quite been sure what Mike Leigh wanted that speech to accomplish. 

Did he really think, "Without this, nobody will know why we called this movie 'Secrets & Lies' and audiences will leave disgruntled"? 

Did he think, "Yes, viewers will probably get what the movie is about, but there's no harm in underlining it just a little"?

Or did he just figure that speech was the key to Spall getting an Oscar nomination and he left it in because we all know Mike Leigh is deeply invested in award recognition for his movies?

I tend to suspect option "B," because nobody ever placed the requirement of "subtlety" on great art. Sometimes artists like to make sure they're understood, even if a largely inert sponge probably would have gotten the point anyway.

Hugo Blick's eight-part miniseries "The Honorable Woman" -- I really, really want to call it "The Honourable Woman," but once you open the door to British spelling, that door can never be closed -- is a nuanced and occasionally gripping political thriller bursting with strong performances, anchored by the clearly Emmy-worthy Maggie Gyllenhaal. It's also really, really worried that you won't understand what's happening beneath-the-surface and I'm not sure that I've ever seen a movie or TV program spend so much time directly articulating and then repeating its underlying themes. 

It's an odd combination, because while writer-director-producer Blick has almost no faith in the audience's ability to parse this text for its message on truth, lies, secrets and the Middle East, he's reasonably confident that viewers will be able to follow a fragmented narrative that withholds key pieces of information for long stretches. So "The Honorable Woman" is probably the most subtle and least subtle thing you're likely to watch on TV this month, which actually makes it of a piece with a lot of SundanceTV's original programming, which could practically have the tagline, "Pay Close Attention: We're Only Going To Tell You This 50 Times." [SundanceTV placed two shows in my Top 10 for 2013, so don't take this necessarily as a damning criticism. I like things that are both obtuse and willing to beat you over the head with a mallet.]

More on "The Honorable Woman" after the break...

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James Gunn on the tactile world of 'Guardians' and why they get to know the big secret
Credit: HitFix

James Gunn on the tactile world of 'Guardians' and why they get to know the big secret

This is a man who loves the characters he's writing and directing

My first interactions with James Gunn were, to put it lightly, awkward thanks to the particularly strident way in which Harry Knowles took him to task over his work on "Scooby-Doo." I respect the way Gunn has built a career out of a a start in the Troma factory, not a given by any means, and he's been true to his voice as he's worked on larger and larger films, something else that isn't easy.

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Guillermo Del Toro previews 'Crimson Peak' and calls Legendary 'a filmmaker's home'
Credit: HitFix

Guillermo Del Toro previews 'Crimson Peak' and calls Legendary 'a filmmaker's home'

Could 'Hellboy 3' happen after Comic-Con's surprise reaction?

If I were asked to make a list of my favorite people, I'm sure Guillermo Del Toro would take up at least three or four spots on the list all by himself.

Sure, he's an amazing visual artist, with a rich and detailed imagination that seems to have no limits in scope or variety, and that is something you have to value in an age where we finally have technology that can keep up with him.

And, yes, I think he's got a wicked sense of humor that comes out only in the overtly comic moments in his movies but also in the way he plays things straight. He's not above playing around with the audience and the way they expect things to unfold. He'll tell you a story and he'll stick it to you with some violation of convention, and if you're onboard, you'll laugh, and if you're not, you'll wonder what kind of madman has control of the camera.

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'Sharknado 2: The Second One' breaks Syfy records including meaningless Twitter milestone
Credit: Syfy

'Sharknado 2: The Second One' breaks Syfy records including meaningless Twitter milestone

Tangibly, 'Sharknado 2' nearly triples the ratings for its predecessor

Last August, Syfy's "Sharknado" premiered to a, um, sharknado of Twitter attention, but almost no live audience. 

That appears not to have been a problem for Wednesday's (July 30) premiere of "Sharknado 2: The Second One."

Syfy boasts that "Sharknado 2" drew 3.9 million viewers, including 1.6 million in the key 18-49 demographic. The original "Sharknado" drew under 1.4 million viewers total, so that's not unimpressive.

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Katy Perry

Katy Perry creates a visual feast with 'This Is How We Do' video

Is she taking a swipe at Lady Gaga in her new Rolling Stone interview?

Katy Perry’s video for “This Is How We Do” has a little something for everyone and may even top her own record for the most costume changes in one clip.

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