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Tuning In to TV

- - Thursday, April 28, 2011

Grisham's 'The Firm' may become NBC series

NBC is in negotiations to pick up a series based on John Grisham's best-selling 1991 novel, "The Firm."

The 22-episode series is being produced by eOne Television in association with Sony Pictures Television Networks Group and Paramount Pictures. Paramount, which produced the 1993 movie of the same name that starred Tom Cruise, owns rights to the novel.

The two-hour pilot script, written by Lukas Reiter, picks up 10 years after the movie left off, with Mitch McDeere having just emerged from the federal witness-protection program after bringing down a Memphis, Tenn., law firm operated by the mob. He and his family soon find their lives are still in danger.

Mr. Reiter developed the project at CBS three years ago and since has rewritten the script. Casting is under way. The project is expected to go into production in Canada in July.

Comcast on-demand deal adds ABC, Fox

The nation's biggest cable-television provider made prime-time shows available on demand from the four biggest broadcasters starting Thursday.

Comcast Corp. said ABC and Fox agreed to join its on-demand lineup, joining CBS and NBC. The company, which provides services to nearly one-fifth of the nation's homes with TV, is the first provider to have the big four commercial broacast networks participate. It has seen an explosion in video on-demand usage - another indication of how the television experience is changing.

Most of these programs are available to order for free the day after they air on the networks' regular schedules, although Fox's "House," for instance, requires an eight-day wait.

Comcast says some popular shows, including "American Idol" and "Modern Family," are not available owing to ownership issues.

New voice chosen for Aflac duck ads

Aflac is betting a TV advertising sales manager from Minnesota has the voice to drive the name "Aflac" into the recesses of your brain and keep it there.

Daniel McKeague, 36, a father of three from Hugo, Minn., beat out 12,500 other contestants to replace actor Gilbert Gottfried and become the new voice of the supplemental insurance company's duck mascot.

Mr. Gottfried was the voice of Aflac's duck in the U.S. for 11 years, but was ousted in March after making insensitive remarks on Twitter about the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, which produces about 75 percent of Aflac's revenue. Aflac soon announced a contest for Mr. Gottfried's replacement.

Mr. McKeague recorded a 30-second clip at KQRS in Minneapolis, where he works, uploaded it to Aflac's website and later did a more formal video audition.

After learning early Tuesday that he was selected for the gig, Mr. McKeague says he's known for doing silly voices.

"Whenever that ad would come on, I would imitate the duck, and the kids loved it," says Mr. McKeague, whose children are 5, 8 and 11.

Executives listened to the three finalists and chose Mr. McKeague for his range and his ability to embody the duck.

"We thought he was the best by far. I can't explain to you why. It just was. Maybe it is part of the mystique of the Aflac duck," says Dan Amos, chairman and CEO of Aflac.

Mr. McKeague gets a one-year contract in the low six figures that the company says likely will be renewed for several years.

Compiled from Web and wire reports.