- - Wednesday, December 14, 2011

President Obama a fan of “Boardwalk Empire”

President Obama says he’s a fan of two popular cable TV shows: HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” and Showtime’s “Homeland.”

First lady Michelle Obama and the couple’s daughters, 13-year-old Malia and 10-year-old Sasha, enjoy watching ABC’s “Modern Family.”

Mr. and Mrs. Obama talked to People magazine about life in the White House, from Facebook and helping their daughters with classroom assignments to their favorite TV shows and reading habits. Mrs. Obama says their daughters are “settled, they’re healthy [and] thriving.”

Asked about favorite TV shows, Mrs. Obama said, “For the girls and me, ‘Modern Family,’ that’s our favorite show.” The comedy is about three related Los Angeles-area households.

The president said, “I’m a little darker,” telling the magazine that he enjoys “Boardwalk Empire,” a drama depicting Prohibition-era Atlantic City, and “Homeland,” a psychological thriller about a CIA officer trying to unravel a suspected terrorist plot.

Mrs. Obama says her husband has urged Malia to read the classics, so she’s reading John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Tender Is the Night.” Mrs. Obama says Toni Morrison’s “Song of Solomon” is her favorite book, and “I’m interested in hearing how she interprets it.”

The president said he doesn’t let his daughters on Facebook. He said they told him, “Why would we want to have a whole bunch of people who we don’t know knowing our business?”

The first couple said their daughters don’t need much help with school work anymore and are “remarkably self-sufficient.” The president said sometimes Malia asks for help with a list of 75 vocabulary words. “She’ll say, ‘Read them to me, and I’m going to write them out so that I can spell them right.’ ” Mrs. Obama jokes. “That’s excruciating.”

In 2008, Obama promised his daughters a dog and his wife a date night after the election. This time, “They basically have a blank check. Whatever she demands, she will get.”

NFL renews deals with CBS, Fox and NBC

The NFL has renewed its television deals with CBS, Fox and NBC for nine years through the 2022 season, the league announced Wednesday.

The current contracts expire after the 2013 season.

The deals will also expand the number of Thursday night games on NFL Network, but the league has not determined how many additional contests will be aired.

“These agreements underscore the NFL’s unique commitment to broadcast television that no other sport has,” commissioner Roger Goodell said. “The agreements would not have been possible without our new 10-year labor agreement and the players deserve great credit. Long-term labor peace is allowing the NFL to continue to grow and the biggest beneficiaries are the players and fans.”

Earlier this season, the NFL and ESPN reached an eight-year extension to keep “Monday Night Football” on the cable channel through the 2021 season.

CBS, Fox and NBC will each televise three Super Bowls during the term of the contracts, continuing the current rotation.

The nine-year terms are the longest for NFL television agreements with over-the-air broadcast networks. The previous longest were the eight-year deals with CBS, Fox and ABC from 1998 to 2005.

CBS will continue to show the AFC package Sunday afternoons, as it has since 1998, while Fox still has the NFC package it first acquired in 1994.

“Sunday Night Football” will remain on NBC, which picked it up in 2006. The network will add the annual Thanksgiving prime-time game starting in 2012.

Flexible scheduling will stay in effect to ensure quality late-season matchups on Sunday late afternoons and nights. It will be expanded in 2014, with the details yet to be worked out.

Movie stars get SAG nods for TV roles

“It’s no surprise to see Kate Winslet, Kathy Bates and Maggie Smith among a list of acting nominees. What is a bit of a shock is to find them all being recognized for their work in television. This year’s SAG Awards nominations feature a large group of actors well known for their film work (some of whom have won Oscars) landing nominations for their efforts in television,” the Los Angeles Times’ Nicole Sperling wrote on the newspaper’s movie blog, 24 Frames.

“It reinforces the power shift that’s been occurring between TV and film for the last decade, with more and more distinguished talent opting for the small screen.

“Winslet received a SAG Award nomination for her work in HBO’s ‘Mildred Pierce,’ while her work in Roman Polanski’s film ‘Carnage’ was ignored. Glenn Close received two nods, one for her passion-film project ‘Albert Nobbs’ and another for her TV role as Patty Hewes in the drama series ‘Damages.’

“Diane Lane, who was nominated for an Oscar for her role in 2002’s ‘Unfaithful,’ landed a SAG nomination on Wednesday for her work in the TV movie ‘Cinema Verite,’ which centered on America’s first reality-TV family, the Louds. Two-time Oscar winner Smith was recognized by SAG for her work in ‘Downton Abbey,’ while two-time Oscar nominee Emily Watson secured a nomination for her role in Sundance Channel’s ‘Appropriate Adult.’

HBO’s ‘Too Big to Fail,’ a recent series on the crisis in the U.S. banking system, featured past Oscar nominees Paul Giamatti and James Woods; both got SAG nominations on Wednesday. (Woods, who’s been nominated for Oscars twice in his career, received a SAG nomination for his role as Richard Fuld while Giamatti, who received an Oscar nomination for ‘Cinderella Man,’ played Ben Bernanke.) Greg Kinnear, nominated for an Oscar in 1998, landed a SAG nod for his role in the controversial miniseries ‘The Kennedys.’

“With actors being afforded such a wide swath of opportunities in television — from playing period characters to presidents — it’s little surprise the medium is attracting such high-caliber performers.”

Oprah’s new network takes on major challenges

” ‘Oprah’s Next Chapter’ debuts Jan. 1, the first anniversary of Winfrey’s cable channel, but with executive turnover, $254 million spent and increased pressure to raise carriage fees, insiders reveal a network with big challenges.

“Last year, as Oprah Winfrey was attempting to set up lucrative carriage deals for her new TV network, she decided to negotiate personally with the executives at Comcast, the nation’s largest cable operator,” according to the Hollywood Reporter.

“Winfrey traveled to the company’s Philadelphia headquarters in the hope that a little Oprah magic would result in handsome fees for her joint venture with Discovery Communications. But according to multiple sources with direct knowledge of the meeting, Comcast executives not only rebuffed Winfrey but characterized her pitch as ‘greedy’ for an unproven network. After that, Winfrey did not attend other such meetings.

“The rude awakening is indicative of Winfrey’s struggle to turn OWN into the kind of powerhouse she presided over during her 25 years as the queen of daytime TV — a struggle that has taken on a new sense of urgency as Winfrey returns to television with the launch of her weekly interview show Jan. 1, OWN’s first anniversary.”

c Compiled from Web and wire service reports.