- - Wednesday, June 22, 2011

‘Mad Men’s‘ Jon Hamm inks three-season deal

Don Draper is getting job security and a raise.

Jon Hamm, who plays 1960s advertising executive Draper on AMC’s “Mad Men,” has signed a new contract with series studio Lionsgate Television Group, according to the Associated Press. Mr. Hamm’s publicist, Slate PR, said Tuesday that the deal keeps him with the show for three more years.

The actor will receive a substantial raise for the upcoming fifth season. By the contract’s final year, he’ll earn more than $250,000 an episode, Variety.com reported, citing unidentified sources.

Mr. Hamm had been signed through season six of “Mad Men.” The new deal keeps him on board through the seventh season.

Series creator Matthew Weiner signed a contract in March for a sixth season and a possible seventh. Mr. Weiner’s protracted negotiations delayed the show’s return from this year to early 2012.

Olbermann pleased with Current TV debut

Current TV is celebrating Keith Olbermann’s debut performance, the Associated Press reports.

According to Nielsen Co. ratings, Mr. Olbermann’s new “Countdown” drew 179,000 viewers ages 25 to 54, the young adult demographic favored by advertisers.

In comparison, “The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox News Channel had 735,000 young adult viewers. On MSNBC, Mr. Olbermann’s replacement, Lawrence O’Donnell, drew 237,000 such viewers, while CNN’s Eliot Spitzer had 89,000.

In a statement, Current TV said it was happy with the show’s start. Mr. Olbermann pronounced himself pleased but cautioned that “Countdown” needs time to settle in.

Mr. Olbermann bolted from MSNBC five months ago, bringing “Countdown” and his left-leaning point of view to Current TV, which was co-founded by former Vice President Al Gore.

Miss USA judge Jillette ‘glad’ Miss Tennessee lost

Magician and Miss USA judge Penn Jillette said he’s happy a pageant queen from Tennessee fell short to Miss California Alyssa Campanella because her onstage answer to a question about burning Korans ran afoul of the First Amendment, according to the Associated Press.

The vocal half of illusionist duo Penn and Teller wrote on Twitter that he’s glad to have helped Miss Tennessee Ashley Durham lose the Miss USA competition Sunday night. Miss Campanella will represent the country in the Miss Universe pageant in September in Brazil, while Miss Durham placed second.

“She negated the whole First Amendment,” Mr. Jillette wrote in a tweet Sunday night. “Glad to help her lose.”

He further said Miss Durham was fine in expressing disdain for religious burnings but shouldn’t have advocated taking away freedoms.

With four competitors left gunning for the crown, Miss Durham was asked a question posed by celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito about whether burning religious books, including the Muslim holy book, should be afforded the same constitutional protections as flag burning. She struggled in her response but said it crossed a line and shouldn’t be allowed.

“I know that some people view it as a freedom of speech, however, burning the American flag is not patriotic at all,” Miss Durham said. “No American citizen should do that, and you should also respect other religions. I’m a Christian and a faithful person. I would personally not appreciate someone burning the Bible, and that’s just a line you do not cross.”

Miss Durham fired back at Mr. Jillette in a statement issued Tuesday through state pageant officials, saying she’s disappointed with Mr. Jillette’s reaction. She said it’s uncalled for that he would delight in shooting down her dreams.

It was not clear whether Mr. Jillette’s vote swung the competition against Miss Durham. Miss USA officials did not immediately respond to messages from the Associated Press seeking comments about the ballots.

‘True Blood’ creator in talks for season five

With season four of HBO’s vampire hit “True Blood” premiering Sunday, creator Alan Ball is in talks to return for a fifth season of the Anna Paquin hit.

“Right now I’m in the middle of negotiating for a fifth season,” Mr. Ball told the Hollywood Reporter at the show’s season-four premiere in Hollywood on Tuesday. “I don’t know if I have any left in me after that. We’ll see.”

The show runner, whose resume also includes the cable network’s critical favorite “Six Feet Under,” added that he could see the show based on Charlaine Harris’ 13-book Sookie Stackhouse series “going a few more seasons.”

“I think if we did 13 seasons we’d have to address why vampires are aging,” Mr. Ball joked.

Mr. Ball said the show’s fourth season has been “really tough,” and while he’s happy with it, he’s “ready to take a big vacation right now.”

“I’ll play it by ear and see how it happens,” he said.

Mr. Ball first hinted at the series continuing without him this month in an interview with Rolling Stone in which he said, “I don’t believe ‘True Blood’ is 100 percent dependent on my participation. It has a strong following and a really strong cast, and there could be a future where I step back and the show would continue.”

TLC plans special for Lachey-Minnillo wedding

If you haven’t received an invitation to the wedding of Nick Lachey and Vanessa Minnillo, don’t worry. TLC will air “Nick & Vanessa’s Dream Wedding,” a special that will air just weeks after the couple’s wedding date, People.com reports. The couple are keeping the date a secret.

Mr. Lachey, 37, and Miss Minnillo, 30, have been dating since 2006 and were engaged last fall. He and ex-wife Jessica Simpson documented their own wedding and early married life on MTV’s “Newlyweds.”

“We’re lucky to have such passionate and loving fans, and we thought partnering with TLC on this special would be the best way to share the exciting journey we’re on with all the people that support us and our relationship,” Mr. Lachey and Miss Minnillo said in a statement.

The special will feature footage from their joint wedding shower, Miss Minnillo’s wedding dress search and the ceremony itself.

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