- - Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Already the one-stop shop for smart and compact home furnishing, Ikea has launched yet another product for your living room: the Ikea TV.

According to the Associated Press, the new furniture line, named Uppleva, the Swedish word for experience, integrates an LED TV, a sound system with wireless bass speakers, an Internet connection, and CD, DVD and Blu-ray players - all in one piece.

Although the TV and the other electronics are made by Chinese manufacturer TCL, Ikea has built everything around them, hiding the masses of cables that can be a nuisance and make a living room look shabby.

To further simplify things, Ikea and TCL have combined all the controls into a single remote control.

The furniture comes in three designs and will be sold first in Sweden, France, Poland, Germany and Italy in June, with a few more markets due to launch in the second half of the year. By the first half of next year, it will be available worldwide, with the cheapest costing about $955.

“We’ve realized that people are watching more TV and are using electronics in their living rooms more and more,” Ikea spokeswoman Ylva Magnusson said. “We came up with this because we found that people want to get rid of the cables and they don’t want those mountains of remote controls either.”

Martin Rask, a 38-year old from Stockholm, said the all-in-one concept sounded interesting but wondered how it could keep up with new technologies.

“The furniture is a tempting idea - I’m wrestling with a bundle of cables at home myself at the moment -but the problem is that so many new things are released all the time,” he said. “I’ve had three different Internet suppliers in the past year for example, and imagine if you had an old VHS player built into your furniture that no one is watching.”

Hezbollah leader interviewed in premiere of Assange show

The opening episode of Julian Assange’s new talk show featured an interview with militant leader Hassan Nasrallah, whose Syria-backed Hezbollah militia is considered a terrorist organization in the United States and Europe.

The half-hour segment aired on Kremlin-backed broadcaster RT on Tuesday and featured questions about Israel, Lebanon, Syria, theology and encryption.

Nasrallah, who rarely gives interviews, largely stuck to well-established positions, but he did reveal that his group had been in touch with opponents of President Bashar Assad, whose bloody crackdown on Syria’s protest movement has claimed thousands of lives.

Nasrallah told Mr. Assange that Hezbollah, long an Assad ally, had “contacted elements of the opposition, to encourage them, to facilitate dialogue with the regime.”

Speaking via video and through a translator, Mr. Nasrallah claimed that Hezbollah had been rebuffed.

The premiere of “The World Tomorrow” marked the launch of Mr. Assange’s unlikely career in television, and a partnership with a Russian state-backed station that many have found uncomfortable.

Mr. Assange said before the broadcast that he anticipated criticism along the lines of: “There’s Julian Assange, enemy combatant, traitor, getting into bed with the Kremlin and interviewing terrible radicals from around the world.”

But he said that RT had a big international reach and his guests had told him things they “could not say on a mainstream TV network.”

‘Modern Family’s‘ Ferguson does cameo for online series

Jesse Tyler Ferguson of “Modern Family” might be a star now, but he remembers those awful days sweating it out in front of casting directors.

“I’ve had many horrible, horrible auditions. They’re tucked away. I try not to remember them. There are too many to name, actually,” he said ruefully. “You go into those situations desperately needing that job. Whether or not you want it or not, you need it to survive - you need the paycheck.”

Mr. Ferguson is revisiting his lean early years in a cameo for “Submissions Only,” an online sitcom that’s wrapping up its second season. It takes a behind-the-scenes look at the life of New York theater hopefuls.

Mr. Ferguson will join some of Broadway’s brightest lights who have made appearances in the series, including Kristin Chenoweth, Chita Rivera and Michael Urie.

“We’ve definitely made friends through this process with people who I would never even dream of going up to at a party and then, suddenly, we’re giving them direction on a set, which is hysterical,” said Andrew Keenan-Bolger, who, with Kate Wetherhead, created, writes and stars in the show.

Each episode begins with an audition and the one featuring Mr. Ferguson - which airs April 27 on BroadwayWorld.com - has him belting out an original song - and eventually crashing and burning.

‘GMA’s‘ ratings win ends 16-year streak for ‘Today’

The 16-year ratings dominance of NBC’s “Today” show, one of television’s most epic streaks, apparently has ended.

According to the Associated Press, the Nielsen Co. said Monday that ABC’s “Good Morning America” beat NBC’s morning show last week by a razor-thin margin of 13,000 viewers.

The “Today” show had won 852 consecutive weeks in the ratings, a streak that began in December 1995 when Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric were the chief anchors.

The streak was a huge point of pride at NBC as the rest of the network declined. Morning shows are also an important revenue source, and a changing of the guard could have significant financial repercussions. The “Today” show earned an estimated $484 million in revenue in 2011, according to Kantar Media, more than “GMA” ($298 million) and CBS’ morning show ($156 million) combined.

NBC this month signed “Today” co-host Matt Lauer to a contract extension that reportedly makes him the highest-paid on-air talent in television news. Mr. Lauer, however, was on vacation last week. David Gregory and Carl Quintanilla subbed for him

“Good Morning America” averaged 5.147 million viewers for the week, to the “Today” show’s 5.134 million, Nielsen said in its fast national estimate. ABC was cautious in its response because the final ratings aren’t due until Thursday and, occasionally, the numbers shift as Nielsen looks for conflicts in local markets.

Co-host George Stephanopoulos, however, tweeted some celebratory remarks.

On Twitter, he thanked “GMA” viewers “for giving us a week we’ll never forget,” adding, “What a milestone!”

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