- - Monday, July 23, 2012

Fox says Mariah Carey is joining “American Idol” as a new judge.

The network’s entertainment chief, Kevin Reilly, announced her signing to a meeting of the Television Critics Association on Monday, and then put Ms. Carey on speaker phone to confirm the deal.

“I am so excited to be joining ‘American Idol,’ ” she said. “This kind of all just happened really quickly.”

Earlier this month, Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez said they were leaving “American Idol” after two years as judges.

Ms. Carey had been courted by “Idol,” and as one of music’s best-selling singers she could bring the star power it needs to compete with rivals like “The X Factor,” which recently added Britney Spears and Demi Lovato as judges.

Earlier Monday, veteran “Idol” executive producer Nigel Lythgoe said there’s a slender possibility that Ms. Lopez might return. His reasoning: Since she told “Idol” host Ryan Seacrest she was 99 percent sure she was leaving, that means there’s a 1 percent chance she won’t, Mr. Lythgoe said Monday.

Customized Facebook video promotes Starz’ ‘Boss’

Premium TV service Starz Entertainment is launching a personalized video experience via Facebook Connect to promote the second season of “Boss.”

The online offer, called “Price for Power,” is designed to give people a look inside the world of protagonist Mayor Tom Kane (Kelsey Grammer) without the need for any knowledge of politics or the show, which returns Aug. 17.

Once users allow “Price for Power” to tap into data from their Facebook profile, it provides a video customized with photos and other information from the user’s profile on the social network. No matter how often a user watches, a somewhat different video is offered due to a range of customization and randomization options.

The experience wants to “invite users into a Machiavellian world where you are the political elite, have the clout to change lives (for the better or worse) and rule over a political machine that rewards those with power and control,” a Starz statement said. “Your personal Facebook information is transposed securely and populated into a virtual universe akin to that of Mayor Kane.”

Users can, among other things, see their own campaign advertisements on display, friends disappear from their virtual Facebook page and family question the person they have become.

“The allure and corruptibility of political power was the perfect backdrop to ‘Price for Power’ and a virtual experience like no other,” said Kelly Bumann, senior vice president of digital marketing for Starz Entertainment. “The Facebook Connect technology platform provides a seamless vehicle for you to see what life could be like if you were the one in control and the ramifications that could ripple through your social network as a result.”

While other media companies have used similar tools before, “the amount of personalization we are offering is pretty unrivaled,” Ms. Bumann said.

Why is this the right way to help promote “Boss”? Said Ms. Bumann: ” ‘Boss’ is much less a show about politics and much more about the incredible allure of power and the methods those with it will sometimes use to preserve it. ‘Price for Power’ gives you a taste of this virtual social media reality.”

Patrick Stewart among Olympic torch bearers

The Olympic flame is boldly going to Wimbledon.

Actor Patrick Stewart, best known as Captain Jean-Luc Picard in “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” was set to take a turn on the torch relay Monday. The star-studded journey also will feature tennis stars Venus Williams and Andy Murray, who will carry the flame to Wimbledon in southwest London.

The flame also is scheduled to pass through the set of the long-running British soap opera, “EastEnders.”

The torch relay is on its final leg, touring the neighborhoods of host city London before being taken to the Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony on Friday.

The 70-day journey has seen it go to the Channel Islands, the farthest corners of Scotland, and national landmarks such as Stonehenge and Mount Snowdon.

‘Downton Abby’ cast teases with season 3 sneak peek

A “Downton Abbey” sneak peek at season three revealed that fireworks will fly between matriarchs played by Maggie Smith and newcomer Shirley MacLaine. The aristocratic Crawley family will endure a financial crisis. And, despite the engagement of Matthew and Mary at the end of last season, all is not well — gasp! — with the pair played by Dan Stevens and Michelle Dockery.

PBS showed brief clips from next season to the Television Critics Association on Saturday before a panel discussion with cast members and producers of the international hit. They took a break from taping in London to meet reporters in Beverly Hills.

Their visit followed a strong showing by “Downton Abbey” in Thursday’s Emmy nominations with 16 bids, including best drama series.

In one scene shared by PBS, Hugh Bonneville’s Robert Crawley, also known as Lord Grantham, is shown confessing to his wealthy American wife Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) about an investment gone wrong.

Matthew and Mary, who traveled a rocky road to what looked like blissful marriage, are shown in an angry confrontation in which she accuses him of disloyalty to the family.

Tart dialogue involving Ms. MacLaine’s Martha and Ms. Smith’s Violet, the dowager countess, also looks to be a hallmark of season three. It begins airing in September in the U.K. and next January on PBS.

Series creator Julian Fellowes said the next season will encompass about two years at the start of the 1920s. Among the plot points to be resolved: What happens to John Bates, Lord Grantham’s valet who was convicted last season of murdering his wife and barely escaped the gallows.

• Compiled from Web and wire reports.



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