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Nicole Richie is new kid on block in Tina Fey TV comedy

Nicole Richie is the new kid on the comedy block in an upcoming NBC workplace comedy from Tina Fey.

The reality star and jewelry designer co-stars with Andrea Martin and Horatio Sanz of "Saturday Night Live" fame in "Great News," set in a television newsroom. The show debuts April 25.

"I auditioned a few times. I had no idea what I was walking into," Richie told a TV critics gathering on Wednesday. "They all kind of knew each other and I was the new kid on the block. They welcomed me with open arms."

Fey, who serves as executive producer along with her former "30 Rock" cohorts Robert Carlock and Jack Burditt, was supportive of Richie, having watched her years ago on the reality show "The Simple Life" with her childhood friend Paris Hilton.

"She has an instant likeability," Fey said. "The kind of instincts she has you cannot teach."

Most of Richie's scenes are with John Michael Higgins. She is 35; he is 53.

"The cool part about our characters is there's such a generational gap," Richie said. "We celebrate it off-screen but it's still very much there because you are old."

Higgins responded, "It's not just that I'm old, but I'm seriously out of touch. I'm always turning to Nicole and saying, 'Here's a joke these idiots wrote and what does it mean?'"

Jennifer Lopez: NBC's 'Bye Bye Birdie' evokes stage roots

Jennifer Lopez says NBC's version of "Bye Bye Birdie" will bring the musical back to its stage roots.

The story was somewhat "watered down" in the 1963 movie in which Janet Leigh played the role originated by Chita Rivera on Broadway in 1960, Lopez told a TV critics' meeting Wednesday.

In the play, Rivera's Rose encounters resistance from her boyfriend's mother because she doesn't want her son marrying someone with Puerto Rican roots, Lopez said.

That dynamic will be part of the live TV musical airing later this year, Lopez said. So will her character's assertiveness about trying to steer her partner toward marriage, the actress said.

Lopez, who's called "Bye Bye Birdie" a childhood favorite, said it's a "great part for me to do. So here we go."

She's a busy woman, both on and off camera. Lopez stars in and is a producer for NBC's police drama "Shades of Blue" and is a producer-judge on the network's upcoming competition series, "World of Dance."

"Bye Bye Birdie Live!" is the latest in what has become an annual live-musical holiday tradition for NBC, with last December's "Hairspray Live!" the most recent production.

"Birdie" is an homage to circa-1950s rock 'n' roll mania and centers on the character Conrad Birdie, who is reminiscent of a young Elvis Presley. He was played on stage by Dick Gautier, who died last week at age 85.

ABC aired a 1995 TV-movie version starring Jason Alexander and Vanessa Williams.

Ray Liotta finds career on upswing with TV police series

Ray Liotta knows that he's firmly cemented in the public's mind as the real-life mobster he played in the 1990 movie "Goodfellas."

Even if the 62-year-old actor has moved on, working steadily over the years, he found out not everyone else has done so. "I've done a lot of independent movies that I thought were very good, but it's hard to get people to see them," he told a TV critics gathering on Wednesday.

Liotta has found his profile rising again with his role as a dirty cop opposite Jennifer Lopez on NBC's drama "Shades of Blue," which returns for its second season on March 5. It's the first extended TV role of his career.

"It reminded people that I know how to do this," Liotta said. "I've definitely had an up-and-down career, and this has definitely put me back in the public eye."

Carlson starts strong at Fox News Channel

In his first week, Tucker Carlson moved seamlessly into Megyn Kelly's time slot at Fox News Channel without skipping a beat in the ratings.

Carlson averaged just under 3 million viewers for his first week of shows in Fox's prime-time lineup, or 10 percent more than the 2.72 million viewers that Kelly averaged all of last year, the Nielsen company said.

Fox's numbers are strong in general as many of its viewers eagerly await the start of the Trump administration. Carlson's lead-in, Bill O'Reilly, averaged 3.5 million last week, or 7 percent more than what he averaged last year. Sean Hannity, Fox's other prime-time personality, was up 16 percent last week in the same measurement, Nielsen said.

Kelly announced on Jan. 3 that she was leaving Fox News Channel for a new job at NBC News, where she will host a daytime hour that hasn't been defined yet, a once-weekly newsmagazine and participate in political coverage. Her start date at NBC hasn't been determined.

Carlson, who has hosted shows on CNN, MSNBC and PBS, earned his shot at Fox's prime-time lineup by doing well as a replacement for Greta Van Susteren earlier in the evening on Fox. Van Susteren has now taken a job at MSNBC.

Football dominated television last week, with the Pittsburgh Steelers' NFL playoff win in Kansas City seen by 37.1 million viewers and Clemson's late victory over Alabama for the NCAA championship reaching 24.4 million.

CBS won the week in prime time, averaging 10.3 million viewers. NBC had 9.1 million, Fox had 7.6 million, ABC had 4.7 million, Univision had 1.9 million, Telemundo had 1.6 million, ION Television had 1.3 million and the CW had 900,000.

With college football's premier game, ESPN led the cable networks with a prime-time average of 3.97 million. Fox News Channel had 2.48 million, USA had 1.62 million, HGTV had 1.6 million and TBS had 1.38 million.

NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 9.6 million viewers. ABC's "World News Tonight" was second with 9.2 million and the "CBS Evening News" had 7.6 million viewers.

For the week of Jan. 9-15, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: NFL Playoffs: Pittsburgh at Kansas City, NBC, 37.11 million; NFL Playoffs: Houston at New England, CBS, 29.82 million; NFL Playoffs: Green Bay at Dallas, Fox, 28.86 million; College Football Championship: Clemson vs. Alabama, ESPN, 24.42 million; "NFL Pre-Game," NBC, 23.08 million. College Football Championship Pre-Game," ESPN, 14.48 million; "NFL Post-Game," Fox, 13.95 million; "This is Us," NBC, 10.48 million; "Blue Bloods," CBS, 10.475 million; "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 10.26 million.

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ABC and ESPN are owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox is owned by 21st Century Fox. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks.

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Online:

http://www.nielsen.com

NBC renews hit drama 'This Is Us' for 2 more seasons

NBC's hit freshman drama "This Is Us" will be sticking around for at least a couple more years.

The network said Wednesday's that the show's success has earned it a two-season pickup, with at least 18 episodes per season.

The family drama is proving a success with the advertiser-favored young adult demographic and has drawn critical praise.

"This is Us," about the intersecting lives of a variety of characters, includes Mandy Moore, Milo Ventimiglia and Sterling K. Brown in its ensemble cast.

Actor dishing up laughs, not roast beef, on new NBC show

Nick D'Agosto was truly working for the man before he found success on the small screen.

The 36-year-old actor spent seven years toiling at Arby's in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, where his father Alan D'Agosto is the fast-food chain's major franchisee. Starting at 15, D'Agosto worked in his dad's restaurants and returned during summers when he was attending Marquette University.

"I had a ponytail, and I used to tuck it in my cap," said D'Agosto, whose close-cropped hair and fresh-faced appearance belies his age. "He put us to work on some greasy dishes. I've still got burns on my hands from some fryers, and it was a good lesson."

Now, D'Agosto is dishing up laughs in the upcoming NBC series "Trial & Error," starring John Lithgow and Sherri Shepherd.

Shepherd kidded D'Agosto about not providing any free roast beef to the cast and crew.

"I can get you free Arby's," he said at a TV critics gathering on Wednesday. "My dad still sends me gift cards."

D'Agosto's TV credits include "Masters of Sex," ''Gotham" and "Heroes."

Nielsen's top programs for Jan. 9-15

Prime-time viewership numbers compiled by Nielsen for Jan. 9-15. Listings include the week's ranking and viewership.

1. NFL Playoffs: Pittsburgh at Kansas City, NBC, 37.11 million.

2. NFL Playoffs: Houston at New England, CBS, 29.82 million.

3. NFL Playoffs: Green Bay at Dallas, Fox, 28.86 million.

4. College Football Championship: Clemson vs. Alabama, ESPN, 24.42 million.

5. "NFL Pre-Game," NBC, 23.08 million.

6. "College Football Championship Pre-Game," ESPN, 14.48 million.

7. "NFL Post-Game," Fox, 13.95 million.

8. "This is Us," NBC, 10.48 million.

9. "Blue Bloods," CBS, 10.475 million.

10. "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 10.26 million.

11. "NCIS," CBS, 10.09 million.

12. "Hawaii Five-O," CBS, 9.69 million.

13. "College Football Championship Post-Game," ESPN, 9.44 million.

14. "NCIS: Los Angeles," CBS, 8.584 million.

15. "The Big Bang Theory" (Monday, 8 p.m.), CBS, 8.581 million.

16. "MacGyver," CBS, 7.64 million.

17. "Modern Family," ABC, 7.59 million.

18. "Criminal Minds," CBS, 7.54 million.

19. "Madam Secretary," CBS, 7.54 million.

20. "60 Minutes," CBS, 7.45 million.

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ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co.; CBS is a division of CBS Corp.; Fox is owned by 21st Century Fox; NBC is owned by NBC Universal.

'Blacklist' producers: Tom will be part of original, sequel

Tom Keen will remain part of "The Blacklist" as he steps into "The Blacklist: Redemption," the spinoff's producers said.

"He's always going to be part of 'The Blacklist' family," producer John Eisendrath said of the character played by Ryan Eggold in both NBC dramas.

The spinoff, which debuts Feb. 23 with eight episodes, stars Eggold and Famke Janssen as mercenaries who have joined with others trying to make amends for the havoc they've caused. Janssen plays Susan "Scottie" Hargrave, the group's leader and Tom's mother. He knows their relationship but she's in the dark, believing her son is long dead.

While Tom is tugged away from his original "Blacklist" life with wife Elizabeth (Megan Boone) and baby Agnes, he loves his family and isn't "going away lightly," Eggold told a TV critics' meeting Wednesday.

He'll have three powerful women in his life now, Eisendrath said. Even at a year old, "Agnes is very strong," the producer joked.

Janssen's Scottie certainly is, and Janssen is willing to concede she's "ruthless and unpredictable." But she balked at labeling her a cold woman.

"She has this incredibly soft and broken side to her that's so beautiful and relatable," the actress said.

Janssen, an exceptionally youthful-looking 52, is playing mom to Eggold, who's 32. With Scottie unaware of their relationship, there were hints in their previous "Blacklist" scenes of a possibly misplaced attraction on her side.

Will that be suggested in the sequel?

"It's very PG" rated, Janssen said. "We're on network television."

New 'Star Trek' delayed again? Either way, James Frain joins

"Star Trek: Discovery" may or may not land on CBS All Access in May, as previously announced.

If not, it would be the second delay for this latest TV edition of the "Star Trek" franchise, which originally was promised for delivery this month.

On Wednesday, CBS Television Studios and CBS All Access weren't conceding to a further delay. But they seemed to claim wiggle room by stating, "We will be flexible on a launch date if it's best for the show."

Production starts next week, they said.

They also said James Frain has been added to the cast. Frain ("Gotham" and "Orphan Black") will play Sarek, father of Spock.

After the premiere airs on the CBS broadcast network, further episodes will be available only to subscribers to CBS All Access.

'Will & Grace' 10-episode revival set for 2017-18 season

"Will & Grace" is making a comeback.

NBC said Wednesday that 10 new episodes are set to air during the 2017-18 season. The series will feature original stars Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally.

Series creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan are aboard as executive producers, and series director James Burrows also will be back, NBC said.

In a statement, NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt called the series groundbreaking for its witty approach to social issues including gay rights.

Discussions about reviving "Will & Grace" began immediately after the stars appeared in an election-themed reunion video last September, said Jennifer Salke, president of NBC Entertainment.

"Will & Grace" aired from 1998 to 2006 and won Emmy Awards as best comedy series and for its stars.

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Online: https://youtu.be/wDe934lJlqY

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