Here's the Super Bowl Sunday line-up -- from morning to "24"


OK, now we can set our plans for Super Bowl Sunday,. (Mostly, they involve staring at a TV, with intermittent eating and/or drinking.) Here are the two previews I sent to papers. The previous one was an overview from the Fox Sports people. This story has the details, including a timeline that stretches from the first preview (11 a.m. ET) to the final, boom-bang moments of "24: Legacy."

By Mike Hughes

You really weren't
planning on doing anything on Sunday, were you?

If Fox has its way,
you'll skip chores and church and such. Instead, you'll stare at
Super Bowl coverage for 12-plus hours.

Partying during that
time is optional. Terry Bradshaw will be working this Sunday for Fox,
but he describes previous Super Bowls as “the greated day of my
life .... We were cooking and the men were playing gmes and having
fun and the pregame shows were on.”

Now there are more
of those shows than ever. Here's the line-up, with all times ET:

The pre-pregame

-- 11 a.m.: “The
Road to the Super Bowl.” This is the annual NFL Films production,
slickly edited.

-- Noon:
“Undisputed,” the cable (Fox Sports 1) show, with Skip Bayless
and Shannon Sharpe..

-- 1 p.m.: “Super
Bowl Kickoff.” Here are more transplants from Fox Sports 1.
Charissa Thompson hosts,with Colin Cowherd, Dave Wannstedt and
Charles Tillman.

The pregame

-- 2 p.m.: Bradshaw
and Curt Menefee host the marathon, which will include Howie Long,
Michael Strahan, Jimmy Johnson, reporter Jay Glazer and rules analyst
Mike Pereira. There will be celebrity drop-ins, said Eric Shanks, the
president of Fox Sports, and maybe some music, shortly before 6.

-- 6 p.m. or so:
Coverage moves to the field, with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman in the
broadcast booth and Erin Andrews and Chris Myers onthe sidelines.
Luke Bryan will sing the National Anthem – ending a string of nine
straight women, including stars from opera (Renee Fleming), Broadway
(Idina Menzel), country and pop.

The game

-- 6:30 p.m.: It's
the kickoff, with strength against strength.

The Atlanta Falcons
are pro football's highest-scoring team (33.8 points a game in the
regular season), but the New England Patriots have the toughest
defense (15.6 points a game). The Falcons' Matt Ryan had the top
quarterback rating ... with the Patriots' Tom Brady finishing second.

One catch: The
Patriots (16-2) also had the third-best offense; the Falcons were
27th in defense.

Whatever happens,
we'll see the details. Shanks said a chip in each helmet will allow a
replay from any perspective. “For the first time ever, we (will)
take fans inside the helmet of any player on the field.”

Halftime

-- Lady Gaga
performs. The show is expected to include Tony Bennett, 90, her
frequent duet partner.

Post-game

-- About 10 p.m.:
Bradshaw prevails with the trophy, post-game interviews, etc. After
that, football talks switches to Fox Sports 1.

-- About 10:30: “24:
Legacy” debuts with a high-octane hour, before moving to Mondays.

The story focuses on
an Army Ranger unit, similar to one that killed Osama bin Laden. In
this case, one Ranger took something vital; now all of them are being
chased. “We originally planned that for a general thriller idea,”
said producer Manny Coto. “It wasn't even '24.'”

But then they worked
it into the “24” format. Over 12 (not 24) hours, things seem to
be in real time.

Like Jack Bauer in
the past, the new hero (played by Corey Hawkins of “Straight Outta
Compton”) will be on the clock. “He can never go to the bathroom
or eat,” joked producer Brian Grazer.

Adds Hawkins: “I
can sneak a granola bar on a commercial break.”

Super Bowl -- a time for greatness (or maybe pretty-goodness)


The Super Bowl will take over the world again Sunday, gobbling up more than 12 hours of TV time. This is one of the two preview stories I sent to papers:

 

By Mike Hughes

It's Super Bowl time
again, bringing a battle of the best.

Here are star
quarterbacks, fierce linemen, great coaches and ...

Well, pause on that
last one. “There's only one great coach in the NFL,” insisted
Terry Bradshaw, who will co-host Fox's pregame show Sunday. “That's
that coach up in New England. That's a great coach.”
He's
talking about Bill Belichick, who's now in his 17th year
with the Patriots ... and is taking them to the Super Bowl for the
seventh time ... all (including four wins) with Tom Brady as
quarterback.

That may make this
seem like a mismatch: The Pats are Super Bowl veterans; the Atlanta
Falcons have only been there once, and not in this millennium. The
Pats only lost twice this year, and one of those was during Brady's
four-game suspension; since his return, they've outscored opponents
by more than 15 points a game. The Falcons have lost five times.

But the Falcons also
have football's top offense ... and anything can happen in a Super
Bowl. Last season, the Carolina Panthers breezed into the game with a
17-1 record ... then suffered seven sacks, four turnovers and a 24-10
loss to the Denver Broncos.

People will keep
watching, whether it's close or not. Eric Shanks, the Fox Sports
president, points to the last time his network did the Super Bowl –
the Seattle Seahawks' 43-8 win over Denver in 2014.

“It was not close,
from the opening snap,” Shanks said. “I dreaded waking up the
next morning, to see what the viewership figures were. (But) the
Super Bowl is the Super Bowl .... We set a record.”

An average of 112.2
million people saw that game, a record that was broken the next year.
People keep watching ... and expect to have fun. “That was our
leader David Hill's No. 1 thing: 'Let's entertain the masses,”
Bradshaw said.

Hill was the
Australian who took over Fox Sports in 1993, when it was virtuallty
non-existent. (“It should be 'Fox Sport,'” John Madden used to
say, because football was the only game it had.) Some of his
innovations (the glowing hockey puck) were scuttled, but others have
become standard, including the on-screen scoreboard and first-down
line.

Fox also launched
the first hour-long pregame show, which scored instantly. “From the
very first days, (Fox has) been the No. 1 pre-game ... for 23
straight years,” Shanks said.

It has done that
with Bradshaw, Howie Long and a relatively loose attitude ... which
tends to get looser on Super Bowl Sunday. Instead of one hour, the
pregame crew now starts at 2 p.m. ET (after three other advance
hours) and goes on past 6 .

“The Super Bowl
pregame is less about football, to a great extent, right up until
about the hour, hour-and-a-half before the game,” Long said. “It's
more about entertainment.”

Some of the talk
gets especially entertaining when Bradshaw is unfiltered ... which is
how the whole “great coaches” issue started. Bradshaw had said
the Pittsburgh Steelers' Mike Tomlin “is a great cheerleader guy,
but I don't know what he does .... I don't think he is a great coach
at all.”

Looking back at that
now, Bradshaw said he should have said “motivator,” not
“cheerleader,” and should have said there are no great coaches
... except Bill Belichick. On Sunday, we'll see if a great coach and
his superstar quarterback can stop the Atlanta Falcons and football's
best offense.

All sitcoms are the same? Not at 8:30 p.m. this Thursday


Can one network be right and all the others be wrong? It's possible. CBS is sticking with traditional situation comedies -- done before a studio audience, with multiple cameras -- while all the others abandon that approach. You can have your choice on Thursday (Feb. 2), when CBS and NBC each debut an 8:30 p.m. comedy; here's the story I sent to papers:

By Mike Hughes

Two new shows
collide Thursday, from opposite sides of a comedy chasm.

It's old vs. new,
talk vs. action, CBS vs. the world. Surprisigly, CBS – the old,
talky one – is winning.

The latest
collision, at 8:30 p.m., brings the debuts of:

-- “Powerless.”
Like all NBC comedies, it's filmed movie-style; that allows big sight
gags, at a company owned by Batman's clumsy cousin. “They are
working on stuff that makes (us) a little bit safer, in a world where
demigods are flying around,” said producer Patrick Schumacker.

-- “Superior
Donuts.” Like most CBS shows, it's performed in front of a studio
audience, with several cameras. There are no superheroes, but lots of
punchlines and lots of doughnuts.

This “multi-cam”
approach is the way most old comedies were done – including past
hits from two of the “Donuts” stars – Judd Hirsch's “Taxi”
and Katey Sagal's “Married With Children.” Still, Sagal hadn't
worked that way in years, until she was a “Big Bang” guest,
working in front of an audience.

“I weas
terrified,” Sagal said. “I hadn't done it for a while. And
actually, I had a good experience on 'The Big Bang' and I remember
calling my manager and saying, 'I like this; this is fun.' Because
it's all a rush of the live audience.”

Bob Daily, a
“Superior Donuts” producer, agrees with that. “A live audience
keeps us honest,” he said. “It tells us what's working, what's
not working.”

That's been the
style of hit comedies, from “I Love Lucy” to “Big Bang,” with
“Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “All in the Family,” “Friends,”
“Frasaier,” “Seinfeld” and more. “MASH” was a rare
exception.

But then comedies
slumped and “Modern Family” (filmed single-camera, movie-style)
soared. Soon, multi-cam comedies existed only on CBS ... which
happened to dominate the Nielsen ratings.

“Powerless”
clearly savors its movie approach. It has huge sight gags, often at
the expense of Vanessa Hudgens, the former “High School Musical”
ingenue.

“She's so fun and
cute and probably has enough money that she doesn't have to do it,”
said co-star Ron Funches. “But (they'll say) 'Let me put this
baby-food powder in your mouth.' She just goes, 'OK.'”

There's no room for
big sight gags in “Superior Donuts.” It's sort of like a play ...
which it once was.

In 2008 – the year
he won a Pulitzer Prize for “August: Osage County,” Tracy Letts
opened this play in Chicago. An employee (young and black) argued
with the owner (an elderly Polish immigrant) about modernizing the
doughnut shop.

The show had a brief
Broadway run, with Charles Isherwood of the New York Times calling it
“a gentle comedy that unfolds like an extended episode of a 1970s
sitcom.” And now, of course, it is a sitcom. Like anything from
“Cheers” to “Night Court,” it's has a setting where people
pop in quickly.

The pilot was shot
with comedian Jermaine Fowler opposite Brian d'Arcy James, who's had
11 Broadway shows and three Tony nominations. CBS rejected it, but
asked for a second pilot.

That was followed,
Flowers said, by “extra months of just retooling and reshaping the
story,” plus luring Hirsch to replace James.

“I was doing a
play in the Berkshires and a dozen doughnuts came in the mail,”
Hirsch said. “And I (thought), 'Whoa! I've never been asked'”
like that.

He gave the
doughnuts to the crew, but took the job ... and now has access to
plenty of food on set.

“We eat the (heck)
out of those doughnuts .... It makes us hyper, really,” Fowler
said.

That's as close as
the show gets to having a secet weapon. Other shows have big sight
gags; “Superior” has clever talk and enticing doughnuts.

-- “Superior
Donuts” (CBS) or “Powerless” (NBC), both debut 8:30 p.m.
Thursday, Feb. 2

-- “Powerless”
stays on Thursdays; “Donuts” moves to 9 p.m. Mondays

 

TV offers a cascade of Mary Tyler Moore memories


By Mike Hughes

Memories of Mary
Tyler Moore are being rushed back to TV. In many cases, they'll have
her fans finding new locations – digital-TV, satellite, streaming
services and beyond.

Moore – who died
Wednesday, at 80 – was a star of traditional TV. Her CBS shows --
“The Dick Van Dyke Show” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” --
combined for six seasons in Nielsen's top-10 ... sometimes joined by
other shows (“Rhoda,” “Phyllis,” etc.) from her MTM company.

So it was logical
that CBS was the first spot to have a retrospective. It set “Mary
Tyler Moore: Love is All Around” for 9 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 26.
Others – on ABC, cable and beyond -- include:

-- Fridays: The
Sundance cable channel has “Mary Tyler Moore Show” reruns. The
current schedule calls for five this week (between 7:47 and 10:42
a.m.) and seven on Feb. 3 (8:30 a.m. to 12:35 p.m.).

-- Friday: “20/20,”
at 10 p.m.on ABC, will devote its hour to Moore, including Barbara
Walters interviews.

-- Saturday:
Sundance plans to show the entire final season. The 24-episode
marathon starts at 6 a.m.

-- Sunday: MeTV
starts a three-hour marathon of the best episodes. That includes the
pilot film at 2 p.m., the famed “Chucky the Clown” episode at
3:30 and the finale at 4:30. MeTV is on satellite and cable, but also
shows up in most markets on one of the digital sub-stations run by
local stations. Check www.metv.com/wheretowatch
and insert your zip code.

-- Monday: GetTV
airs “Dick Van Dyke and the Other Woman” at 11 p.m., followed by
a 1960 “Johnny Staccato” in which a 23-year-old Moore plays an
actress being terrorized. GetTV is on the Dish network (373) and on
sub-stations (check www.get.tv/get-the-channel
and insert zip code). The “Other Woman” special was key: Fresh
from a Broadway failure, Moore drew raves and high ratings alongside
Van Dyke; that led to the CBS offer for her own show ... and to the
creation of her company.

-- Any time: “Mary
Tyler Moore Show” and “Dick Van Dyke Show” reruns are streamed
on hulu.com and on Comcast's Xfinity.

-- Also: Individual
PBS stations are rerunning “Mary Tyler Moore: A Celebration.” And
there are Moore's movies, including her Oscar-nominated role in the
1980 “Ordinary People.”

Finally repaired, ABC's Thursdays are ready to surprise us (again)


This has been a busy week of new and returning TV shows, but some stories are clearly bigger than others. The biggest is the long-delayed repair of ABC's Thursdays, starting this week (Jan. 26); here's the story I sent to papers:

By Mike Hughes

After eight months
of fractured Thursdays, ABC finally seems whole again.

“Scandal” is
back; “Grey's Anatomy” and “How to Get Away With Murder” are
surrounding it. Normality – or s heightened version of it –
prevails.

The problem started
when “Scandal” took a long break during the pregnancy of its
star, Kerry Washington. It was exasperated by the fact that:

-- Two other Shonda
Rhimes productions weren't ready to fill in. “The Catch” was
being revamped; a period piece was still being prepared.

-- The show that was
shovelled into the “Scandal” spot (“Notorious,” not a Rhimes
production) was truly terrible. Viewers realized that quickly; there
was a giant crater in the middle of ABC's best night.

Now sanity has
returned; “Scandal” is back in time to have 16 episodes this
season, instead of the 21 and 22 in recent years. Shorter seasons are
what cable does ... and what Rhimes says she prefers.

“I spoke to the
network about this,” she said, “wanting to have shorter seasons
.... You don't have to tread water every once in a why .... I think
it actually made our storytelling more powerful.”

She's stuck with
that for “How To Get Away With Murder”; each season has only 15
episodes and two major stories. But “Grey's Anatomy” has 24 a
year, with its huge cast and its ability to tell wide-ranging
stories; indeed, Thursday's episode uses only three of the regulars,
sending them to a prison hospital.

These Rhimes shows
all emphasize human drama and complex roles for women, black and
white. “Murder” and “Scandal” often have a cinematic look and
sudden plot jolts.

The new “Scandal”
season, Rhimes insists, “is not neccesarily about crazy things
happening.”

You can't prove that
by the opener; starting on election night, it's filled with dizzying
shifts. And you can't prove it by past seasons, which have kept
surprising viewers ... and actors.

“You kind of stare
at Shonda,” said Washington, who stars as Olivia Pope. “We are
always having revelations about ourselves.”

Or about others.
“The viewers are blown away when they watch this on the air – as
are we when we read it,” Scott Foley said. His character has had
two names (Jake Ballard, Pete Harris) and has ranged from master spy
to, currently, vice-presidential candidate. He's been Olivia's lover
and has spied on her.

Foley's favorite
shift involved the mysterious master spy – alternately known as
Command, Rowan and Elijah – played by Joe Morton. “In the car,
when 'Liv sits down with (him), we don't know who he is. And she
says, 'Dad.'”

That one surprised
almost everyone, Morton said. “I was the only one in the entire
cast who knew it was coming. I spent the entire season keeping that
secret.”

Now more surprises
are ahead, especially in the bizarre season-opener. ABC's fractured
night has finally been repaired.

Thursday line-up
returns Jan. 26 on ABC:

-- “Grey's
Anatomy,” 8 p.m., returning after two months; Bailey, Arizona and
Jo go to a prison, where a teen faces a complicated childbirth.

-- “Scandal,” 9
p.m., season-opener; it's election night.

-- “How to Get
Away With Murder,” 10 p.m.; Annalise, a law professor and master
defense attorney, is in jail, facing charges of arson and possibly
murder.