(CNN)David Cassidy, the wildly popular ’70s heartthrob who shot to fame when he starred and sang in TV’s “The Partridge Family,” is in critical condition with organ failure.
(CNN)David Cassidy, the wildly popular ’70s heartthrob who shot to fame when he starred and sang in TV’s “The Partridge Family,” is in critical condition with organ failure.
TV networks are running out of excuses for the dwindling popularity of the National Football League.
They blamed the election for ratings declines last year, and hurricanes for a soft week one in September. Protests during the national anthem, and President Donald Trump’s criticism of the league, have faded from the headlines.
Advertisers are starting to believe a different explanation: the viewers aren’t coming back. Audiences are down an average 7 percent from a year ago through the first eight weeks of the season, excluding last Monday. That’s on top of a decrease of about 8 percent last season that spurred numerous changes in the broadcasts, from shorter commercials to better matchups earlier in the year.
“There’s just not as many people watching TV the way they used to watch TV,” said Jeremy Carey, managing director of Optimum Sports, a sports marketing agency. “It’s going to be an issue for advertisers when they can’t reach a large-scale audience the way they have.”
With CBS Corp., 21st Century Fox Inc. and Walt Disney Co. set to report earnings in the next few days, analysts are bound to raise questions. These companies have used the popularity of the games to extract additional fees from cable operators, promote other shows on their networks and sell lots of commercials. Pro football games drew about $3.5 billion in ad spending last year, including the postseason, according to SMI Media Inc.
Media companies have spent billions of dollars on the right to air football games, which had been immune to the erosion of viewership for other TV programming. Audiences for TV networks have diminished for years as the growing popularity of online alternatives Netflix and YouTube and the availability of most shows on-demand have reduced the appeal of dramas and comedies. Live TV, like sports, was supposed to be immune, but that theory looks highly questionable now.
Ratings for the NFL suggest the same societal trends are now affecting the league, even if the declines aren’t as dramatic. The drop in game viewership ranges from 5 percent for NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” to 11 percent for the CBS Sunday package. “Monday Night Football,” on Disney’s ESPN, has attracted more fans this year than a year ago, but the numbers are still down from 2015.
Viewership of the four main broadcast networks fell 8.7 percent last year, and 12 percent among adults 18 to 49, an important demographic for advertisers.
CBS’s 11 percent slump for NFL games is the steepest of the networks. Its parent company, which reports earnings after the close Thursday, is more vulnerable than rivals to the trend because the vast majority of its earnings come from the broadcast network. The declines at CBS reinforce a complaint that has gotten louder and louder in recent weeks: The league got greedy in adding the Thursday night game on broadcast.
Reserving top games for Thursday night robbed other time periods of good match-ups. After a nosedive in ratings at “Monday Night Football” last season, the league has scheduled better games for that time period, further damaging Sunday afternoon.
“Ratings declines on both general entertainment and NFL programming could be the single biggest point of focus for investors this quarter, and we’re not sure what media companies can say about the health and tone of the ad market to assuage fears,” Steven Cahall, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets, wrote in a note last month.
Viewership is dropping fast among people under 54 — a key demographic for advertisers — and even faster among those 18 to 34. Audiences for games on CBS, NBC and Fox have slid at least 10 percent among that younger cohort.
Advertisers aren’t abandoning the NFL, one of the only places they can still reach more than 10 million people at once. But they are growing concerned. John Schnatter, who appears in TV spots on behalf of his Papa John’s Pizza International Inc., laid into the league on a conference call this week, blaming the ratings for his company’s slow revenue growth and calling for the league to put an end to player protests.
Networks and other advertisers identify a wide range of reasons for the NFL’s struggles. The league has overexposed itself by making highlights available on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Snapchat. Identifiable stars like Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers have either retired or gotten hurt. The quality of play has deteriorated. Player protests and concussions have driven away some fans.
Some executives argue viewership of the league has still improved over the long term while dropping for every other show. Yet the amount of time people have spent watching football this season is at the lowest point since 2011, back when there were fewer televised games, according to Mike Mulvihill, Fox Sports’ head of research.
“The cumulative effect of everything happening in the world at large is having an impact on NFL viewership,” Mulvihill said. “ The league was defying the laws of gravity.”
More than a decade after opioid painkillers first exploded across the U.S., John Kapoor found an aggressive way to sell even more, according to prosecutors: He began bribing doctors to prescribe them.
Speakers’ fees, dinners, entertainment, cash — federal charges unsealed Thursday claim Kapoor’s striving company, Insys Therapeutics Inc., employed all of that and more to spur prescriptions of a highly addictive fentanyl-based drug intended only for cancer patients.
As President Donald Trump declared at a White House event that opioid abuse represents a public-health emergency, authorities arrested Kapoor in Arizona and painted a stark portrait of how Insys allegedly worked hand in glove with doctors to expand the market for the powerful agents.
“Selling a highly addictive opioid-cancer pain drug to patients who did not have cancer makes them no better than street-level drug dealers,” Harold Shaw, the top FBI agent in Boston, said of Kapoor and other Insys executives charged earlier in the case.
The story of the 74-year-old billionaire and the company he founded traces the arc of a crisis that claims 175 lives each day. What began with the over-prescription of painkillers in the late 1990s soon became a race by manufacturers to dispense more and more pills.
Charged with racketeering conspiracy and other felonies, Kapoor became the highest-ranking pharma executive to be accused of an opioid-related crime, and his arrest may portend charges against companies far larger than Insys, which has a modest $417 million market capitalization.
In Connecticut, prosecutors have begun a criminal probe of Purdue Pharmaceutical Inc.’s marketing of OxyContin. Scores of states, cities and counties have sued companies including Purdue, Endo International Plc, and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals, alleging they triggered the opioid epidemic by minimizing the addiction and overdose risks of painkillers such as Percocet.
But so far, no recent case has been so sweeping as the one against the executives including Kapoor, who made his initial court appearance late Thursday in Phoenix. A U.S. magistrate judge set bail at $1 million and ordered Kapoor to surrender his passport and submit to electronic monitoring. His lawyer, Brian Kelly, said Kapoor posted bail after the hearing.
This week, a Rhode Island doctor admitted accepting kickbacks from Insys in exchange for writing prescriptions. Earlier this year, two doctors were sentenced to more than 20 years behind bars for accepting bribes from companies including Insys to sell fentanyl-based medications.
The Kapoor indictment pinpoints the start of the alleged scheme.
It was early 2012, and Insys’s new oral spray of the opioid fentanyl wasn’t selling well. Because it was so addictive, the pain-relief drug was subject to a tightly controlled distribution system, and regulators demanded to be notified about suspicious orders by manufacturers, wholesalers and pharmacies. And the drug wasn’t cheap, so insurers set up barriers for patients seeking it.
That was when Kapoor and others at Insys went to extremes to dramatically boost sales of the painkiller, prosecutors said. Doling out speaker fees, marketing payments and food and entertainment perks, they allegedly began bribing doctors to prescribe the drug, and then tricked insurers into paying for it.
One Insys sales executive told subordinates that it didn’t matter whether doctors were entertaining, according to the indictment: “They do not need to be good speakers, they need to write a lot of” Subsys prescriptions, the official said, referring to the brand name of the painkiller.
Over a two-year period starting in 2013, Chandler, Arizona-based Insys set aside more than $12.2 million for doctors’ speaking fees, prosecutors said. One doctor received as much as $229,640 in speaker fees for appearing at what amounted to “sham events that were mere social gatherings also attended by friends and office staff,” according to the indictment.
The company encouraged doctors to write more prescriptions by hiring their friends and family members to serve as “business liaisons’’ and “business-relation managers,’’ prosecutors said. These support-staff employees worked in the doctors’ offices but were paid by Insys in what the indictment called bribes and kickbacks.
Insys even made a video featuring a sales rep dressed as a giant fentanyl spray bottle, rapping and dancing to a song that pushed the idea of getting doctors to prescribe higher doses, prosecutors said.
Others previously charged include Michael Babich, Insys’s former CEO, Alec Burlakoff, the ex-vice president of sales, and Richard Simon, once the company’s national sales director. They all deny wrongdoing.
Joe McGrath, an Insys spokesman, declined to comment on Kapoor’s indictment in Boston federal court. The company, which wasn’t charged, has reportedly been in settlement talks with the U.S. Justice Department to resolve a probe into its Subsys marketing. The company’s shares fell more than 22 percent to $5.74 in Nasdaq trading.
The first person in his family to attend college, Kapoor rose from modest means in India to become a wealthy health-care entrepreneur, after earning a doctorate in medicinal chemistry at the University of Buffalo in 1972, according to a work-history the school posted.
He was a plant manager at Invenex Laboratories in New York and later became chief executive officer of LyphoMed, a hospital-products company. He sold LyphoMed to Fujisawa Pharmaceuticals and formed a venture capital firm that invested in health-care companies.
In 2010, he merged privately held Insys with NeoPharm Inc. to get access to technology to develop pain drugs for cancer patients. Even though he has stepped down as Insys’s chairman and chief executive officer, he still holds more than 60 percent of its stock.
Kapoor and Babich are also accused of misleading insurers about patients’ diagnoses and the types of pain they suffered that were covered by the Subsys prescriptions tied to the payment scheme, prosecutors said.
The company’s agents allegedly told insurers that patients were receiving Subsys for “breakthrough pain’’ to secure coverage. They also misled insurers about what other pain drugs patients had tried before being proscribed Subsys, according to the indictment.
Some lower-level Insys employees have pleaded guilty and are cooperating with prosecutors, according to court papers. Elizabeth Gurrieri, a former manager who oversaw insurance reimbursements, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to commit wire fraud in June.
Set your grills to medium-high, Bob’s Burgers fans, because the Belcher family’s lovable antics are officially coming to the big screen.
Are your palms as slick with sweat as Tina’s while gazing longingly at Jimmy Jr.’s butt? Well they should be, because the Fox animated show not only boasts an enviable cast of comedians, but also a heart of gold — with arteries as clogged as Teddy’s, presumably. (But they’re clogged with love, so keep shoving those burgers into our hearts!)
On Twitter, creator Loren Bouchard confirmed that the team behind the animated show is developing a feature film set for release in 2020:
Bouchard then immediately got our pulses racing by responding to a fan’s request for the film to focus on “Horseplay” (a reference to a character voiced by comedian Ron Funches, from the show’s legendary “Equestranauts” episode tackling the brony phenomenon).
“We’re still kicking around titles, but ‘Horseplay, the Horsening’ is definitely in the running,” Bouchard tweeted back.
That’s a juicy enough title to sink your teeth into. Bob’s Burgers is known for its Grade A pun and spoof humor — though, to be clear, the actual restaurant still only boasts a barely passing grade from health inspector Hugo. But if episode titles like “Eat, Spray, Linda” and “Zero Larp Thirty” are anything to go on, the team will certainly be serving up some choice meats for the film.
Yet, while Bouchard is committed to writing a film for Bob’s Burgers regulars, he also sees it as an opportunity for a grand re-re-re opening that brings new customers into the family comedy.
“We also know it has to fill every inch of the screen with the colors and the sounds and the ever so slightly greasy texture of the world of Bob’s – but most of all it has to take our characters on an epic adventure. In other words, it has to be the best movie ever made. But no pressure, right?!” Bouchard said in a statement, first reported by Deadline.
It’s been a big year for Bob’s Burgers. While it may not be the cultural phenomenon that The Simpsons has become, the quirky step-sister of the Fox animated comedy lineup still took home its second Emmy Award for Best Animated Series last month.
We’re hoping the film will take Bob’s Burgers from being a secret menu item and raise it to entree status in the public’s eyes (or, uh, tummies.)
There’s a Chinese mobile game called Heroes of Warfare, which takes as much inspiration as possible from Blizzard Entertainment’s hit game Overwatch. A little too much inspiration for Blizzard’s liking.
Blizzard and its Chinese partner NetEase are suing Heroes of Warfare‘s creators, 4399, for infringing on its intellectual property, Japanese news site PC Watch reported today. Blizzard claims that 4399’s Heroes of Warfare and another game that’s already been shut down is too similar to Overwatch, and is calling for a take down.
Just take a look through this gameplay video of Heroes of Warfare and you’ll see what Blizzard is getting at:
Many of the playable characters in Heroes of Warfare look and play similarly to the heroes in Overwatch, the maps are nearly identical to Overwatch maps, and the heads-up display showing scores, kills, and health is basically the same as Overwatch‘s.
As is common practice for intellectual property infringement lawsuits, Blizzard is asking for 4399 to cease production of its copycat games, for monetary compensation for damages, and that Heroes of Warfare be removed from iOS and Android app stores.
This isn’t the first time a game developer has copied Overwatch‘s aesthetics and gameplay approaches. A different Chinese mobile game called Hero Mission did the exact same thing earlier this year. In fact, Hero Mission and Heroes of Warfare are pretty hard to tell apart.
Also, sidenote to all game developers ripping off existing games: Try to come up with better, less-generic names than Heroes of Warfare. What does that even mean?
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In the wake of a mass shooting that left 59 dead and more than 520 people hurt, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “There’s a time and place for a political debate, but now is a time to unite as a country.”
Well, The Daily Show‘s Trevor Noah thinks that’s BS. On Monday night, he called out politicians and members of the media who claimed right now is not the time to talk about gun control.
“I feel like people are becoming more accustomed to this kind of news,” he said, noting there have been 20 mass shootings in the two years he’s lived in the United States.
After the latest shooting — in which a gunman fired at a country music concert from his Las Vegas hotel room — pundits even turned to hotel security as a possible culprit. Instead of, you know, sane gun laws.
“We seem to do everything to avoid talking about guns,” Noah said.
The talk show host pointed out that Congress was still considering the Sportsman’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act, which would make it easier to buy silencers and armor-piercing bullets.
“I can only say I’m sorry,” Noah told the people of Las Vegas, “sorry that we live in a world where people would put a gun before your lives.”
(CNN)Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez are joining forces to bring relief to Puerto Rico, which is in the midst of a humanitarian crisis after being hit by two hurricanes back-to-back.
Welcome to 2017, where the American government has ceded its already crumbling moral authority to the former host of The Man Show.
Don’t you miss the 2016 election now?
Still, the last few days have produced some of the best material late night television has ever had to offer, and all it’s because of former Man Show star, Win Ben Stein’s Money co-host, and late night host, Jimmy Kimmel. Kimmel has not only taken on the Senate’s practically homicidal Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill, he’s done it without resorting to lies or distortions (how quaint!). He accomplished this by speaking from a place of deep empathy, and by centering on a character that remains untouchable across the political spectrum: his baby.
Back in May, Kimmel’s newborn son had to undergo an emergency open-heart surgery. It was this hardship that brought America’s perilous healthcare situation into sharp focus for the comedian. And as he’s grown more vocal about the issue, he returns to his own child as the impetus for his outspokenness.
That’s why every counter-attack by GOP politician and pundits against Kimmel has fallen flat on its face: in the symbolic war between sick babies and man-baby Senators, the sick baby will always win.
By positioning his baby at his monologue’s heart and center, he’s created the most sympathetic protagonist imaginable and made anyone who opposes that character a hateful antagonist by extension (which, I mean, is accurate). Everyone who attacks Kimmel’s position, is essentially attacking his baby.
Not a good position for a politician.
“Before 2014, if you were born with congenital heart disease like my son was, there’s a good chance you would never be able to get health insurance because you had a pre-existing condition,” Kimmel said in May. “If your baby is going to die, and it doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make … we all agree on that, right? I mean, we do!”
Babies work. There’s a reason why every politician is required to take a photo with them at some point in their campaign.
When I was a social worker, we talked a lot about “worthy victims” and “unworthy victims.” “Unworthy victims” are people a society has collectively decided are victims because of their own poor choices: the poor, victims of sexual assault, the homeless, welfare recipients, people of color, criminals and undocumented immigrants. “Worthy victims,” by contrast, are folks that society has deemed sufficiently worthy of empathy (and consequently, of charitable donations) including sick children, the elderly and people with *certain* disabilities.
That doesn’t mean that worthy victims are exactly living large in America. Just think of the folks who were cruelly pulled from their wheelchairs by Capitol police while protesting Trumpcare that summer. But it does mean that they, culturally at least, have tremendous worth. I can’t think of a stronger symbolic lead than Kimmel’s son — a sick, wealthy kind with a devastating illness — followed closely by his acerbic father. Is there anything Americans love more than a cynical man, who simultaneously knows his facts and is deeply in touch with his own tenderness?
Of a Fox and Friends host who attacked Kimmel for his monologues, Kimmel had this to say:
“And you know, the reason I’m talking about this is because my son had an open-heart surgery and has to have two more, and because of that, I’ve learned that there are kids with no insurance in the same situation,” Kimmel said. “I don’t get anything out of this, Brian [Kilmeade], you phony little creep. Oh, I’ll pound you when I see you.”
Just look at how these Republican politicians and pundits tiptoed around his attacks, especially as they relate to Kimmy’s son, and relied on the tired excuse than Kimmel wasn’t smart enough to analyze the bill because’s he’s a late night comedian.
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) September 21, 2017
— HuffPost (@HuffPost) September 21, 2017
— National Review (@NRO) September 21, 2017
Remember: these folks voted for a man who recently made up an African country in front of Africans and didn’t realize that Frederick Douglass was dead, so we’re not exactly dealing with “wonks” here.
All late night comedians have in some ways impacted culture and by extension, politics, but Kimmel might become the first late night politicians to have an immediate, substantive impact on policy. There’s a Jimmy Kimmel test Senator Cassidy once told Congress it has to pass. Kimmel even ended his monologue with a screen full of Senator’s phone numbers, amplifying his personal story and turning it into collective action.
Babies work. There’s a reason why every politician is required to take a photo with them at some point in their campaign. There’s a reason why political ads that include children, like this one of Hillary’s, are far more effective than those that feature rehabilitated criminal — even though both would be endangered by Graham-Cassidy. Kimmel even admitted that he was “politicizing his baby” for the greater good.
Doing anything that might directly harm babies is one the last moral lines we have around these broken parts. Let’s see if one man’s 13-minute monologues are powerful enough to keep us from crossing it.
(CNN)Selena Gomez revealed on Thursday that she received a kidney transplant from her BFF.
I’m very aware some of my fans had noticed I was laying low for part of the summer and questioning why I wasn’t promoting my new music, which I was extremely proud of. So I found out I needed to get a kidney transplant due to my Lupus and was recovering. It was what I needed to do for my overall health. I honestly look forward to sharing with you, soon my journey through these past several months as I have always wanted to do with you. Until then I want to publicly thank my family and incredible team of doctors for everything they have done for me prior to and post-surgery. And finally, there aren’t words to describe how I can possibly thank my beautiful friend Francia Raisa. She gave me the ultimate gift and sacrifice by donating her kidney to me. I am incredibly blessed. I love you so much sis. Lupus continues to be very misunderstood but progress is being made. For more information regarding Lupus please go to the Lupus Research Alliance website: www.lupusresearch.org/ -by grace through faith
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(CNN)Jerry Lewis, the slapstick-loving comedian, innovative filmmaker and generous fundraiser for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, died Sunday after a brief illness, said his publicist, Candi Cazau. He was 91.