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Morning news talk shows have turned the first week of April into a ratings battleground

By TVDeeva Deanna Barnert Apr 3, 2012 7:46AM

Daytime's morning news talk shows have turned the first week of April into a virtual battleground. Katie Couric stepped in as co-host at "Good Morning America" for the week, while Oprah Winfrey got up early to chat with "CBS This Morning" Monday. With all the action afoot, long time ratings winner "Today" stepped up its game with surprise hosts Meredith Vieira and Sarah Palin, while also promising a big NBC announcement from Ryan Seacrest on Wednesday.

 

Bing:More about Katie Couric | Sarah Palin | Ryan Seacrest


The war for morning viewers has been waging for decades, but "Today" has been winning the battle since 1995. ABC News chief Ben Sherwood raised the gauntlet at the January TCA press tour, however, declaring that "Good Morning America" will take back the mornings.

"The 'Today' show is very mighty, and they’ve been very mighty for a very long time. It’s an incredible priority for us to take on, to challenge, and to topple the 'Today' show," Sherwood said. "In the last year, 'Good Morning America' has grown significantly. We’re really enjoying the best season we’ve had in about four years, while cutting NBC’s lead by about 30 to 40 percent. If we keep going at this rate, I believe that we will get to our goal, which is to be No. 1 in the morning."

CBS also got into the game at the beginning of the year, launching "CBS This Morning" with Charlie King, Erica Hill and Gayle King. "CBS has not been No. 1 since 'Captain Kangaroo,'" Gayle King admitted at the TCA, but the net is clearly hoping to change that.

In fact, CBS probably thought it had a clear victory in the bag for at least one day of the week when it announced Oprah Winfrey's Monday visit, but then ABC and NBC got into the ring. Here's how it's all playing out:

Winfrey vs. Couric vs. Vierra: On Monday, Winfrey came for a sit-down with her BFF King and the "CBS This Morning" crew, revealing she might not have launched OWN had she realized what a struggle it would be. Couric, meanwhile, kicked off her week at "GMA" with a clip about her driver accidentally taking her to the wrong morning show -- you know, the one where she got her start. Wink, wink. Of course, that other morning show, "Today," took its own swing on Monday by bringing back former host Meredith Vieira, who revealed she'll be part of NBC’s Summer Games coverage from London, and by taking a call from Sarah Palin.

Couric vs. Palin, Round 2: The first showdown between Couric and Palin was back in October 2008 on "Today," and Couric prevailed. On Tuesday, the ladies face off again -- this time for ratings. Couric continues at "Good Morning America," while Palin co-hosts the 8 a.m. hour of "Today." When Palin called in Monday to promote her gig, Matt Lauer didn't hesitate to reference Round 1. “What are you doing to prepare? Are you reading some newspapers?” he teased. Guest host Vieira couldn't help landing a crack as well, quipping that Palin's gig was a sign of "desperation," rather than NBC's efforts to represent diverse opinions. Ouch.

The Seacrest Effect: NBC hedged its bets by tweeting that Ryan Seacrest will make a big NBC announcement on "Today." There's been plenty of unsubstantiated buzz about "Today" trying to draft the "American Idol" host, who also produces tons of shows on NBC's sister network E!. All that's known for certain, however, is that, with Matt Lauer's contract expiring at the end of the year, NBC wined and dined super host Seacrest in December. So what will Seacrest announce? He could be checking in to celebrate Lauer's new "Today" contract or his own new contract with the show, but he might just be joining NBC Olympic coverage team, like Vieira. It could be something else altogether, and the mystery is one more way "Today" hopes to lure viewers away from Couric at "GMA."

With all that's happening, the show's guest lists could change.

"Today," "Good Morning America" and "CBS This Morning" air weekday mornings on NBC, ABC and CBS respectively.

 

Are Sarah and Hank getting back together?

By MSN TV Partner Fri 10:51 AM
In this sneak peek of the "Parenthood" season finale, Hank (Ray Romano) impresses Amber (Mae Whitman) and Sarah (Lauren Graham) with his Hank-like concern as they deal with Ryan's hospitalization.

Watch it first on MSN TV:

This clip, along with the promo clip NBC showed for next week's episode, hints at a reunion for Sarah and Hank. Are you rooting for the couple? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook and Twitter.

The season finale of "Parenthood" airs Thursday April 17 at 10PM ET/PT on NBC.
 

Get a glimpse of Marsden’s character in the animated show starring Jack McBrayer

By MSN TV Partner Mar 25, 2014 10:04AM

In a new episode premiering March 31, James Marsden will guest start on Disney XD’s “Wander Over Yonder”.


Marsden reunites with "30 Rock" co-star Jack McBrayer in this episode where the hero Sir Brad Starlight (Marsden) enlists Wander (McBrayer) as his goofy sidekick and Sylvia as his noble steed on his quest to save Princess Demurra from the evil Dragon King, King Draykor.


See this pic first on MSN TV: Wander is ecstatic to fulfill his fairytale dream of rescuing a princess, but Sir Brad Starlight is not interested in sharing the spotlight and reminds Wander at every turn that there's only room for one hero.


“Wander Over Yonder” airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Disney XD

 

Kim Kardashian, Wendy Williams hear what regular folk really think about them

By MSN TV Partner Mar 18, 2014 9:18AM
In the the new series from Oxygen, "Celebrities Undercover" will feature two celebrities concealing their true identity with the use of prosthetic make-up to find out what unsuspecting fans and friends really think of them without the distraction of their famous personas.

The season premiere will feature Kim Kardashian, and executive producer Wendy Williams will get a taste of her own medicine as well. In this clip watch Kim K. undergo an impressive make-up overhaul in prep for undercover work: going to a group job interview as a Kardashian fan hoping to become her own new assistant. 

Watch the video:

Other stars features this season include T-Pain, Fantasia, Joey Fatone, Lil’ Kim, Chili, Anthony Anderson, Jaleel White, Adrienne Bailon, Ice-T and Coco.

"Celebrities Undercover" premieres March 18 at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT on Oxygen.

 

Host Justin Willman and Disney stars dish on the new show and offer up advice

By MSN TV Partner Mar 14, 2014 11:15AM

(Disney's Win, Lose or Draw /Adam Taylor, Disney Channel)By Minh Nguyen


It didn’t take long for memories of the original “Win, Lose or Draw” game show to come flooding back as soon as we stepped foot on the set of Disney’s resurrected show of the same name.  Gone was the ‘80s living room set, replaced with bright vibrant colors, fun props and technology everywhere. Host Justin Willman (“Cupcake Wars”) commanded the stage as Disney stars Dove Cameron and Joey Bragg from “Liv and Maddie” battled it out against each other with their teammates.


The premise is pretty simple: two teams of three players (with the Disney stars on each side) compete in drawing contests to win prizes. Thrown into the mix are special challenges (like Shake, Rattle and Draw; Sit and Spin; The Wand) that take advantage of oversized props and fun gadgets. This season will also feature stars from Disney shows "Kickin' It," "Lab Rats," "I Didn't Do It,"  "Austin & Ally," "Jessie," "Dog With a Blog" and "Mighty Med" as well as stars from "Teen Beach Movie."


Over lunch, we were able to speak to Willman, Cameron and Bragg.


For people that aren’t familiar with the original game, how are you describing this to them?

Willman: The simple idea is just that it’s drawing Charades. You get your teammates to guess what you’re drawing. We have a team of writers who write these clues, and the words that they have to draw are so clever.


It's super high-tech, so the old original version was more markers on pads of paper, which was great at the time but here they have these massive touch screens and tons of software they designed just for the games that’s completely interactive.


Contestants have to do a bunch of crazy challenges in round two. Like drawing with a helmet on, where they can’t see anything or drawing with a unicorn stylus and that makes it way tougher but also much more entertaining to watch.


How are you enjoying being a part of the show?

Willman: As a live performer, I’m used to having that instant gratification of a live audience and this feels a lot like that. We’ve got 150 screaming kids, who are having the time of their lives just being there. It’s great because the jokes get instant payback. The excitement, I feed off of it. Even if it’s first thing in the morning, I don’t even need to have my coffee. As soon as that crowd starts to roar, I’m ready to go. It’s a blast.


Bragg: I like the rapid round. I can’t remember what it’s called. Where there’s one person drawing, and two people guessing, then we just switch.


Cameron:  I think the best part for me has actually been, (I know this sounds like such a canned answer), but has been getting to meet these kids. There was this great moment where, it was at the end of the first round when they all kind of flooded in and they hugged us. And some of them were crying, and I wanted to cry. We didn’t realize the gravity of how huge this really is, and “Win, Lose, or Draw” has been great that way. We’ve gotten to interact with a lot of kids.


Justin, what’s the best advice you ever received?

Willman: “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.”


Dove and Joey, you guys seem really polished. What kind of advice do you have for kids that get stage fright?

Bragg: Well, I was doing stand-up comedy, and I don’t mean to be that guy, but it’s one of the hardest things to go up there and say stuff that you’ve written. You don’t have music backing you. I wanted to do something that I’m going to remember. And I think a lot of that is “I’m going to embarrass myself,” but you’re never going to see those people that are watching you ever again. Just do it!


Cameron: I always had a fear of cameras because I grew up on stage. Most things in life are one of those things where once you try it, you realize how OK it is. I just don’t take life too seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyways. So, yeah. Just have fun. Do what you please.


“Disney’s Win, Lose or Draw” airs Mondays through Thursdays at 5 p.m. ET/PT on Disney Channel.

 

She still lives with her parents!

By MSN TV Partner Mar 13, 2014 10:55AM
Later this month, "Extra" host Maria Menounos will premiere her new reality show. "Chasing Maria Menounos" will give fans a peek into her life, including living with her longtime boyfriend and her immigrant parents.

In this interview with Oxygen's On-Air Personality Susie Castillo, Menounos reveals more about her upbringing and what to expect on her new series. Watch this first on MSN TV:


"Chasing Maria Menounos" premieres March 18 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Oxygen.
 

Princess Aslaug brings surprise and intrigue to this scripted drama

By MSN TV Partner Mar 13, 2014 10:17AM
Season 2 of History's "Vikings" is underway. Princess Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland) revealed she was carrying Ragnar's (Travis Fimmel) child, sending rippling effects into his kingdom. In this video extra, Sutherland talks more about her character and how filming went the second time around.


"Vikings" airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on History.
 

"It's not a good day, Mad Max"

By MSN TV Partner Mar 12, 2014 9:56AM

In this "Parenthood" clip, Max (Max Burkholder) wrecks havoc for Sarah (Lauren Graham) and Hank (Ray Romano) when he barges into the studio, interrupting their workflow.


Watch this clip, first on MSN TV:


Parenthood airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.
 

The classic game show has been upgraded with newer technology

By MSN TV Partner Mar 3, 2014 11:36AM

Who remembers the celebrity game show, "Win, Lose or Draw"? Disney Channel has recreated a kids version of it, premiering Monday, March 3. (The show will air Mondays through Thursdays).

 

On "Disney's Win, Lose or Draw" Disney Channel and Disney XD stars team up with kid contestants to compete and win prizes in a battle of drawing skills, creativity and wits. Justin Willman hosts the contemporary version of the popular game show, which also features new technology such as motion-control illustration, interactive multi-touch screen displays and other fun challenges.

 

Watch a clip:


 "Disney’' Win, Lose or Draw" premieres Monday, March 3, at 5 p.m. ET/PT on Disney Channel.