TV News Roundup: Russell Simmons Returns to HBO With ‘All Def Comedy’

Will Thorne

In today’s TV news roundup, producer Russell Simmons returns to HBO for comedy special “All Def Comedy,” and DeWanda Wise has been cast in Spike Lee “She’s Gotta Have It.”


Russell Simmons‘s HBO comedy special “All Def Comedy” will premiere Nov. 12 at 10/9c. The new show is comprised of uncensored special features and stand-up performances filmed in front of a live audience at the Avalon Theatre in September, and will feature a host of comedians, including Chris Powell, Zainab Johnson, Kevin Tate, and “Def Comedy Jam” veteran Tony Roberts.


“Shots Fired” actress DeWanda Wise has been cast in the iconic role of Nola Darling in the upcoming Netflix comedy “She’s Gotta Have It,” Deadline reports. The series is an update of Spike Lee’s 1986 indie film of the same name, and centers around Nola’s struggling to define herself and divide her time amongst her job, her friends and her three lovers. Lee will direct all episodes of the series and will executive produce, along with his wife Tonya Lewis Lee.


Fans of Syfy‘s “Van Helsing” will be able to sink their teeth into 13 more episodes. The NBCU cabler has renewed the show for a second season, which is currently four episodes into its freshman outing. Production on season two of the Dracula re-imagining is set to begin in January 2017.


Smithsonian Channel has ordered a four-part series piggybacking on the upcoming 40th anniversary of 1977 miniseries “Jesus of Nazareth.” “The Real Jesus of Nazareth” will follow Robert Powell, who played Jesus in the original miniseries, as he journeys through modern Israel.


Shaleen Desai has been named VP of scripted programming at CMT. With the impending premiere of “Nashville” on the network and an uptick in scripted projects in development at the network, CMT created the role in order to have someone overseeing that particular genre. Desai will report to Jayson Dinsmore, EVP of development and programming at the network.

Telemundo has appointed Ingrid Sanchez Graham as its new SVP of creative operations. She joins the company from Discovery Networks Latin America/USH, where she held the position of VP, business operations.


For those curious about viewership for Twitter’s “Thursday Night Football” streams, they’re averaging 276,500 viewers per minute (the analogous audience number to TV ratings) over the four games they’ve streamed. The average TV audience (via CBS and NFL Network) for those games was 14.9 million.

Disney Channel original movies are still a big draw, at least among the youths. On Oct. 7, new original movie “The Swap” brought in 1.6 million viewers in the 2-11 demographic and 3.1 million total pairs of eyeballs, which is around what your average Fox comedy pulls in, these days.

L+3/L+7 Update: Speaking of those Fox comedies, when viewing within seven days is counted, some of them double their audiences. Example: The Oct. 4 episode of “New Girl” added 2.4 million viewers from Hulu, the Fox app, and DVR/VOD playback, for a total audience of 4.4 million. It also tacked an extra seven tenths in the demo, resulting in a 1.7 demo rating.

Fox isn’t the only one that reaps the benefits of delayed viewing. ABC’s Kiefer Sutherland drama “Designated Survivor” continues to add beaucoup DVR/VOD viewers. Its Oct. 5 episode grew from a 1.6 demo rating to a 3.5, and 7 million total viewers to 14.3 million.

A caveat about time-shifted viewership, though: Much of it doesn’t make the networks any money up front, since people are either skipping the ads or watching on platforms where the ad load isn’t the same, and so they don’t count towards the ratings guarantees nets make to the advertisers.


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