Tidbits from around the dial
We’ve all met a dog who “thinks he’s people.” Apparently Animal Planet now thinks it’s Syfy. The network announced its sensationalized and questionably scientific “Monster Week” will return with a 9-day (see, that’s not even a week) programming event starting Sunday, May 18. On Sunday, May 25, the network will premiere the original movie Blood Lake: Attack of the Killer Lampreys. The film comes to us from the creators of Sharknado and stars Shannen Doherty (“Beverly Hills 90210”) and Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future). Words fail me.
Speaking of Syfy, the network continues its new dictum of actually airing sci-fi/fantasy shows by ordering two new series orders for airing later this year. “Z Nation” is a post-apocalyptic drama that takes place in a world devastated by zombies. In it, a group of everyday people struggle to deliver a survivor immune to the zombie plague to California. Sounds like your basic “Walking Dead” rip off, but it does come to us from The Asylum, makers of Transmorphers, Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies and—you guessed it—Sharknado. So it should be magically awful. On the other end of the spectrum comes “Olympus,” a mythological series which reimagines the Greek gods “in a way never before imagined.” It comes from executive producer Robert Halmi Sr., who gave us such fantasy-based miniseries as The Odyssey, Gulliver’s Travels, Alice In Wonderland and The 10th Kingdom.
Conan O’Brien is headed to San Diego Comic-Con this year. That’s no big surprise, since plenty of movie and TV stars stop by the annual event to plug their various projects to the nerdy faithful. But from July 8 through 12, O’Brien will actually record a week of shows at the convention itself. This is the first time a late-night talk show has broadcast from San Diego during the massive pop cultural event. The show will be shot in the historic Spreckels Theatre in downtown San Diego and will presumably include major guests straight from the convention floor. “Conan” airs Monday through Thursday on TBS.
TV news and talk-show legend Barbara Walters is calling it quits after more than 50 years in the business. Walters announced last year that she would be retiring as one of the hosts of ABC’s “The View.” May 16 has now been confirmed as Walters’ final day on the air. ABC will mark the occasion with a primetime special highlighting her illustrious career, which began when she was hired as a writer and segment producer of “women’s interest stories” on NBC’s “The Today Show” back in 1962.
World Wrestling Entertainment just aired its 30th annual edition of “WrestleMania,” but is still woozy thanks to some questionable business moves. The entertainment juggernaut recently made the bold move to an online-video service model. Rather than watching WWE on basic cable television, as in decades past, fans are now asked to join a monthly download service which gives them access to new content (including WrestleMania) plus thousands of classic matches. In the wake of WrestleMania XXX, WWE Inc. had hoped to announce that its new service had topped out at 800,000 subscribers. Unfortunately only 667,287 fans have ponied up the $9.99 a month so far. WWE founder and CEO Vince McMahon was relying on that revenue after the company’s “Raw” and “SmackDown” shows failed to renew an agreement with Comcast Corp’s USA and Syfy cable channels. WWE still hopes to lure 1 million subscribers by the end of the year.