News Column

Lansbury sorry to see 'Murder' title used again [Derived headline] [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (PA)]

November 11, 2013


Lansbury sorry to see 'Murder' title used again

Angela Lansbury says "it's a mistake" for NBC to call a new show "Murder, She Wrote."

The 88-year-old actress said she's a fan of Octavia Spencer, who is set to star in a rebooted version of the hit TV show, saying, "I wish her well, but I wish it wasn't in 'Murder, She Wrote.' "

Lansbury, who will accept an honorary Academy Award in Los Angeles later this week, said "Murder, She Wrote" was "the greatest doorway to the world" because of the international popularity of lead character Jessica Fletcher.

"I think it's a mistake to call it 'Murder, She Wrote,'" Lansbury said, "because 'Murder, She Wrote' will always be about a Cabot Cove and this wonderful little group of people who told those lovely stories and enjoyed a piece of that place, and also enjoyed Jessica Fletcher, who is a rare and very individual kind of person. ... So, I'm sorry that they have to use the title 'Murder, She Wrote,' even though they have access to it and it's their right."

Lansbury was already a Tony-winning actress and three-time Oscar nominee when she joined the show, which aired from 1984 to 1996 and brought her worldwide acclaim.

-- Associated Press

Pittsburgh Symphony recording earns praise

The new CD of Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra performing tone poems by Richard Strauss on the Reference Recordings label, being released Nov. 12, has received its first rave review.

"Let's be very clear; this is what Strauss should sound like," writes Brian Wigman on Classical Net (, who goes on to say that the Pittsburgh Symphony is "clearly one of the very best orchestras in the world right now."

Comparing the new recording to one by Gustavo Dudamel and the Berlin Philharmonic, Wigman writes, "As it stands now, the superior ensemble is to be found in Pittsburgh, with absolutely radiant brass playing and winds that ooze character. The recorded sound flatters all sections, and allows for the maximum amount of color to come rushing out of your speakers. ... Unlike Dudamel, Honeck infuses the music with a real sense of purpose throughout."

-- Mark Kanny

'Downton' renewed for a fifth season

The Crawleys are coming back: Britain's ITV and PBS said hit family saga "Downton Abbey," about an aristocratic family and their servants in the early 20th century, will return for a fifth season.

The renewal is hardly a surprise. Season 4, which recently ended in the United Kingdom, averaged 11.8 million viewers, ranking as the top-rated drama there, and the series is also the most-watched drama in PBS history, with last season's finale averaging 8.2 million. Season 4 will air Jan. 5 to Feb. 23 on PBS, following a preview special, "Return to Downton Abbey," set for Dec. 1.

If history is a guide, Season 5 will air on British television next fall and in the United States in early 2015.

-- USA Today

Disney: We're ending SOAPnet on Dec. 31

SOAPnet's bubble has finally burst. On Dec. 31, Walt Disney Co. will pull the plug on the cable channel it created 14 years ago to squeeze extra life from its popular daytime dramas.

Like all great soap-opera characters, this one didn't go down without a fight.

Disney announced three years ago its plan to fold SOAPnet to make space for Disney Junior, a channel for toddlers. That channel launched in early 2012, but cable and satellite TV operators weren't ready to give up SOAPnet. They didn't want to risk legions of vocal soap-opera fans getting into a lather, or worse, moving to a rival service.

So, for nearly two years, the entertainment giant has provided programming for both channels, including the one it doomed long ago.

"SOAPnet had a great run," Ben Pyne, president of global distribution for Disney Media Networks, said. "It served an audience of super-soap fans. And when given the opportunity, all of our affiliates kept the channel up and running."

The channel, which launched in January 2000, was created to give working women the opportunity to catch up on their favorite soaps -- "General Hospital," "All My Children," "The Young and the Restless" - - at night after work.

The channel became a big moneymaker. In 2010, its peak year, SOAPnet threw off $111 million in cash flow, according to consulting firm SNL Kagan.

In an age of video cassette-recorder, SOAPnet made it easy to follow multiple soap operas at the same time, according to Ed Martin, a soap opera expert.

But the digital video recorder changed all that. It became easy for viewers to record multiple shows and watch the episodes at a more convenient time. The shift in consumer behavior made soaps less profitable for the networks. Audiences dribbled away, and advertisers migrated to other platforms.

Now only four soaps remain on the broadcast networks: "General Hospital" on ABC, "The Young and the Restless" and "The Bold and the Beautiful" on CBS and "Days of Our Lives" on NBC.

SOAPnet is still available in 66 million homes. Disney has notified cable operators that it will no longer provide programming for the channel after Dec. 31.

-- Los Angeles Times

A service of YellowBrix, Inc.

For more stories covering arts and entertainment, please see HispanicBusiness' Arts & Entertainment Channel

Story Tools Facebook Linkedin Twitter RSS Feed Email Alerts & Newsletters