News Column

'The Simpsons' gets huge cable deal; more Andy Kaufman weirdness: TV Talk

November 15, 2013

YellowBrix

Nov. 15--Today's TV talk includes news about one of the biggest cable deals in TV history, involving "The Simpsons," and another item for the Weird Andy Kaufman News file. Let's get to it.

"The Simpsons" makes a really big deal: The FXX cable network, an offshot of FX, which is already an offshoot of Fox -- head spinning yet? -- is hyperventilating via press release about landing rights to "The Simpsons" reruns and other content.

From the release:

After a vigorous bidding war which resulted in what is believed to be the biggest off-network deal ever, FXX has secured the exclusive cable, VOD and non-linear rights to The Simpsons, the longest-running, most successful comedy series in television history, it was announced today by John Landgraf, CEO, FX Networks and FX Productions and Chuck Saftler, President, Program Strategy, and COO, FX Networks.

Portlanders take justifiable pride in the success of "The Simpsons" -- the longest-running scripted show in TV history -- because it was created by Portland's own Matt Groening. So let's allow ourselves some more reflected glory in this news that "The Simpsons" will live on.

How? Back to the press release:

Beginning in August 2014, through its landmark deal with Twentieth Century Fox Television, FXX will become the cable network home for all seasons of The Simpsons, excluding seasons airing in their first run on FOX. FXNOW, the soon-to-be-launched mobile viewing app of FX Networks for its authenticated subscribers, will be the exclusive non-linear home for all seasons of The Simpsons, excluding seasons airing in their first run on FOX. FXX and FXNOW will get subsequent seasons of The Simpsons as new seasons begin their first run on FOX. For example, beginning in August 2014 FXX will have access to 24 seasons (530 episodes) of the series. Beginning in September of 2014, FXX will have access to the 25th season of The Simpsons, when season 26 debuts on FOX.

If you're still wondering about FXX, here's a bit more info:

FXX is the new basic cable entertainment network from FX Networks which launched on September 2, 2013. Geared toward a young adult audience, the schedule features original series, movies, and acquired series. The channel is anchored by the acclaimed hit comedies It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The League, and Legit, and Ali G: Rezurection coming in February 2014, FXX is carried in more than 72 million homes. FXX and its sister channels FX and FXM comprise FX Networks, a business unit of 21 Century Fox.

Andy Kaufman may be alive, or not, or whatever: Among the showbiz conspiracy theories that keep popping up like deep-rooted weeds, the "Andy Kaufman faked his own death" story is a hardy perennial. The latest iteration occurred earlier this week, with a flurry of stories about claims that the comedian and actor ("Taxi") didn't actually die in 1984 of cancer, but was still alive.

Quick refresher: Andy Kaufman's brother Michael, appeared at a New York comedy club earlier this week and said he'd gotten a letter from Andy. And then a woman who claimed to be Andy's daughter came onstage.

Oy. It all took off from there and got stranger and stranger, as this CNN account will tell you. But then Michael Kaufman appeared on CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper," and told Tapper that he believes he's part of a hoax.

This is all giving me a headache. There's much more to the saga, including the Smoking Gun reporting that the "daughter" is actually an actress who Michael Kaufman brought in on the ruse, and on and on.

And there are more reports now that the "daughter" was just pulling a stunt. Andy Kaufman was famous for his elaborate put-on humor, but all this would make even him roll his eyes, I suspect.

While we're still processing -- or trying to forget we ever heard about -- all of this, now

Splitsider reports on a book coming out by Bob Zmuda and Lynn Margulies, Andy's writing partner and girlfriend, respectively. The book is scheduled to be published on Oct. 7 2014. Splitsider shares some passages from the description of the book, titled "Andy Kaufman: The Truth, Finally."

According to the description, Zmuda and Margulies will "talk about the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death with chillingly morbid candor. They also reveal the secret that Andy made Lynne and Bob promise never to tell until both of his parents had died. A secret that will change everything you ever thought you knew about Andy Kaufman ..."

Hoo boy. We're not done yet.

-- Kristi Turnquist

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