Eric Deggans | KUOW News and Information

Eric Deggans

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

For more than a decade, CBS Entertainment chief Nina Tassler seemed like the last woman standing in network TV, maintaining control of the most-watched broadcast network's drama, comedy and late-night offerings while executives at rival outlets rose and fell.

If there was a moment that best summed up the inspired, surprising and sometimes uneven nature of Stephen Colbert's debut as host of CBS' Late Show last night, it came toward the program's end.

That's when Colbert, known for his willingness to croon a tune or two, jumped on stage to belt out a version of Sly and the Family Stone's Everyday People with an all-star band that included bluesman Buddy Guy, gospel legend Mavis Staples and Alabama Shakes singer Brittany Howard.

Music icon Prince is worried about the future of the music business for artists, and his top priority can be summed up in one word: Freedom.

"Record contracts are just like — I'm gonna say the word – slavery," Prince told a group of 10 journalists Saturday night, during a meet and greet at his Paisley Park Studios in Minneapolis. "I would tell any young artist ... don't sign."

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Jon Stewart bid farewell to "The Daily Show" last night in a program that seemed to feature everybody who'd ever appeared on the show during his tenure. NPR TV critic Eric Deggans was watching.

For The Daily Show fans, this may be the final, bruising indignity.

As the curtain falls tonight on the very first Republican presidential debate — featuring joke-magnet Donald Trump as the election season begins in earnest – satirist supreme Jon Stewart will already be saying goodbye.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

When the BBC canned the host of one of its best rated programs "Top Gear," it was a big deal. Millions of fans tuned in each week to see longtime star Jeremy Clarkson and the flashy stunts of the long-running car show.

For connoisseurs of wonderfully bad television, there is a fine line between stuff that's so bad it's great fun to watch and stuff that's just bad.

And Syfy's latest Sharknado movie — the third one based on tornadoes filled with killer sharks terrorizing America, if you can believe it — has finally, unfortunately, fallen into that last category.

If there is one complaint which has dogged the Emmy awards year after year, it is the repetition of beloved series and performers, time and again, as nominees and winners.

But all that bad buzz went out the window when nominations for the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards were announced Thursday, revealing a roster of nominees with more new faces and new shows than the contest has featured in quite a long while.

How do you write jokes for a TV comedy about race and culture when there are riots over how police treat black suspects, and a gunman just shot down nine people in a black church?

If you're Robin Thede, head writer for The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, you think carefully about where you focus the joke.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

(Be warned: This story has lots of spoiler-ish details about True Detectives' first few new episodes)

As I watched the first three episodes from HBO's new season of True Detective, one thought kept nagging: Why isn't this more, well, surprising?

Consider this scene, featuring Colin Farrell as Ray Velcoro, a police officer whose wife has been beaten and raped. Vince Vaughn is Frank Semyon, a crime boss who slips Farrell's character a picture of the possible culprit.

NBC has worked out a deal to keep tarnished news anchor Brian Williams at the company, sending him to MSNBC to serve as anchor of breaking news and special reports.

But this brings a new question: How, exactly, can NBC get viewers to trust him again?

Amazon's new romantic comedy Catastrophe begins with a whirlwind tryst that could have been ripped from the latest contemporary romance novel.

Rob is a handsome, witty American advertising executive in London on business. After a chance meeting in a bar, he has an amazing week of romance and sex with a sharp, beautiful Irish schoolteacher named Sharon.

The third season of Orange Is the New Black begins with middle-class slacker-turned-prison inmate Piper Chapman in a pretty dark place.

How can we tell? She's having a casual conversation about suicide with the prison's electrician. And when she suggests using pills instead of car exhaust in a garage, the electrician dismisses her for choosing a way out that's way too expensive.

"I didn't realize that my hypothetical suicide had a budget," Piper says, sarcastically. A moment later, she realizes, "this is not a healthy discussion."

This is dangerous ground for a critic who has seen every episode of HBO's sword and dragon-fueled fantasy drama Game of Thrones but hasn't read one page of the books by George R.R. Martin which inspired the series.

But as the show winds up its fifth season Sunday, I'm beginning to wonder if some of the folks complaining about the extreme violence and controversial sexual content in recent scenes aren't missing the point a bit.

The moment comes a minute or so into the trailer for Dr. Ken, Ken Jeong's new fall comedy for ABC.

He's playing a Korean-American doctor with no bedside manners and a wacky family; not a bad setup for a sitcom that will straddle the work/family setting. Dave Foley, the ex-Newsradio star who plays Jeong's boss, chides his employee for insulting a patient, demanding he apologize.

"And if I don't?" Jeong replies.

When the final episode came, after weeks of accolades and tributes to his genius, David Letterman made sure he punctured the emotion of the moment with a little old-fashioned, self-deprecating sarcasm.

From the beginnings of the Mad Men phenomenon, many of the show's fans wondered if superstar adman Don Draper was destined to write one of the iconic advertising catchphrases of the time.

So it's a testament to the skills of show creator Matthew Weiner that some regular viewers were still surprised by the show's series finale Sunday, which implies that Don invented the classic 1971 Coca-Cola campaign, "I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke." This, after he concluded a long, soul-searching trip through America with a trip to a California yoga retreat.

What I first noticed about David Letterman was how quickly he ditched the suit.

During a taping of the Late Show on Monday at the Ed Sullivan Theater in Manhattan, he put off donning his suit jacket as long as possible, greeting the crowd in just a shirt and tie for a pre-show Q & A session before shrugging on the coat just as recording began.

The long wait for Muppets fans is over: ABC is bringing back the beloved puppets in a prime-time TV series this fall for the first time in nearly 20 years.

News of the new show, called The Muppets, dropped this week as TV networks begin calling producers, stars and studio executives in advance of next week's "upfronts" — the annual ritual where broadcasters roll out their fall schedules for advertisers to score advance sales.

For fans of BBC America's majestically complicated drama Orphan Black, this might be the toughest task they face all year: Explaining to newbies what the heck is going on just before the new season starts on Saturday.

Spoiler alert: Several plot points from the new season are discussed below

The series started with Sarah Manning, a con artist and onetime street urchin, stumbling upon a well-dressed woman who looked exactly like her, crying on a train platform — just before jumping in front of an oncoming train.

Here's why I'm going to miss FX's modern-day Kentucky Western, Justified, so much.

In last week's episode, our hero, unflinching U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, has ambushed his bitter rival, backwoods Kentucky crime lord Boyd Crowder, shooting at him from across a darkened field on the side of a mountain in hopes of finally putting down the man who is most like his opposite number.

"You've given up everything that you are, so you can murder me," Crowder (Walton Goggins) yells at Givens (Timothy Olyphant) while hunched behind a rock for cover.

Even after an accident with a carload full of pills gets her arrested, Nurse Jackie Peyton can't be honest about her addictions. Especially not while explaining her sudden absence to her ex-husband Kevin.

"Where were you this past week?" Kevin asks, tensely.

"Really, you want to know where I was?" Jackie responds. "I went to a detox program."

"Is that what you call jail?" he shoots back. "I was notified of the accident. The car's still in my name."

(Spoiler alert: Details from the new seasons of several shows follow below.)

HBO's hit fantasy drama Game of Thrones ended last year with the most shocking death of the season: Tywin Lannister's.

Lannister, the most influential power broker in the fictional, medieval-style continent of Westeros, was killed by his son, the tortured alcoholic dwarf Tyrion.

When the show returns with a new episode Sunday night, Tyrion is on the run. The man who is helping him, a scheming spymaster named Varys, wants Tyrion's help.

But Tyrion isn't having it.

(Be warned: Some spoilers about Sunday's episode follow.)

If Mad Men has a mission statement, it's probably this: The times may change tremendously, but people rarely do.

Even when they really want to.

Consider the show's lead character, hotshot ad man Don Draper, a cool, in-control success to those who know him the least. As Sunday's episode begins, he is single again, a second marriage left in tatters due to his wandering eye.

Looks like it took a 36-year-old comic actor from a small British town no one has heard of to bring back the oldest of old-school American TV talk show traditions.

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DON GONYEA, HOST:

As its freshman season ends Wednesday night, Fox's hip-hop family drama Empire has emerged as that rarest of birds in the broadcast TV industry: a show where the viewership is always going up.

When the series debuted Jan. 7, it drew a respectable 9.8 million viewers, according to the Nielsen company. But then the show about a family-run music empire achieved something few others have ever managed: It increased its audience every week, growing to 14.9 million viewers on March 4.

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