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Piers Morgan exits CNN after turning down offer to host specials

It's official: Piers Morgan has left CNN in search of "pastures new."

The British-born TV host tweeted Tuesday morning that he has officially left the cable network after turning down CNN boss Jeff Zucker's offer to present 40 news specials over two years.

"After considerable thought, I decided not to accept it -- and to try pastures new," Morgan wrote.

A CNN spokeswoman did not respond to an email seeking comment.

"His deal is now over as of yesterday," John Ferriter, Morgan's manager, wrote in an email. "It is all amicable."

"Piers Morgan Live" ended its run on CNN back in March and it was  unclear what he might do next. The show -- then named "Piers Morgan Tonight" -- premiered in January 2011 with heavy promotion and a parade of A-list celebrity guests such as Oprah Winfrey.

But ratings subsequently eroded sharply and Morgan's show became an emblem of the overall troubles afflicting CNN's primetime lineup, which has struggled against Fox News and MSNBC. His departure comes as CNN...

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Lifetime's 'Saved by the Bell' movie draws heavy Twitter jeers

There were no sharknados to be found in Lifetime's "The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story" that aired Monday, but the behind-the-scenes drama about the early '90s teen sitcom drew its share of social media scorn and commentary.

The movie, based on the tell-all book "Behind the Bell" by former cast member Dustin Diamond (who played Screech), promised a gossipy look at the hook-ups, rivalries and other tawdry doings on and off the set of the seminal series that aired from 1989 to 1993.

But despite being primed for a trashy good time, a lot of fans seemed surprised by the TV movie's odder moments, such as a Diamond fantasy in which he got lots of pretty ladies into a hot tub with him while sporting a bizarre, cartoonish he-man torso. Or that they tried to give the story a happy ending, despite the troubled later careers of Lark Voorhies (Lisa Turtle) and Diamond, who released his own sex tape in 2006.

As New York style blogger Diana Middleton wrote, "Can't believe I watched the whole...

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David Muir debuts as ABC 'World News' anchor, replacing Diane Sawyer

David Muir made his debut as anchor of ABC's "World News Tonight" Monday evening, succeeding Diane Sawyer who signed off last week after five years on the job. 

Muir's unveiling, on a Labor Day evening when many viewers were still making their way home from the holiday weekend, was a decidedly low-key event. 

"It is an honor to begin this journey with you," he told viewers Monday before moving into reports on a Marine helicopter crash in the Gulf of Aden, severe late-summer weather and the first day of school. Later in the broadcast, he also acknowledged a congratulatory Tweet from Sawyer, saying, "Thank you friend, for everything."

At just 40, Muir, who was a frequent fill-in for Sawyer and will continue as co-anchor of the news magazine "20/20," is now the youngest network news anchor in 50 years. He also steps into the job at a moment of strength for "World News Tonight," which in recent months has repeatedly edged out overall ratings leader "NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams"...

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Russian space sex lizards have died; does John Oliver know?

A group of geckos shot into space by Russia to monitor their sex habits in zero gravity have died.

The geckos, made famous largely by a segment during "Last Week Tonight With John Oliver," were found dead inside a capsule when the Foton-M satellite carrying them landed Monday, the Information Telegraph Agency of Russia reported.

Early theories have the geckos -- five females and one male -- freezing to death, according to the Interfax wire service.

The geckos were put in the spotlight when Russia's space agency lost contact with the satellite carrying them. News stations around the U.S. reported the bizarre experiment and the loss of communication, but it was the former reporter for "The Daily Show"-turned-new-HBO star who really sold the tale. 

In July, Oliver ran a segment on his show demanding that the Russians do everything in their power to retrieve the capsule full of mating geckos.

With the hashtag #GoGetThoseGeckos, Oliver told his audience, with the help of multiple celebrity...

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Tuesday's TV Highlights: 'The Fidel Castro Tapes' and more

Customized TV Listings are available here: www.latimes.com/tvtimes

Click here to download TV listings for the week of Aug. 31 - Sept. 6, 2014 in PDF format

This week's TV Movies


SERIES

Rizzoli & Isles In the season finale, a respected county prosecutor (Jamie Bamber) is arrested for murder, but as the evidence against him starts to mount, Jane (Angie Harmon) begins to believe he is innocent. 9 p.m. TNT

Royal Pains Hank and Evan (Mark Feuerstein, Paulo Costanzo) search for their missing half-sister in the season finale. 9 p.m. USA

Drunk History This new episode tries to focus on a few of the nation's first ladies; Courteney Cox, Casey Wilson and Alia Shawkat guest star. 10:30 p.m. Comedy Central

SPECIALS

The Story of Frozen: Making a Disney Animated Classic This new special has plenty of material about the creation of the 2013 animated musical, including commentary from voice-cast members Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel. 8 p.m. ABC

The Fidel Castro Tapes This new documentary...

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'The Strain' recap: 'Creatures of the Night' closes in, and a major death

Is it wrong to be almost giddy about the latest episode of "The Strain," FX's hit summer thriller from creature creator Guillermo del Toro? No, it is not.

Because Abraham Setrakian and Vasiliy Fet meet for the first time, bond immediately over the concept of fighting evil, exchange quips about Home Depot-grade weapons and obliterate some undead. It. Is. Glorious.

Fans of this vampocalyptic series have anticipated that these titans would come together at some point. That the characters fall so quickly into lockstep, promising to truly get the ball (and the heads) rolling, makes episode 8, "Creatures of the Night," especially rewarding.

There's never been a moment's worth of wishy-washiness from Setrakian (David Bradley), and now viewers will be able to expect that same level of bravado and conviction from Fet. Plus the New York City exterminator, played by Kevin Durand, is a hunk of manly man, so his expanded screen time is a little something for the ladies. Woot, woot.

It can't be...

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'Masters of Sex' recap: Researchers go from observing to healing

Rather than just study human sexual response, researchers at the Masters and Johnson Clinic enter the realm of treatment on “Mirror, Mirror,” Episode 208 of Showtime’s “Masters of Sex.”

“We’re beginning to explore the idea of intervention, working directly with patients,” Dr. William Masters (Michael Sheen) points out. “Our new mission here is not simply to observe. It’s also to heal.”

Not surprisingly, an area of particular interest for Bill is impotence. It’s a condition he developed and keeps hidden after discovering his research partner/lover Virginia Johnson (Lizzy Caplan) is sexually active with other men.

Fortunately for Bill, sassy office manager Betty DiMello (Annaleigh Ashford) – a former prostitute – knows a variety of practical solutions for this common disorder.

“Most of the time it’s a mental block,” explains Betty, who sometimes gave clients a “special tonic from India.” This concoction of rum and cayenne pepper was only a placebo. But usually it worked.

Afflicted with a...

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Monday's TV Highlights: 'MasterChef' on Fox

Customized TV Listings are available here: www.latimes.com/tvtimes

Click here to download TV listings for the week of Aug. 31 - Sept. 6, 2014 in PDF format

This week's TV Movies


 

SERIES

Tom Reed's for Members Only TV This new episode recalls the "Soul Sisters" including Ella Fitzgerald, the Supremes, Kim Weston, Fanita Jams/Blossoms, the Shirelles and the Caravans. 11 a.m. KSCI

Running Wild With Bear Grylls Tamron Hall ("Today") takes part in a survivalist challenge for two days in the remote Utah desert in this new episode. 8 p.m. NBC

MasterChef In a takeover of a Los Angeles restaurant, the six remaining contestants must prepare an elegant meal flawlessly. Chef Michael Schlow joins Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich and Graham Elliot in judging the meal. 8 p.m. Fox

Houdini Adrien Brody stars as the magician, escape artist and skeptic in this new biography. 9 p.m. History (Part 1, concludes Tuesday)

Dallas In this new episode Elena (Jordana Brewster) has a showdown with the Ewings....

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Saturday's TV Highlights and Weekend Talk: 'Doctor Who'

Customized TV Listings are available here: www.latimes.com/tvtimes

Click here to download TV listings for the week of Aug. 31 - Sept. 6, 2014 in PDF format

This week's TV Movies


SERIES

Unforgettable When a powerful CEO is murdered at an elite prep school, Carrie and Al (Poppy Montgomery, Dylan Walsh) go back to school in this new episode. Wrenn Schmidt and Mike Doyle guest star. 8 p.m. CBS

Cedar Cove Olivia (Andie MacDowell) clashes with a new ADA (Cindy Busby), who sees Luke's (Jesse Hutch) assault case as her ticket out of to the big time. Julia Benson also guest stars in this new episode.8 p.m. Hallmark

Reckless Lee Anne's (Georgina Haig) case against the Charleston Police Department has been simmering, and Roy (Cam Gigandet) makes a move to put an end to it in this new episode. Shawn Hatosy and Anna Wood also star, with guest stars David Keith, Kelly Rutherford and Susan Walters. 9 p.m. CBS

Doctor Who A Dalek fleet surrounds a lone rebel ship, and only the Doctor (Peter...

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TV Picks: 'Party Down,' Funny or Die video selection, 'Manhattan'

"Party Down" (Hulu). This comedy about a less than merry band of caterers, which went for two seasons on Starz in 2009 and 2010, was created by "Veronica Mars" mastermind Rob Thomas with "Mars" cohorts Dan Ethridge and John Enhom and actor Paul Rudd, who appeared in the pilot but was a movie star by the time the series came around. Even so the cast reads like some retrospective supergroup whose album you can't believe you've never heard (unless you did): Adam Scott (in for Rudd), recent Rolling Stone cover girl Lizzy Caplan, Ken Marino, Jane Lynch (who left near the end of the first season for "Glee" but returned for what turned out to be the series' finale), Martin Starr, Megan Mullally and Ryan Hansen (now going from the axed "Bad Teacher" to the new "Bad Judge"), but with appearances also from cool kids Ken Jeong, Joey Lauren Adams, Kristen Bell, June Diane Raphael, and various cool kids like Jim Piddock, Paul Scheer, Thomas Lennon, J.K. Simmons and Rachael Harris among others. (My...

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Jon Hamm mines Russian lit in darkly comic 'Young Doctor's Notebook'

In the Ovation series "A Young Doctor's Notebook," Jon Hamm and Daniel Radcliffe star as young and old versions of the same character, an unnamed physician assigned to a tiny hospital in a remote village in revolutionary Russia. Think "Northern Exposure" meets "Dr. Zhivago."

Adapted from a collection of semiautobiographical stories by Mikhail Bulgakov, it's a surprisingly low-profile, offbeat project for two actors known for iconic roles, but there are plenty of reasons to watch other than the chance to see Harry Potter and Don Draper on screen together. 

Though it's a period piece with a literary pedigree, as is "Mad Men," the darkly comic and surreal "A Young Doctor's Notebook" is also in keeping with the quirky material Hamm has gravitated toward outside of that groundbreaking AMC series — shows including "Archer," "Childrens Hospital" and the IFC comedy "The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret," with which it shares a producer and several writers. 

Sporting an impressive...

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TV This Week Aug. 31 - Sept 6: 'Houdini' on History

Customized TV Listings are available here: www.latimes.com/tvtimes

Click here to download TV listings for the week of Aug. 31 - Sept. 6, 2014 in PDF format

This week's TV Movies


 

SUNDAY  

"Jay Leno's Garage: The Ultimate Car Week" finds the former "Tonight Show" host in Pebble Beach for the annual Concours d'Elegance. Leno likes cars? Who knew? 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. CNBC

See if Britain's MI6 espionage agency really sends its agents out in Aston Martins equipped with missiles and ejector seats in the special "Secrets of Her Majesty's Secret Service." 8 p.m. KOCE

The Muscular Dystrophy Assn. has no Ice Bucket Challenge, just the "2014 MDA Show of Strength Telethon" with performances by American Authors, Aloe Blacc and Jason Derulo. 9 p.m. ABC

"Masterpiece Mystery!" will leave you "Breathless" with this three-part tale about a smooth-talking surgeon (Jack Davenport) in early 1960s London. Zoe Boyle and Catherine Steadman also star. 9 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. KOCE; next Sunday, 9 p.m.

...

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