After the coffee. Before the premiere party for HBO's "Silicon Valley."
The Skinny: I highly recommend HBO's "Silicon Valley," which debuts this Sunday. I watched five episodes and the show got funnier with each one. Although it is set in the tech world, it's broad enough for all. Thursday's headlines include a look at Amazon's new set-top box and a preview of the summer box office, which is filled with sequels. Also, the website Five Thirty Eight has an interesting analysis of movies aimed at women.
Daily Dose: DirecTV has signed a multi-year deal to carry WeatherNation, the network it started to offer after its renewal talks for the Weather Channel went off the rails. Making WeatherNation a permanent fixture on DirecTV would seem to mean the forecast for Weather Channel returning to the satellite broadcaster is cloudy. However, both sides say they are talking again.
Let me stand next to your Fire. Amazon finally unveiled its long-awaited set-top box Wednesday that it hopes will compete with Roku and Apple TV and further drive subscriptions for its Prime Instant Video. Like Netfix, Prime Instant features acquired content and some original shows. Called Fire TV, the box costs about $99, which is also the annual cost for a Prime Instant subscription. The question is whether Amazon's box will differentiate itself enough from established competitors to have a chance. Personally, I have a TV with the Internet built in, so I can access Netflix or Prime without any box. Aren't I cool? More on Amazon Fire from the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Re/Code.
It's the most wonderful time of the year. No, I'm not talking about Christmas. For Hollywood, it's the summer movie season, or as it should be called, the summer sequel season. There will be 13 sequels released in the next five months (summer season actually starts in April) including "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," which is opening this week. Reuters offers a preview of what Hollywood has in store for us in the coming months.
Debunking myths. Hollywood talks a lot about the importance of women in front and behind the movie screen, but we all know much of that is just talk. Even the movies with female characters often revolve around relationships with men. Well, Five Thirty Eight, the new Nate Silver-led, ESPN-backed site takes aim at debunking some of the myths about box-office performance for serious, female-driven movies. It's worth a read.
Ratings yes, credibility not so much. CNN's decision to devote so many hours of coverage to the missing Malaysia Airlines plane was a no-brainer in terms of ratings. Viewers ate it up. But did CNN's decision to go all out on the plane (and entertain wild speculation about its fate) and give less attention to the breaking news in the Ukraine hurt its credibility as a news outfit? That's what news consultant Andrew Tyndall tells the Hollywood Reporter in a guest column. "CNN seriously undercut its reputation as the go-to place for major news by disregarding Ukraine," he writes.
No talking booze in front of regulators. How careful is Comcast being about its proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable? So careful that the media giant doesn't want its TV hosts talking about certain subjects, including wine, according to "Today" personality Kathie Lee Gifford. In an Associated Press interview, Gifford said she was told not to excessively plug her new line of chardonnay, adding, "we're in the middle of the big takeover of a major corporation. I think they just want to be — and rightfully so — very careful."
Sticking around. While there is a lot of musical chairs among TV journalists (Josh Elliott, Maria Bartiromo, Cynthia McFadden), Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer is staying put as host of the morning show "America's Newsroom." More on Hemmer's new deal from TVNewser.
RIP. Lucy Hood, president and chief executive of the TV Academy and a former longtime media executive at Fox, died of cancer Wednesday at the age of 56. Obituaries from Variety and the Los Angeles Times.