News Briefs: NBC Will Spend Three Hours Airing a Billionaire's First Flight Into Space


... NBC has announced via the Today show that it will air a three-hour broadcast of a rich man and his two children being shot into space. Who are those people, you ask? Virgin America founder Sir Richard Branson (you may know his name from that time Kate Winslet saved his mother from a fire on his private island) and his offspring, Holly and Sam. The program will cover the maiden voyage/first commercial space flight of Branson and Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo. It's meant to boost publicity for an upcoming NBC reality series in which everyday people compete for a literal trip out of this world, a project that Branson is also involved with. We're T-minus I-don't-know-how-long until any of this happens, as no date has been set. [Deadline]


... Sundance Channel, which is currently in the midst of airing the horrific (in a good way!) French drama The Returned, would like to remind you that this isn't the first time it's aired a really, really great TV show you might not be aware of. The network's original series Rectify is six episodes of some of the best new TV of 2013, and it will air the first season in its entirety on Saturday, November 23 beginning at 2pm. I do understand that this schedule might conflict with your plans to watch Doctor Who all day, but that's why you have a DVR. Use it. Watch Rectify. Be a good person. [Sundance via press release]


... I know you probably forgot it again this year, but Mickey Mouse's birthday is coming up really soon. It's on Monday, November 18, to be exact, and he's turning 85. I got him a new pair of shorts. Sigh, sure, I guess you can sign the card (lazy!). Anyway, Disney Channel is celebrating with the first-ever extended episode of the Emmy Award-winning Mickey Mouse cartoon shorts. The special seven-minute cartoon is titled "Potatoland," and follows Mickey, Donald and Goofy on a road trip to Idaho to fulfill Goofy's lifelong dream of visiting the Potatoland theme park. P.S. Did you know that Mickey is currently voiced by Chris Diamantopoulos? [Disney via press release]

... ABC has given a pilot order to An American Education, a single-camera comedy based on the British series Bad Education. Jack Whitehall will reprise his role from the original series, playing an unorthodox young teacher named Alfie Wickers in the U.S. version as well. [Deadline]

... The Voice is giving some power to the people. During the November 12 results show, viewers will have the opportunity to instantly save their favorite artists from elimination via Twitter. Viewers will need to tweet #VoiceSave along with the contestant’s name in order to vote. This is all fine and dandy for viewers in the Eastern and Central time zones, but those who call the Mountain or Pacific regions home will have to tweet their votes during the live East Coast airing in order to make 'em count. [NBC via press release]

... Two words: Psych Musical. USA Network has released a new trailer for the sure-to-be-fun two-hour special that airs December 15 at 9pm. Unfortunately, the video isn't embeddable, so you'll have to head over to TV Line to watch it (after you finish reading the rest of today's News Briefs, though). [TV Line]

... I can't believe it's already time to start talking about what we plan to marathon during that lazy, gluttonous four-day bender we call Thanksgiving. You know, when we pretend we're all thankful to see our families, but really we just wish they'd go back to Indiana so we can watch TV in our sweatpants for 72 hours straight. Anyway, Syfy is gearing up to help us achieve our boob-tubing goals with a two-day James Bond marathon beginning with Tomorrow Never Dies on Thursday, November 28 at 1am. That's followed by a dozen or so other films, including Die Another Day and Casino Royale. And then on Saturday, November 30, the network's got six Star Trek movies on the docket, including Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Finishing out the weekend is the worst movie ever made,  Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull on Sunday, December 1 at 8pm (you can probably skip that one). [Syfy via press release]

... Uh-oh, the ratings for last night's amusing (and completely cracked out) episode of Glee tied the show's lowest ratings ever. "A  Katy or a Gaga" drew only 4 million viewers and a 1.5 rating in the adult demo. Ratings haven't been that low since last year's episode that ran the day before Thanksgiving. Yikes. [EW]

... Kristen Schaal (The Daily Show) has teamed up with her husband Rich Blomquist, as well as Chris Miller and Phil Lloyd (21 Jump Street), for American Monster, a new comedy they just sold to ABC. Schaal will star as a misfit from a small town who becomes a celebrity when she goes on trial for murder. [Deadline]

... A few weeks back we told you about Syfy's new reality series Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge, which pits 10 "aspiring creature creators" against one another as they attempt to craft the best and most imaginative muppets in a series of weekly challenges. Well, now we know who'll host the puppet-filled proceedings: Gigi Edgley of Farscape. Additionally, Beth Hathaway, an industry veteran who's worked on films such as Edward Scissorhands and Jurassic Park, and Kirk Thatcher, who designed most of the characters for and co-produced the series Dinosaurs, will serve as judges alongside lead judge Brian Henson. [Syfy via press release]


... Alan Alda will appear on The Blacklist as Crowley, the king of hell a man from Red's mysterious past. [Zap2It]

... Maria Menounos will once again be playing a fictional version of herself on The Mindy Project. During this year's holiday episode, she'll find herself the object of Peter's (Adam Pally) desire. [TV Line]

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