Because Kaitlin was off saving orphaned kittens in impoverished slums and I was too lazy to get out of bed, we didn't get to all the newsy items that happened over our holiday break. And maybe you spent too many hours doing the backstroke in your eggnog swimming pool and weren't as hardwired as usual to the TV news cycle. So in this special edition of News Briefs, we'll all play catch up on all the important things we missed. Let's go!
THE SOUND OF DUCK CALLS IS ALSO THE SOUND OF CASH REGISTERS
... Before we took off to worship the almighty Christmas tree, A&E's reality megahit Duck Dynasty was in a whole heap of trouble. Phil Robertson, the bearded one LOL, said in an interview with GQ that homosexuality was terrible and A&E didn't know exactly what to do because you aren't supposed to say things like that and the network would look like supporters of hate if it let Phil go unpunished. So A&E suspended Phil from the show. But then the rest of the Robertsons were like, "F to the U, if Phil is out then we're all out!" So of course A&E stuck by their guns and the show was canceled. Except that didn't happen at all, because on December 27, A&E said, "My bad," and reinstated Phil so that the hit series could continue. That was savvy business by A&E, which used the cover of the holidays to get itself out of a crummy situation with as little press as possible. It brings up the idea of the reality star double standard: We want these people to be as "real" as possible for our entertainment, but lose our minds when they say something controversial that we knew was part of the persona we wanted to watch in the first place but were too scared to admit it. A redneck hunting fanatic who lives in the woods and eats frogs? It would have been more surprising if he didn't have a problem with homosexuality. And once the argument of Phil's supporters went from "Free speech!" to "Freedom of religion!" Phil's reinstatement was all but locked up. [TV Line]
BUT CAN HE PASS IT BACK TO THE ANCHORS?
... Polarizing football person Tim Tebow finally found a team that wants him! The "quarterback" and former Heisman Trophy winner will now play for... the SEC Network. Tebow, who is still actively looking to join an active NFL roster, will serve as a college football analyst for ESPN and the soon-to-launch SEC Network. [THR]
SALLADHOR SAAN WOULD BE PROUD
... Congratulations, Game of Thrones! You were the most pirated show of 2013, according to illegal-download experts Torrent Freak. The HBO drama's Season 3 finale was stolen 5.9 million times, making it the clear-cut winner (about 5.4 million viewers watched the episode the old-fashioned way in its first run on HBO). Breaking Bad finished in second place, The Walking Dead was third, and rounding out the top 10 were, in order, The Big Bang Theory, Dexter, How I Met Your Mother, Suits, Homeland, Vikings, and Arrow. TV.com does not condone illegal downloading except in the cases where no one would find out. [Torrent Freak]
GOODBYE, UNCLE PHIL
... This is sad. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air actor James Avery passed away on New Year's Eve following complications from open-heart surgery. Avery, who was 68 years old, played the lovable disciplinarian Uncle Phil, father to Carlton and uncle to Will. As a child raised by television, Avery was an on-screen father figure to me who did it right. [CNN]
LUKE GRIMES IS MORE OF AN ARTIST THAN I WILL EVER BE
... Actor Luke Grimes has abandoned the best role in all of television over creative differences and what I might call a brainfart. Grimes joined True Blood's sixth season as James, a vampire who got to romance and get busy with Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll, hence the "best role in all of television"). But after reading some Season 7 scripts and seeing where James is headed, Grimes decided to bounce. The role is currently being recast and I would like to volunteer myself if it involves being within 50 yards of Jessica Hamby. [TV Line]