Morning Media Newsfeed: Sony Probes North Korea Link to Hack | Ex-CBC Host Charged

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Sony Pictures Investigates North Korea Link in Hack (Re/code)
Sony Pictures Entertainment is exploring the possibility that hackers working on behalf of North Korea, perhaps operating out of China, may be behind a devastating attack that brought the studio’s network to a screeching halt last week, sources familiar with the matter said. Mashable The thinking is that the hack may be in response to Sony’s upcoming film, The Interview, which is premised on a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The comedy, which is set to be released on Christmas Day, stars Seth Rogen and James Franco who play entertainment journalists recruited by the CIA to kill Kim after it comes out the two men are planning an interview with the North Korean leader. THR North Korea has been vociferous in its complaints about the film and even called the movie an “act of war” in a letter to the United Nations. This isn’t the first time North Korea has also threatened retaliation for something that it didn’t like or felt was insulting. In July, a Chinese viral video led to Pyongyang demanding the video be taken down and action taken against the makers. And in September, North Korea slammed the makers of the documentary Opposite Number and called on the U.K. to punish those behind that project. NYT One person with knowledge of the situation said a Hollywood executive from a company other than Sony had contacted Homeland Security to suggest that the attack might be related to a piracy investigation involving a movie that was not even made by Sony. But the department was not mobilized as a result of the query. The attack apparently did not use sophisticated techniques that might be expected from a hostile government. Rather, it employed a common form of so-called ransomware, according to a security researcher with knowledge of the breach, who did not have permission to speak publicly about the findings. Variety At least five new movies from Sony Pictures are being devoured on copyright-infringing file-sharing hubs online in the wake of the hack attack. Copies of DVD screeners of four unreleased Sony movies including the upcoming Annie are getting some unwelcome early exposure, but nothing compared with the frenzy enveloping Fury, the war pic still in theaters that bowed in October.

Ex-CBC Host Jian Ghomeshi Charged With Sexual Assault (CBC News)
Former CBC Radio host Jian Ghomeshi was released on $100,000 bail Wednesday following a court appearance in Toronto to face five criminal charges. He is accused of sexual assault and choking. He pled not guilty. Toronto Star Presiding justice Rebecca Rutherford ordered Ghomeshi to remain in Ontario upon his release on bail, and to surrender his passport. He was also ordered to live with his mother and not contact any of his accusers. Ghomeshi, who hosted the popular radio show Q since 2007, was fired by the CBC on Oct. 26. Mediaite The charges come a day after the host dropped a $55 million wrongful termination lawsuit against his former employer, reaching a settlement agreement with the CBC in which he agreed to pay their $18,000 legal fees. HuffPost Allegations about Ghomeshi’s sexual misconduct first began to surface in October after three women came forward saying they had been sexually assaulted by the radio host. Ghomeshi has previously denied the allegations, stating that sexual activity with the women had been consensual.

TV Ratings: Football, Fanfare Drive NBC’s Thanksgiving (THR / The Live Feed)
Most of Thanksgiving’s marquee TV events were in line with last year’s in the Thursday ratings race, and NBC reaped some of the biggest benefits. After a morning that saw a particularly strong Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade — down just a shade from 2013’s records, it averaged a 6.2 rating with adults 18-49 and 22.6 million viewers — NBC led primetime with the NFL. Deadline The 2013 Parade pulled in 25.2 million viewers, the best the event has done in fast official ratings since 1987. The previous high viewership-wise was 2001’s 23.1 million. In fast officials this year’s parade got a 6.2 rating among adults 18-49, which was down 6 percent from 2013’s 6.6 results. Deadline In its third primetime Thanksgiving game, NBC got a 5.8/20 rating among adults 18-49 with 17.73 million viewers. With just a slight 3 percent decline, that’s pretty steady with the fast nationals of last year’s primetime NFL Thanksgiving Day match-up that got a 6.0/19 and 18.61 million. THR / The Live Feed On Wednesday, ABC’s annual airing of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving pulled a 2.1 rating with adults 18-49 as well. That’s up 31 percent from last year’s Thanksgiving day telecast.

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Matt Lauer Speaks With Ray Rice, Janay Rice (TVNewser)
The Today show’s Matt Lauer interviewed former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and his wife Janay Rice. Rice had his indefinite NFL suspension overturned Friday. THR The interview will air in two parts on Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 1 and 2, NBC announced on Friday. The interview comes more than two months after a video emerged of Rice knocking out his then-fiancée in a casino elevator. Although Janay told her side of the story to ESPN’s Jemele Hill, with the sports network’s website posting her account of what happened that night online on Friday, the Today sit-down marks the NFL player’s first interview about the incident and the couple’s first account, together, of their story. Variety The video sparked national outrage, leading to his termination from the Ravens and suspension from the NFL. The incident put a spotlight on the NFL and how it handles domestic violence, focusing in particular on commissioner Roger Goodell. The NFL is currently revising its personal conduct policy.

Frank Yablans, Paramount Executive in Fertile ’70s, Dies at 79 (NYT)
Frank Yablans, a blunt-spoken filmmaker and studio executive who oversaw the release of the first two Godfather films while president of Paramount Pictures and later was both a producer and a writer of Mommie Dearest and North Dallas Forty, died on Thursday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 79. THR A native New Yorker and son of a taxi driver, Yablans worked at Warner Bros. and Disney before being named executive VP sales at Paramount in the late 1960s. His marketing flair helped turn Arthur Hiller’s tragic romantic drama Love Story into a blockbuster and led to him being named studio president in 1971 at age 31.

CNN Wins Every Hour Tuesday in Demo (TVNewser)
On the day after the night of violence in Ferguson, Mo., CNN secured a very rare ratings win in the adults 25-54 demo. CNN won every hour of the day in the demo, and also came in first in total viewers during several hours: at 5 a.m., from noon-2 p.m. and from 11 p.m.-1 a.m. Fox News came in first in total viewers for the rest of the day. Mediaite Overall, CNN averaged 862,000 viewers in the demo during primetime, while Fox had 718,000. MSNBC was third with 236,000 in the demo. In total viewers, Fox was still on top with 2.984 million compared to CNN’s 1.639 million in primetime. However, when CNN peaked in viewers during the 11 p.m. hour with 1.822 million, the network once again beat Fox, which had 1.677 million. Variety Overall primetime viewership subsided Tuesday, as Fox News, CNN, MSNBC and HLN combined to average about 5.6 million viewers — less than half the 12.8 million that tuned in on average from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Monday when the Grand Jury announcement was made.

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Honoring Small Business, Obamas Go Book Shopping (TVNewser)
The First Family took part in Small Business Saturday by heading out to Washington, D.C. bookstore Politics and Prose. NYT Obama spotted a new book behind the register, The Stranger: Barack Obama in The White House, by Chuck Todd, host of NBC’s Meet The Press. The president noted that he looked “lonely” on the cover, and Malia asked, “How is he already writing a book?” With a smile, Malia added that her father looked sad on the cover. “Looks like a sad book,” she said teasingly, in a typical family exchange not often seen from the Obamas in public.

Russian Parliament Won’t Consider Restrictions on Hollywood Films (THR)
The State Duma, the lower chamber of Russian Parliament, won’t consider legislation introducing restrictions on Hollywood releases in Russia. The moves came just days after President Vladimir Putin spoke against the idea of restrictions on Hollywood fare. Variety The Motion Picture Assn. of America, which represents the interests of the Hollywood studios, has welcomed Putin’s opposition to the introduction of movie quotas as Russia lawmakers shelved the plan Thursday. Members of Russia’s lower house of parliament, the Duma, had been due to debate a bill that would have imposed a 50 percent limit on foreign films, but lawmakers have decided to park the proposal.

BBC Targets $630 Million in Further Cost Cuts (THR)
The BBC plans to cut its annual costs by another $630 million (£400 million) in the next two years to bring overall savings per year to $2.36 billion (£1.50 billion) by fiscal year 2016-2017, according to a new report it published on Thursday. Variety The saving will be in addition to the $1.73 billion (£1.1 billion) a year the BBC has already sliced from its costs. The previous cuts resulted in a decision to take youth TV channel BBC Three off air and move it online. The latest savings could lead to a similar fate being inflicted on high-brow channel BBC Four, but the BBC’s director of strategy, James Purnell, would not confirm this when interviewed on the BBC’s news show Today.

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RIP Lester Bernstein (FishbowlNY)
New York Times investigative reporter Nina Bernstein announced that her father Lester Bernstein has passed away at age 94, eight days after the death of his wife Mimi, Nina’s mother. The span of Lester’s esteemed journalism career was writ large, encompassing stints as editor of Newsweek, European correspondent for Time and vice president at NBC, where he helped organize the first televised U.S. Presidential debates.

The Weather Channel Brings Back Three Original Programs (TVNewser)
The Weather Channel has announced that three original primetime series will be returning. The third season of Prospectors premieres on Dec. 7 at 9 p.m. ET, followed by the third-season debut of Highway Thru Hell. The second season of Why Planes Crash premieres on Dec. 15 at 9 p.m. ET.

Serial Podcast Announces Second Season (Capital)
The popular true-crime podcast Serial will be returning for a second season, its staff said. Serial — created by the producers of the public radio powerhouse This American Life and hosted by reporter Sarah Koenig — has been downloaded or streamed on iTunes more than five million times.

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Sabrina Rubin Erdely, Woman Behind Rolling Stone’s Explosive U-Va. Alleged Rape Story (The Washington Post / Style)
Magazine writer Sabrina Rubin Erdely knew she wanted to write about sexual assaults at an elite university. What she didn’t know was which university. So, for six weeks starting in June, Erdely interviewed students from across the country. She talked to people at Harvard, Yale, Princeton and her alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania. None of those schools felt quite right. But one did: the University of Virginia, a public school, Southern and genteel, brimming with what Erdely calls “super-smart kids” and steeped in the legacy of its founder, Thomas Jefferson. What Erdely eventually found in Charlottesville shocked her, and it eventually shocked the nation.

Bill Cosby Gave Interview to Keep Charges Secret (NYT)
Bill Cosby gave an exclusive interview to The National Enquirer in 2005 in exchange for a promise by the tabloid that it would drop a more damaging article about previously undisclosed sexual assault allegations, according to his testimony in a federal lawsuit.

Netflix’s New Shows (Probably) Find More Fans (Re/code)
Netflix doesn’t tell anyone how many people watch the shows it creates, or any other viewing data, but a poll from Centris Marketing Science estimates that more Netflix viewers (72 percent) say they watched the service’s original programming this fall compared to earlier this year (57 percent).

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