Social-Media Demand Puts Banks Back on ‘Top Model’s’ Catwalk

Tyra Banks is certainly in demand these days — she’s returning to star in revivals of two of her past starring projects.

Banks is returning to host VH1’s America’s Next Top Model this fall after sitting out the prior season of the long-running modeling competition show. She came back because fans lobbied for her return on social media, she said.

“When I walked away from America’s Next Top Model I felt it was time to leave things before they leave me,” she said of her departure after hosting the first 22 seasons of the show, which aired on The CW before its inaugural season on VH1 earlier this year.

“The fans were like, ‘That’s not happening’ — they were very vocal on social media, so I’m back,” added Banks, who also serves as ANTM’s executive producer.

She’s also resurrecting her role as a doll that comes to life at the wish of a young girl in a Freeform remake of the 2000 ABC original movie Life-size. The 2018 original movie, Life-size 2, has been in the works for five years, and her role as Eve will be a little more mature than the previous version.

“Freeform is not Disney Channel, so the doll needs to grow up and experience everything these girls watching Freeform are experiencing, so Eve will be edgier,” the supermodel and actress said.

Banks, who is hosting NBC’s America’s Got Talent this summer, also has felt fan love for a Life-size remake. “I cannot believe that there’s so much interest in Life-size ... I can’t believe that people still want to have it come back so badly. I think it’s going to be very successful.”

FCC Proposal Lights Rocket Under Net-Neutrality Docket(s)

The Federal Communications Commission now has two net-neutrality dockets, and both have caught fire in recent days.

The “Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet” docket (No. 14-28) is left over from the last battle over Open Internet rules.

New to the list is one carrying chairman Ajit Pai’s branding of “Restoring Internet Freedom,” (docket No. 17-108), which is his just-announced proposal to reverse the Title II classification of ISPs and the FCC’s case-by-case regulation of internet conduct and regulation of interconnections under the 2015 Open Internet order.

They are now the top two dockets in terms of filings in the past 30 days, according to the FCC’s website. Together, they have more than 40 times more comments over that time than the rest of the top 10 busiest dockets combined, according to the FCC website.

Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet had been languishing with only 69 comments in the last 30 days when The Wire checked last week (it is a rolling total). It suddenly came to life with 8,231 as of press time May 4, though, rising to the No. 2 slot on the list of top-10 busiest dockets. But Restoring Internet Freedom is the winner by a mile, with 30,287 comments (at press time) since the new docket was opened on April 27.

Congressional Democrats opposed to Pai’s plan have vowed to fill the net-neutrality docket (now dockets) with millions of comments. They appear to be off to a solid start.
— John Eggerton

Pro-Title II Protest Takes to the Streets

Fight for the Future, which will be among those leading the fight against rolling back classification of broadband service under Title II of the Communications Act and Congress’s repeal of the associated broadband privacy regulations, has taken its protest to the streets, literally.

The nonprofit’s high-profile pushback against Republican legislators spearheading the privacy regulation repeal now extends to crowdfunded billboards going up in the districts of a few key players. Targets include House Communications subcommittee chair Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), who pushed for the Congressional Review Act resolution in the House, and Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.).

Fight for the Future organized the “Occupy the FCC” protest campout back in 2015 to push the FCC adopt the Title II approach, and signaled similar activism this time around to try to preserve it.
— John Eggerton

Sir Charles Has Lots of Opinions, No Time to Tweet

NBA on TNT analyst and former basketball star Charles Barkley has never been shy about voicing his opinions on a variety of issues. Yet the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer said he has no interest in expressing himself on social media.

Barkley told a media gathering on May 4 at The Paley Center for Media in New York about his upcoming TNT documentary series, American Race, that he has no plans to tweet any musings from himself or Instagram any photos anytime soon.

“I’ve never gone to social media because I think it gives people … the opportunity to voice their opinion on everything and everybody, so it gives people opportunity to be racist, sexist, homophobic,” he said. “Those are the negative points to social media.”

As for the four-episode show — a preview of which aired May 4 after TNT’s NBA playoffs telecast — Barkley told The Wire he’s not worried about critics who question why a likeable, former NBA star is taking on as serious an issue as racism in a series. (The show’s official premiere is May 11.)

“I don’t worry about critics who say, ‘Why is a basketball star doing a serious show?’ ” he said. “Those are the same fools who criticized [NBA hall of famer] Michael Jordan for not taking a stand. I’m just going to try to do good, and my critics can kiss my ass.”
— R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.