HBO to air series on human sexuality

April 11, 2013

Ryan Murphy’s next TV series will be about human sexuality, and it’ll run on HBO.

The guy behind FX’s plastic-surgery soap “Nip/Tuck,” Fox’s high-school musical dramedy “Glee,” FX’s anthology “American Horror Story” and NBC’s gay-couple comedy “The New Normal” got a pilot order for “Open.”

It’s described as a “modern, provocative exploration of human sexuality and relationships” by the Web site Deadline, which got the exclusive on the news.

Exploring human sexuality and relationships modernly and provocatively will be a married couple in their 30s, a co-worker of the husband’s who is of indeterminate age, and a 40-something female who is — you know it’s coming — a yoga instructor (a.k.a. limber”).

“This is really an adult show that is very frank in its depiction of sex,” Murphy told Deadline.

Gary Newman, chairman at 20th Century Fox TV, where the show is being produced, hastened to explain that the depiction of sex never feels gratuitous.

“Why not?” we’d have liked to have asked.

“It’s pay cable!” we’d have complained.

On the bright side, Newman insisted that the sex on the show “feels organic to the subject matter.”

The subject matter being “sex.”

Lauer goes for laughs

NBC News’s beleaguered “Today” show and its star Matt Lauer this week began the third stage on the road to ratings recovery. And that stage is:

Comedy.

“ [I’m] a bit surprised to be asked to host this dinner. . . . These days, I only get asked to host dinners if polio is busy — yup, I have a lower ‘Q’ rating than polio right now,” Lauer joked this week, hosting a rubber-chicken dinner honoring Bloomberg Media Group chief executive Andrew Lack.

As he introduced presenter Katie Couric, Lauer said: “Who can forget when she was co-host of the ‘Today’ show? She got a colonoscopy on TV. Not to be outdone, two weeks ago, I got one in the New York Times.”

In case you have been too busy to notice: More than a year ago, Ann Curry became Lauer’s co-host. In her first year, the show attracted less viewership than ABC’s “Good Morning America,” ending “Today’s” 16-year-plus winning ratings streak.

So “Today” began its recovery trek.

First stage: Toss female on-air talent into volcano.

“I’m going to have to tell our viewers. . . . I don’t want to leave them. I love them,” Curry wailed — the day before she was tossed — to USA Today.

“They’re giving me some fancy new titles,” Curry wailed some more the next day, as she was being tossed.

Lauer tried to kiss her on the cheek. She jerked away her cheek; Lauer broke out in an eczema of The Guy to Blame.

Second stage: Stout denial.

Lauer gave an interview to the Daily Beast’s Howard Kurtz, saying that he was totally broken up about the whole thing, and that he kept telling NBC it should do away with Curry slowly (one limb at a time, maybe?), only those dim bulbs at NBC did not listen to him, botched the whole thing and now he’s paying the price for the network’s dumb cluckery.

Last week — the one before Lauer began employing Comedy — ABC News’s “Good Morning America” again beat “Today” in the ratings.

It was “GMA’s” ninth consecutive week in first place. The ABC show led “Today” by 702,000 viewers, as well as 63,000 viewers between ages 25 and 54 — the currency of news-programming ad sales.

In so doing, “GMA” has ranked No. 1 every week in overall audience for more than eight months. In the age bracket, “GMA” has ranked No. 1 for 26 of the past 31 weeks.

NBC News, however, noted that during the past four weeks — since the start of daylight saving time — “Today” has narrowed the gap in the age bracket by 71 percent vs. the previous four weeks.

Those four weeks prior to the start of daylight saving time were “sweeps” weeks, and “GMA” really poured on the ratings-attracting stunts, including Oscar-related segments (ABC broadcasts the Academy Awards annually); the announcement of the next celebrity cast of “Dancing With the Stars”; and, most notably, the return of co-anchor Robin Roberts after her dramatic medical leave.

Both morning shows’ ratings fell after the sweeps, which is never surprising.

“GMA’s” just fell more than “Today’s.”

“GMA” still wins.

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