TIME Television

Brienne is the Name of 4 Girls Born in the U.K. in 2014

Gwendoline Christie as Brienne of Tarth in 'Game of Thrones'
Helen Sloan—HBO

Khaleesi and Arya are more popular

Brienne is the U.K.’s newest entry to Game of Thrones-inspired baby names for females in 2014, according to data from the U.K. Office for National Statistics.

Last year, four girls were named Brienne, after Brienne of Tarth from the cult HBO television program. The Starks are the most popular Game of Thrones girls names: with 244 named Arya and 6 girls named Sansa.

The data also revealed that 53 girls were named Khaleesi –the royal title Daenerys Targaryen takes when she marries Khal Drogo. Nine girls were named Daenerys in 2014.

TIME Television

John Oliver Becomes a Televangelist and Finally Starts His Own Church

The satirical aim of Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption will be to collect copious, tax-exempt donations

John Oliver is officially a church.

Upon finding out about mega-churches like those led by Kenneth Copeland and Robert Tilton, which earn millions of dollars every year but are exempt from paying taxes, Last Week Tonight host John Oliver did the only logical thing—he formed his own church. Specifically, he formed, Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption.

With a little help from Sister Wanda Jo Oliver, played by former Saturday Night Live star Rachel Dratch, Oliver’s church will collect copious donations while encouraging congregants to silently meditate on the nature of fraudulent churches.

To aid his followers in making their donations, Oliver delivered his ministrations right through the TV screen asking viewers with lupus to lay their hands on their television and pray with him—and then donate to his church.

The church looks to be completely real with services held every Sunday at 11pm on HBO and, naturally, donation boxes always open.

Those who choose to donate to Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption should be sure to read the fine print, though, which says that the church “may choose to wind down and dissolve in the near future. Upon dissolution, any assets belonging to the Church at that time will be distributed to Doctors Without Borders, a non-profit charitable organization that is tax-exempt under § 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (EIN: 13-3433452) and which provides emergency medical aid in places where it is needed most.”

For more information, Pastor Oliver encouraged his most devout and devoted viewers to call a special number to hear a message for the masses:

Read next: Watch John Oliver Conscript Nick Offerman, Laverne Cox and Others For a Sex Ed Video

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TIME Television

Stephen Colbert Got 600 People to Participate in His Latest Promo

Stephen Colbert the late show
Richard Shotwell—Invision/AP Stephen Colbert participates in "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" segment of the CBS Summer TCA Tour at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Aug. 10, 2015, in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Stephen Colbert has been on a publicity blitz

Stephen Colbert has been doing everything from hanging out with Mitt Romney to appearing on public access television to promote next month’s launch of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

On Sunday, he rallied about 600 fans in New York’s Union Square for what is thought to be his latest promo. Based on social media accounts, the event featured Colbert speaking to the crowd over a megaphone from the back of a truck and the fans holding balloons in the air and cheering.

Colbert’s Late Show will premiere on Sept. 8. Jeb Bush and George Clooney will be his first guests.

TIME Television

Kevin Spacey Got Stuffed Into a Phone Booth With Some Surprise Guests on The Tonight Show

If you’re claustrophobic then Jimmy Fallon’s new Tonight Show segment may not be for you. On Friday night, Fallon and House of Cards star Kevin Spacey played “Phone Booth,” a trivia game played inside a pair of phone booths. If the contestant answers incorrectly – or their opponent gets a question right – another person is added to the opposing player’s booth.

Needless to say, things didn’t go well for Spacey at first. The initial few rounds found Keegan-Michael Key from Key and Peele, 6-foot-11 NBA Draft pick Karl-Anthony Towns, and actress Mae Whitman turning Spacey’s booth into a glass case of emotion. Said Spacey upon answering the phone to play in a later round: “Yes, most ridiculous sketch ever.”

But fortunately, the tide turned – and not a moment too soon, since Fallon even had Big Bird waiting in the wings to join the fun.

This article originally appeared on EW.com

TIME Television

Thomas the Tank Engine Amusement Park Opens in Massachusetts

Visitors can ride on their favorite characters from the show

Thomas the Tank Engine is rolling into an amusement park this weekend. The first Thomas the Tank Engine theme park in the U.S., Thomas Land, opened in Saturday in Massachusetts.

The park has 11 rides based on the TV show. Visitors can hop on Harold the Helicopter, enjoy a tower drop on Cranky Crane or take a 20-minute train ride on Thomas.

Thomas Land is already in the U.K. and Japan, where each park draws millions of visitors per year.

TIME Television

What I Learned Watching 16 Years of Television for TIME

The cast of 'Freaks and Geeks' on Aug. 5, 1999.
Chris Haston—NBC/Getty Images Class of '99: The cast of Freaks and Geeks, one of the first series I reviewed for TIME.

After a decade and a half, this is my series finale. Here’s a look back at a period that changed TV and changed me.

Almost a decade ago, in September 2005, my editors approached me with the idea of starting a fall-TV-review blog. The name would be Tuned In, because TV. (We did not spend a lot of time thinking about the name.) It would be temporary, like a pop-up store at the mall; I’d review the new fall series, then we’d close it down. My first post reviewed Martha, the post-prison talk show starring Martha Stewart. My last–well, it turned out I loved blogging, and I found more and more things to write about, and that last post never came.

Until now.

This is my last post for TIME, my series finale, give or take. (I have one more big piece coming out in the print magazine later this month. Look for it on the newsstand! Buy it! Take it to the beach!) Starting September 8, I’m moving to the New York Times as its chief TV critic. I’m not retiring or disappearing, so it would be silly to write a goodbye. But it also seemed wrong to leave without a thank you, both to TIME for letting me write here all these years and to everyone who read me here.

I already had plenty to do at TIME before Tuned In. I visited the sets of Freaks and Geeks (my first set visit ever and a good place to start) and The Sopranos (more than once). I wrote about pop culture responding to the 9/11 attacks and argued, at the height of Joe Millionaire’s infamy, that reality TV was actually good for us. But reviewing TV in print for a weekly newsmagazine, with limited space for the culture section, was often like being a farmer paid not to grow corn.

Online, I could cover TV in close to real time, the way viewers experience it. I could do quick takes and long essays, reviews and recaps. I could deep-read Mad Men and obsess over the fine points of Game of Thrones. (One thing the Internet did for TV criticism was to make it less about previewing shows the audience hadn’t seen and more about reviewing shows they had–which allowed you to go into more depth and detail.) I could be mortified in song by Rosie O’Donnell and write about it. I could indulge my obscure interests. I could write about the experience of watching TV: about the way DVRs are an attempt to cheat death, or about bonding with my kids over reality TV. I could bang the drum for great series like Enlightened that deserved more attention. I could blog about news coverage of elections, the business of media, the digital culture wars. It was like running a small, personal magazine within the magazine.

But there was always more I could have done, because there was suddenly so freaking much TV. Since 1999–the year TIME hired me–the number of scripted series on cable has increased 1000%, and no, I did not add an extra zero there. Since 2009 alone, according to FX research, we went from 211 scripted TV series to 371 last year, and we’re on track for over 400 this year. (And that’s before you add in reality, news, sports, and anything else.)

When I told people about my new job with TIME, sympathy was not an uncommon reaction: “You must have to watch so much terrible TV!” That urban legend, the “I don’t even own a television” guy, was real and in abundance at parties. Not many people thought TV was worth engaged criticism. TV, as Intelligent People of Quality saw it, was occasionally good, almost by accident; otherwise, at best it was mindless escapism, of mainly anthropological interest for understanding Joe Q. Walmart.

Tony Soprano kicked that idea in the stugots, with help from Buffy Summers and Vic Mackey and the Bluth family. Jon Stewart took over The Daily Show right around The Sopranos’ launch, saving the political relevance of late-night talk from the Dancing Itos. TV became more serial and narratively ambitious; a 1970s camp classic like Battlestar Galactica could come back as a post-9/11 story of terror, faith and survival. AMC–a classic-movies network, so basically TV for people who didn’t like TV–launched Mad Men. Nearly every channel needed at least one signature series, and then nearly every online service did. That “I don’t own a television” guy? He bought one, or at least a computer, and was now at parties asking me what he should binge next.

Having too much material in a great job is a high-class problem. But it does mean, as a simple practical matter, that even a critic paid to watch TV can’t watch every episode of everything, any more than you can. Once a film critic sees a movie or a music critic hears an album, it’s done: there are not 13 more hours of Age of Ultron coming out. TV, God bless it, never ends.

Which means that for TV critics above all, a dialogue with readers is essential. As a critic, you’re a generalist, sampling widely and drawing connections across a broad medium. But you will never know as much about any particular show as its dedicated fans do. I rely on you, in the comments and in social media, to be my eyes and ears–not just to let me know when I made a typo or wrote something stupid, but to let me know what I’m missing. (And doing this job means accepting that you will always miss a lot.)

You delivered, whether it was in the blog comments–as I liked to call them, “Tuned Inland”–or on Twitter. At TIME, I was lucky to have readers who believed in taking ridiculous entertainment seriously and having a sense of humor about the serious stuff, who had fun with TV but believed it really mattered. And that dialogue matters too. I’ve never accepted the simplistic idea that TV dictates morality or brainwashes us politically–like all powerful art’s, its influence isn’t easily predictable, and our relationship with it is complicated and two-way. It reflects as much as it directs; we make it at least as much as it makes us.

All of which is why I think TV is as revealing a subject as any in the world to write about–and why the conversation around TV is at least as important as the reviews critics write. Recently at Vox, Todd Van der Werff wrote about how “the Internet of 2005”–the year I started Tuned In–has disappeared. What he meant, correctly, is that digital journalism has moved from a blog model, where you assumed a steady readership that would visit a site and its comments regularly, to a social-web model, where most readers come to your articles through links–and most of the conversation has moved from comments sections to social feeds.

That’s been true here, too. Tuned In hasn’t really existed as a distinct blog for a few years, since it was folded in to TIME’s Entertainment vertical, and we (with much of the media) stopped using the term “blog.” The past few years–with the explosion of recaps and cultural hot takes online–I’ve been trying to do fewer recaps and quick hits, publishing less but spending more time on each piece.

But the conversation has gone on, and it’ll keep going. After Labor Day, you can find me at the New York Times, writing about much the same things I have been here–and you can find me, always, as usual, on Twitter @poniewozik. In the words of Desmond Hume, see you in another life, brothers and sisters–and thank you all for keeping me tuned in.

TIME Television

It’s Not Easy Making Green: Why the Sesame Street Deal Hurts Parents More Than Kids

For kids, it just means more Big Bird. For parents, it means a preview of inequalities to come.

For over 45 years, Sesame Street has been teaching America’s kids about numbers and feelings. The deal that its producer, Sesame Workshop, struck on Thursday to move the beloved children’s series to HBO is an education in both.

On the numbers, the deal is probably better than any likely alternative. Thanks to that HBO cash, Sesame Street will be able to produce nearly twice as many episodes in a production schedule that had long been shrinking, and will develop new series for kids as well. Episodes and archives will still be available on PBS, which will have more money free for other programming.

The hitch: new episodes won’t be available on free PBS for nine months. Sesame Street’s target young audience is not likely to notice. Preschoolers, even more so than the rest of us, increasingly get their TV by streaming it, and as most parents can attest, they are not exactly averse to seeing the same thing over and over. The kids who watch the show on live TV will probably not mind that the droll parodies of adult cable shows are dated, nor are they likely to miss out on new developments in the alphabet.

As for the funding problems that drove Sesame to the deal, it’s not quite as simple as “the government cut their money.” Sesame Workshop’s revenues have cratered not because of politics but because their commercial revenue streams, especially DVD sales, are evaporating.

Yes, if we had the lavishly supported BBC-style system that the U.S. never had, PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting might have been able to step in and feather Big Bird’s nest. But even then, there’s long been debate over whether public broadcasting should spend limited funds on popular shows like Sesame Street–which at least have the option of striking deals–as opposed to programming that can’t, like documentaries, or supporting local stations in remote and low-income areas. For decades, the producers have made the kind of deals that led Ralph Nader to call Sesame Street a sell-out. Licensing, sponsorships, rerun sales: there has long been commerce transacted on Sesame Street, and not just in Mr. Hooper’s Store.

But as Sesame Street has taught for so long, feelings matter too. And however well the decision works practically, in principle it feels gross.

Sesame Workshop and HBO are doing the right thing by finding a way to keep a valuable institution vital. But they could not have come up with a more symbolically freighted announcement if they had cut a secret pact to foment the revolution. Here was something for our kids, all our kids–not just any kids’ show, but the kids’ show, created to give a head start to the kids who needed it the most, advantaged or not, and that was proven to work. It was for everyone, created in a late ‘60s spirit of public weal and social equity. And now it was being sold, not just to commercial television, but to hypercommercial television, a gold-plated premium channel that requires either cable or broadband and then a subscription fee on top of that.

Like most controversies in children’s television, this one is really about the parents, about our ideals for childhood and how we fall short of them, about our anxiety in preparing our kids for the world. Kids are just going to enjoy more Sesame Street. It’s parents who see this change and know that their children are being introduced, before they can even read, to a world that is tiered, tracked and sold on an a la carte basis.

The Sesame Street is, practically, a good deal. But it is a deal nonetheless, over something that was once a given. It’s one more replacement of a public trust with a public-private arrangement, like a luxury developer given rights and tax breaks to build condos, in exchange for a certain percentage of affordable housing. It’s a deteriorating postal service vs. FedEx, the bus vs. Uber. Everyone still gets to visit Big Bird. Some people just have to use the poor door.

It’s not about Sesame Street per se. It’s about the disappearing idea that there are certain baseline goods that should belong to all of us. It’s about knowing that this is just the first of many inflection points where your child will get a benefit if you have the money, and if not, not: quality daycare, a house in a good school district, tutoring, test prep. It’s about generational advantages that in turn allow some future adults to pass on greater advantage. The kids, squatting in front of the tube or curled up with a tablet screen, won’t know or care. Parents will, because they know about what’s to come.

Parents will know that, for another five years at least, someone will be there to tell their kids how to get to Sesame Street. But now the answer will be that–as with more and more things in life today–you’ll get there a lot faster if you’re born on third base.

Read next: This Is Why HBO Really Wants Sesame Street

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TIME Television

Khloe Kardashian Tells Caitlyn Jenner Not to Bad-Mouth Her Mom

The two have a confrontation in a new promo for I am Cait

It’s been two months since Caitlyn Jenner debuted on the cover of Vanity Fair, but now, viewers of her E! show I Am Cait can watch how her family dealt with the aftermath of the magazine story.

In a new promo for the reality show, Khloe Kardashian and Caitlyn Jenner face off about comments in the article about Kris Jenner, Khloe’s mom and Caitlyn’s ex-wife.

“We really haven’t had a chance to sit down and talk after you sent me those really kind of tough texts,” Jenner says at the beginning of the promo. Kardashian explains that she and sister Kim agreed they were not tough and though she said she “didn’t care” about Jenner’s transition, she meant that that wasn’t the thing that was bothering her.

Though the sisters support their step-father’s transition, Kardashian says, “We don’t think that that entails you speaking negatively about my mom. In our opinion, you don’t need to even mention our mom. Let’s focus on the actual cause here, and let’s not drag my mom through the mud. I would think you would come from a place of more compassion. Especially when you have two young daughters who are greatly affected by it.” (Jenner and Kris Kardashian have two teenage daughters together, Kendall and Kylie.)

“And then when you tried to tell me that I don’t know what I’m talking about…” Kardashian started, but Jenner cut her off: “Because you don’t know. You don’t know.”

Watch the rest of the clip above, and to find out how the confrontation ended, catch the next episode on Sunday at 8 p.m. EST.

Read next: Caitlyn Jenner’s Television Show Loses Half Its Audience

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TIME Television

Rihanna Will Be Joining The Voice

2015 BET Awards - Show
Christopher Polk/BET—Getty Images for BET Recording artist Rihanna attends the 2015 BET Awards at the Microsoft Theater on June 28, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.

She'll be working as an advisor

The Voice just got a big boost. Rihanna will join the NBC show as a key advisor for season 9, NBC Chairman Bob Greenblatt announced at the TCA press tour Thursday.

“We landed Rihanna to be the key advisor to all the coaches this fall,” Greenblatt told reporters. “This is one of music’s true supervisors coming on board to influence the lives and careers of the performers.”

The network had previously announced that Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams would return for another season, and longtime coaches Blake Shelton and Adam Levine will be back as well. Brad Paisley will serve as an advisor to Shelton, and Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman John Fogerty will be Levine’s advisor, People reported this week.

The Voice season 9 bows Sept. 21 at 8 p.m. ET.

This article originally appeared on EW.com

TIME Television

NBC Puts Celebrity Apprentice on Hold to Look for New Host

Donald Trump in Celebrity Apprentice All-Star
Desiree Navarro—WireImage/Getty Images Brande Roderick, Donald Trump Jr.,Donald Trump, Gary Busey and Eric Trump attend the Celebrity Apprentice All Stars Season 13 Press Conference on October 12, 2012 in New York City.

After cutting ties with Donald Trump

NBC won’t make a new Celebrity Apprentice anytime soon.

The network announced Thursday morning that competition series was being put on hiatus this coming season while they hunt for a new host.

In June, NBC cut business ties with host and executive producer Donald Trump after his comments about Mexican immigrants.

“Due to circumstances that everyone here is aware of regarding our host—I should say former host,” said NBC entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt. “We will not be producing a new edition of the show this season, but it will be back for the 2016-17 season with a new host. We’ve actually been overwhelmed by a number of really exciting people who have come forward and are interested in taking over the show. You’ve heard some names bandied about. Some of them are simply not true, but I also don’t want ot speculate on any specifics today because we haven’t gotten that far into the process. As soon as we settle on someone, we’ll get the word out, and something tells me that will be big news.”

As for relations with Trump moving forward, Greenblatt aded, “I don’t think somebody who is running for president and might possibly be the next leader of the free world could be banned from any activities at NBC, but we’ll have to see how this plays out.”

This article originally appeared on EW.com

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