"Game of Thrones" Season 8 premieres, shatters ratings records
Four hours before the eighth and final season of "Game of Thrones" debuted on HBO at 9 p.m. on April 14, the latest episode of the fantasy-drama popped up on DirecTV Now — sending fans into a frenzy. (The following week, the second episode of Season 8 leaked early on Amazon Prime Video in Germany.) According to Entertainment Weekly, at least 17.4 million viewers tuned in for the show's big return — in spite of the leak — crushing the records for most-watched telecast in HBO history and most-watched scripted entertainment program of the year. ("The Big Bang Theory" previously held the record with 14.1 million viewers for the Feb. 7 episode of the CBS sitcom.)
"Jeopardy!" contestant crushes previous record for single-day winnings
On April 9, "Jeopardy!" contestant James Holzhauer broke the show's record for single-day cash winnings, banking $110,914 at the end of the episode. (Roger Craig previously held the record with $77,000 in single-day winnings back in September 2010.) A week later, James broke his own record by finishing the game with $131,127. He crossed the $1M mark for total winnings at the conclusion of his 14th straight win on April 23 and now ranks fourth for most consecutive wins.
"Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek gives health update as 35th season wraps
In other "Jeopardy!" news, host Alex Trebek marked the conclusion of Season 35 by releasing a video updating fans on his health as he deals with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. "Here, on the last day of taping for our 35th anniversary season, I wanted once again to thank you for your continuing messages of encouragement and support," he said in a clip tweeted by the official "Jeopardy!" Twitter account on April 17. "I've always tried to be straight with you, and I'm not going to stop now, so despite what you may have heard, I'm feeling good. I'm continuing with my therapy, and [we're] already working on our next season, the 36th year of 'Jeopardy!' So I look forward to seeing you once again in September with all kinds of good stuff." Alex revealed his cancer diagnosis in March.
"The Big Bang Theory" star Kaley Cuoco gets emotional over series' end: "It's real now"
Kaley Cuoco took to Instagram on April 8 to say that it's finally sinking in that the conclusion of "The Big Bang Theory" is fast approaching. "If it wasn't real before, it's real now 😭 @bigbangtheory_cbs #finalseason," she captioned a group photo with co-stars Kunal Nayyar, Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Mayim Bialik, Melissa Rauch and Simon Helberg. On April 18, she returned to Instagram to share another group photo with a sentimental caption: "TONIGHT don't miss an all new ep @bigbangtheory_cbs ! 💥 only a few curtain calls left!! Cue tears!!! #thefinalseason," she captioned the shot of herself and her castmates applauding during a curtain call following a taping of their show. She was at it again on April 24, posting several photos of her emotional reaction to the final table read for the CBS sitcom. "post table read for @bigbangtheory_cbs finale episode," she captioned a shot of herself crying.
Sara Gilbert announces she's leaving "The Talk" after nine years
Sara Gilbert announced on April 9 that she's leaving "The Talk," which she co-created, at the end of the current season. The former "Roseanne" star explained that she's been struggling to juggle her duties on the daytime talk show with her job starring on and executive producing "The Conners" and raising three young children. "Last season …. if I'm being honest about it, I think my life was slightly out of balance and I wasn't able to spend as much time with my three kids as I'd like or time for myself," she said, calling the decision "extremely difficult." She concluded by promising to occasionally return to the show as a guest host. On April 23, Netflix announce that Sara is joining the upcoming third season of "Atypical" as a university ethics professor — her first new gig since announcing that she's leaving "The Talk."
"Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "Everybody Loves Raymond" actress Georgia Engel dies at 70
TV and Broadway star Georgia Engel — who earned two Emmy nominations for her work as Georgette Baxter on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and three Emmy nominations for her work as Pat MacDougall on "Everybody Loves Raymond" — died at 70 in Princeton, New Jersey, on April 12. Her friend and executor, John Quilty, told The New York Times that her cause of death is unknown because the actress was a Christian Scientist and did not consult doctors when her health took a turn.
Meghan McCain and Joy Behar feud on "The View"
On the April 2 episode of "The View," Meghan McCain blew up at Joy Behar after the liberal writer-actress implied that she didn't understand the concept of "democratic socialism" while discussing Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg. Just a few days later, on the April 8 episode of "The View," they were at it again — this time over immigration policy. After the two women continually interrupted each other, Whoopi Goldberg stepped in to shut down the escalating tension. "Here's what's not gonna happen today: We're not gonna do this," she said. "Everybody gets a conversation piece. Everybody gets to say their piece. And we don't need to comment if we don't like what we're hearing. Just let folks talk."
Hoda Kotb receives special motherhood-themed surprise from Kathie Lee Gifford, adopts second child
On the April 1 episode of the "Today" show — at the end of their final "Favorite Things" segment as co-hosts before Kathie Lee Gifford bid adieu to the morning show on April 5 — the singer-actress brought longtime colleague Hoda Kotb to tears with a surprise gift: a portrait of Hoda cuddling her 2-year-old daughter, Haley Joy. Less than two weeks later, Hoda announced that she'd adopted her second child, daughter Hope Catherine, whom she's raising with boyfriend Joel Schiffman. Kathie Lee, meanwhile, has spent her first few weeks away from the "Today" show promoting "The God Who Sees," a 12-minute "modern oratorio" she directed in Israel. "I knew that was coming. I just didn't know when it was gonna happen," she told Fox News Channel's "The Five" of her former co-star's new addition.
Jenna Bush Hager makes "Today" debut, tears up over video messages from her parents, announces pregnancy
In other "Today" news, Jenna Bush Hager officially replaced Kathie Lee Gifford on the fourth hour of the NBC morning show on April 8. Her parents, President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush, surprised her by sending videos congratulating her on her new gig and wishing her luck. "Hey, Jenna, your old dad here on film to tell you how much I love and how proud I am of you. I know you'll do a fabulous job," said 43. Added his wife, "We're so proud of you!" The sweet messages of support left Jenna in tears. "Is this what's gonna happen? I'm just gonna cry all the time?" she asked co-host Hoda Kotb, adding that her father also texted her to say, "You go, girl. You got 'em, girl. I'm [a] very proud dad." Two weeks later, Jenna announced that she's pregnant with her third child — her first boy with husband Henry Hager.
"When Calls the Heart" renewed for Season 7 following Lori Loughlin firing
"When Calls the Heart" star Erin Krakow (left) announced on April 13 that the Hallmark Channel had renewed the series for a seventh season to debut in 2020. The drama has been on "a creative hiatus to do some retooling" on the current sixth season since mid-March, when the network cut ties with Lori Loughlin after she was formally charged for her involvement in a college admissions cheating scandal. On April 22, multiple media outlets reported that the "Full House" alum had been completely scrubbed from promotional items for Season 6 of "When Calls the Heart," which returns on May 5.
"Dallas" star Ken Kercheval dies at 83
Ken Kercheval — who starred as oil tycoon Cliff Barnes on the original "Dallas," as well as on the 2012 reboot — died at 83 on April 21. The Daily Clintonian, a newspaper in the actor's hometown of Clinton, Indiana, broke the news. A cause of death has not been revealed.
CBS employees reportedly fear network doesn't have money to keep Gayle King as contract negotiations drag on
Page Six reported on April 13 that because it's taken CBS so long to negotiate Gayle King's contract to stay on "CBS This Morning" for several years to come — a huge priority for the network — employees are now concerned that CBS doesn't have the funds to keep the star journalist. The New York Post's gossip column previously reported that Gayle is hoping to nearly triple her current yearly salary of $5.5 million. But as an insider told Page Six, "It's not like CBS News can all of a sudden find ABC or NBC money — it has to come from somewhere." The source added that despite buzz that the new president of CBS News has been given extra money for talent salaries, "there's not that much."
"CBS This Morning" co-host Bianna Golodryga to exit network
In other "CBS This Morning" news, co-host Bianna Golodryga "decided to leave" the show — which she just joined in October 2018 — as well as the network, CBS News announced in an April 3 statement. According to HuffPost, the new president of CBS News, Susan Zirinsky, hoped to keep Bianna at CBS after moving her off "This Morning," which she feels has too many anchors. But Bianna's contract stipulates that she's free to leave the network if she's not guaranteed a co-anchor role on the morning show.
"The Crown" casts Princess Diana
Newcomer Emma Corrin will portray Lady Diana Spencer on the upcoming fourth season of "The Crown," multiple media outlets reported on April 9. The third season of the Netflix drama is set to debut in late 2019. The English theater actress has yet to make her Hollywood debut.
Kevin Hunter out as executive producer of "The Wendy Williams Show"
Variety reported on April 18 that, according to a spokesperson for "The Wendy Williams Show," the hostess's estranged husband, Kevin Hunter, is no longer executive producing the daytime talk show in the wake of their split. Kevin had served as an EP since the show debuted in 2008. His name has since been scrubbed from the credits. Wendy filed for divorce on April 11 after nearly 23 years of marriage.
Cast shakeup for "Chicago P.D." and "Chicago Med"
Deadline reported on April 19 that "Chicago P.D." star John Seda — who debuted in the role of Antonio Dawson on "Chicago Fire" in 2012 — is saying goodbye to the "Chicago" franchise. (He also starred on 2017's "Chicago Justice.") Meanwhile, Colin Donnell (Dr. Connor Rhodes) and Norma Kuhling (Dr. Ava Bekker) are leaving "Chicago Med." According to Deadline, "the cast departures stem from creative reasons related to the characters' story evolution" and all three actors could potentially return to the franchise as guest stars.
British child star Mya-Lecia Naylor dies at 16
British child star Mya-Lecia Naylor — who acted on U.K. comedies "Millie Inbetween" and "Almost Never" — died at 16 on April 7, the BBC confirmed in an April 17 statement. Her cause of death is currently unknown. The singer-actress also appeared in 2012's "Cloud Atlas."
HBO confirms 2020 returns for "Westworld," "Insecure" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm"
"Westworld," "Insecure" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" won't be back until 2020, Variety reported on April 15 after checking in with HBO execs. The premium cable channel announced almost a year ago — in May 2018 — that the sci-fi Western will be back for a third season. The Issa Rae-created dramedy earned a Season 4 renewal in September, and "Curb" fans have been waiting for Season 10 since HBO announced more episodes in December 2017.
Bristol Palin announces she's done with "Teen Mom OG"
Bristol Palin took to Instagram on April 1 to announce that she won't be back for another season of "Teen Mom OG." The mother of three captioned a photo of herself on the show, "teen mom OG wasn't a fit for me, it took away my peace.. and honestly — my peace has a price tag that no one but God can afford. $ doesn't impress me, I don't entertain bs, and walking away from this show allows God to rebuild me (and my little fam) in the right direction. I have love for all the girls on the show, and wish them the best of luck in all their future endeavors!!"
Third "The Walking Dead" series officially a go at AMC
AMC announced on April 8 that it's greenlighted a third series set within the world of "The Walking Dead," which also includes spinoff "Fear the Walking Dead." The new show will have a 10-episode first season and will begin production in Virginia this summer for a 2020 debut. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the series will center around two young female protagonists, will be set in a new corner of the world and will focus on the first generation of young people to come of age during the apocalypse. "Some will become heroes. Some will become villains. In the end, all of them will be changed forever. Grown-up and cemented in their identities, both good and bad," the network described the show.
"JAG" reunion: Catherine Bell to join David James Elliott on "NCIS: Los Angeles"
Catherine Bell will return to her iconic "JAG" role — Lieutenant Colonel Sarah "Mac" MacKenzie — on the finale of Season 10 of "NCIS: Los Angeles" on May 19, TVLine reported on April 2. David James Elliott will also appear on the season finale — as well as on the season's penultimate episode — as his former "JAG" alter ego, Navy Captain Harmon Rabb Jr. Several former "JAG" stars have popped up on episodes of the original spinoff series, "NCIS," as well as "NCIS: L.A." over the years. Speaking of the "NCIS" franchise, CBS announced in April that all three shows will be back for new seasons later this year.
"The Umbrella Academy" renewed for Season 2 at Netflix
Netflix announced on April 2 that "The Umbrella Academy" will be back for a 10-episode second season, with production to kick off in Toronto this summer. In mid-April, the streaming giant claimed that 45 million member households worldwide watched the first season of the comic book adaptation in the month after it first dropped.