Afternoon roundup: Prairie Home Companion tailgating, Madeleine Brand returns to radio

Episode four of the new season of Portlandia, starring Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, will feature A Prairie Home Companion tailgating. The sketch is also being spun off into a series of four webisodes, which can be viewed online before the season premiere.  Season four of Portlandia premieres Feb. 27 at 10 p.m. on the Independent Film Channel. If an avid blogger can't leave a comment on your website, he'll write about it. That's what tech-savvy journalist Doc Searls did when he encountered issues with a story from WBUR, Boston's NPR news station.

kerger2 press tour jan 2014

PBS recruiting new development chief

PBS is in "the final stages" of hiring a new executive to improve public TV fundraising efforts at both the local and national levels, President Paula Kerger announced during the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour in Pasadena, Calif., Monday.

Sherlock to follow Downton Abbey on Sundays

PBS is pairing two Masterpiece favorites on Sunday nights: the upcoming third season of its hit Sherlock and ratings blockbuster Downton Abbey, the network announced today. "We continue to execute on our programming strategy to focus on our key genres, build on our night-by-night schedule, and develop new brand-defining content that sets PBS apart in the changing media landscape," PBS program chief Beth Hoppe told member station executives in an email today. PBS also announced that its 2012–13 primetime programming ratings increased 7 percent over last season, elevating the network to No. 8 among all broadcast and cable outlets from its previous rank of No. 11.

PBS programs win three at 2013 Creative Arts Emmys

American Masters and Downton Abbey led the opening round of the annual Primetime Emmys Sept. 15 by claiming three Creative Arts Emmys for PBS. American Masters, a production of New York's WNET, topped the category for outstanding documentary or nonfiction series. Credit for the Emmy went to Susan Lacy, executive producer; Julie Sacks, supervising producer; Prudence Glass, series producer; and Jessica Levin, producer. The Emmy for direction in nonfiction programming was awarded to Robert Trachtenberg for his direction of the American Masters biography "Mel Brooks: Make a Noise."

Upcoming season brings more Downton Abbey merchandise

The fourth season of Downton Abbey, launching in January on Masterpiece, will bring an influx of related merchandise. Soon fans will be able to create a quilt with Downton fabric, drape themselves in Downton jewelry, deck their halls with Downton Christmas ornaments and toast their favorite program with Downton wine as products roll out in anticipation of the premiere. “Our licensing program includes a two-pronged approach,” said Carole Postal, a co-president of Knockout Licensing in New York City, which is managing Downton product licensing in the U.S. and Canada. “Aspirational products are for those who love the elegant period look and feel of the show, and fan-based products are for those who want to show and share their enthusiasm for the characters, the writing and everything else about the series.”

Carnival Films, part of NBCUniversal, owns the intellectual-property rights to the Edwardian costume drama, which has been a huge ratings and critical hit for PBS. Executive Producer Gareth Neame told The Associated Press that Downton merchandise has been rolling out slowly.