News Nuggets: Season finale of ‘The Walking Dead’ scorches with record ratings again

Zombie drama “The Walking Dead” continues to set ratings records for AMC. The fifth season finale is now the highest rated in the history of the series with 15.8 million viewers. The cable network expects those numbers to exceed 20 million when time-shifted viewing is added. SPOILERS AHEAD. In a separate postmortem, Adam Bryant asks if Rick (Andrew Lincoln) is really in charge again? He also interviews actor Lennie James about his surprise return as fan-favorite character Morgan. In the past, he was “a homicidal maniac reeling from the death of his wife and son” but now “seems to be a zen warrior who wants to preserve life at all costs.” TV Guide

Taylor Swift takes home three trophies at the iHeartRadio Music Awards on Sunday. She is now the reigning Artist of the Year, and also won for Song (“Shake it Off“) and Lyrics (“Blank Space”). Justin Timberlake was awarded the Innovator Award. Other winners included Hozier, Calvin Harris, Brantley Gilbert, 5 Seconds of Summer, Jason Aldean, and Sam Smith. The Wrap

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The next live musical event for NBC will be “The Wiz” next December. It will mark the third venture for producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan after “The Sound of Music” and “Peter Pan.” They will partner with Cirque du Soleil to stage the production, with Tony winners Kenny Leon directing and Harvey Fierstein contributing new material. The 1970s movie version starred Diana Ross and Michael Jackson, but no casting news yet for this show. TV Line

What are the five main things you need to know about “The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah? Comedy Central confirms rumors on Monday that he will replace Jon Stewart sometime later this year. He became a correspondent on the show in December, and is only 31, making him by far the youngest of the late night hosts. He is from Soweto, South Africa, and speaks six languages. USA Today

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The Drama League will honor three stage luminaries at the 81st annual Drama League Awards on May 15. Tony and Oscar winning actor Joel Grey will receive the Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theater Award. Tony winner Stephen Daldry will be recognized with the Founders Award for Excellence in Directing. WNET’s Neal Shapiro and David Horn will receive an award for their unique contribution to theater. Playbill

The Academy of Country Music Awards add even more performers to their 50th annual event on April 19. Newly announced are Christina Aguilera, Alan Jackson, Nick Jonas, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Martina McBride, Brad Paisley, and Rascal Flatts. Duo Brooks and Dunn will reunite for the first time since they disbanded. People

Rapper and actor Ludacris will co-host this year’s Billboard Music Awards with model Chrissy Teigen. He says, “I had so much fun hosting the Billboard Music Awards last year and I can’t wait to be back!” His new album “Ludaversal” drops this week. The 2015 ceremony will be live May 17 on ABC. Billboard

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