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A Giant of the Industry Looks for Laughs

November 1, 2004 12:00 AM

One of the biggest movie stars in the world has entered into a development deal to do his first-ever sitcom. How big is Michael Clarke Duncan? About 6 feet 5 inches and built like a man mountain, as you may recall from his roles in such films as "The Green Mile," "The Scorpion King" and "Daredevil." He has teamed with producer Claude Brooks (UPN's "Second Time Around") for a project tentatively titled "Still the Champ." Mr. Duncan would star as a retired heavyweight champion fighter adjusting to domestic life with his wife and adopted daughters. While he looks as though he could be a bodyguard (which at one time he was), the Chicago native is known for his sweet temperament, which should provide an interesting contrast on a comedy. Mr. Brooks' C to the B Productions is shopping the half-hour show to networks this week. -JAMES HIBBERD



News Ethics

While the news business has been rocked by controversy recently-from CBS's Memogate to Sinclair's Kerry "news special"-one group has been teaching local news directors to make ethical decisions not just in an election season but year-round. The Carole Kneeland Project for Responsible Television Journalism, founded in 1998 in honor of Ms. Kneeland, a news VP at KVUE-TV in Austin, Texas, who died of breast cancer, presents twice-annual seminars for news directors with less than three years of experience. "We want them to get into the coverage of the issues themselves and not depend on official sources whose views are tainted," said Valerie Hyman, a seminar trainer and founder of the broadcast program at the Poynter Institute. Joey Parker, news director for KCWY-TV in Casper, Wyo., who attended last month, said the program "challenged our views on how we gather and present news and information, made us reconsider our roles as managers and caused us to evaluate our thought processes." The next seminar is in March (information: kneelandproject.org).

-JULIANA SHALLCROSS



Happy Hardballing

NBC Universal's syndicated weekend news program "The Chris Matthews Show" has benefited from viewers' increased interest in politics thanks to the presidential election. "Matthews" scored a 2.4 for the week ended Oct. 17-up 14 percent from the previous week-and saw modest growth in men and women 18 to 49, according to Nielsen Media Research. But can the third-season show keep the momentum going once Bush-Kerry fever subsides? Nancy Nathan, the show's executive producer, said the show can because it is different from its main competition. "The [network] Sunday morning news shows that are in our environment will once again be back to having on senators debating policy," she said, noting that "Matthews"' stable of D.C. insiders, and not party flacks, gives it an edge. "We'll lose the horse race, but we can still do the same gaming-who's up, who's down-throughout [the year]," Ms. Nathan said. "It's the kind of thing that's very political, but it calls on Washington observers to give viewers the skinny."

-CHRISTOPHER LISOTTA