May 30, 2005 12:00 AM
America Online, looking to boost its standing in the world of broadband video, is close to acquiring rights to the sequel to the 1985 Live Aid concert, expected to be announced this week and held in early July in London. The anti-poverty concert, to be held on the 20th anniversary of Bob Geldof's original Live Aid, has sparked rumors that acts ranging from Pink Floyd to the Spice Girls would participate. Other possible performers include Annie Lennox, Joss Stone, Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones and U2. The concert-sometimes referred to as Live 8 because it's being held at the same time as the G8 economic conference-would apparently be shown on AOL's site, with some parts available only to AOL subscribers. Portions are also expected to be sold to television outlets. AOL, which has already webcast a number of concerts, is developing several new channels, including one called "live" that will specialize in music and comedy performances. Others might feature entertainment, sports and news. AOL is in negotiations to operate "live" as a joint venture with theater and arena owner Philip Anschutz. An AOL spokesman had no comment. Mr. Geldof's organization did not return calls. --JON LAFAYETTE
Keep On Truckin'
MTV Networks is the only major basic cable group without an HD channel, but that may be about to change. The network wouldn't comment, but there is a first sign that MTV is finally getting on the HD bandwagon (or in this case, truck). MTV is building a high-definition production truck for shooting on-location events in HD, sources said. The truck is similar to mobile production facilities used by networks such as ESPN HD. With Discovery HD, TNT HD and Universal HD on the air, it seems inevitable MTV won't be far behind. The real question is: Does anybody really want to see Bam Margera in hi-def? --JAMES HIBBERD
By the time Carrie Underwood became the fourth "American Idol," more than half a billion total votes had been cast by phone or text messaging. "Idol" sponsor Cingular got plenty of promotion, with shots of fans texting away at the end of competition episodes. But when Blink went to last week's live finale at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, a "no cellphones" warning was given on a memo handed out with the show's tickets. A Fox spokesman said cellphones were banned because they tend to go off during performances. So were the Cingular phones shown on the show fake? Fox isn't talking, but "Idol" is shot live in Los Angeles at 5 p.m. (PT) for its East Coast airing, hours before voting is allowed from the West Coast. So anyone texting during the show is, like Ms. Underwood, performing for the cameras. A Cingular spokeswoman said it must have been a "demonstration." Blink is shocked, shocked to learn the top reality show is partially scripted. --CHRISTOPHER LISOTTA