January 30, 2006 12:00 AM
Here at TelevisionWeek, we pride ourselves on breaking news. But never have we been more ahead of the curve than last week, when every major U.S. media outlet reported what we've known for 11 years: The WB and UPN are going to merge. That's right-in 1995 TVWeek (then called ELECTRONIC MEDIA) published a front-page exclusive on the pending UPN and WB merger. Describing the talks as "very preliminary," the article details a clandestine meeting between executives from Viacom, Time Warner and then-station owner Chris-Craft Industries. "The two together would make for a very, very unique and powerful network almost immediately," one source said. But as another source noted, "In theory, everyone agrees [the merger is a good idea], but as a practical matter, it is just not easy to pull off." The article was written by Thomas Tyrer, whose foresight has since been acquired by Fox Cable Networks Group, where he's senior VP of corporate communications. When contacted about the article, Mr. Tyrer said, "Any good reporter knows it's usually only a small matter of time-11 years in this case-to ultimately be proven right." -James Hibberd
MTV Likes 'Gay Mates'
If MTV's latest pilot sounds like a flashback to 2004, there's good reason: MTV has ordered "Straight Dates by Gay Mates," a reality show in which a pair of gay men help straight women find love. The pilot is based on a British series by the same name and was first optioned by Bravo in 2004 during the "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" heyday. With the option expired, executive producers Vin Di Bona and Peter Schankowitz (for Vin Di Bona Productions) and Richard Hastings and Tony McAvoy (for Prospect Television) have teamed with the William Morris Agency to help bring the project to MTV, which presumably will take a young-skewing and more contemporary approach. -James Hibberd
Ex-NAB Candidate May Represent … Cablers?
In a rather startling change of stripes, Mitch Rose, The Walt Disney Co. lobbyist who lost his bid to head the National Association of Broadcasters late last year, is launching his own consulting firm next month in Washington-and one of his first clients will be the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, industry sources say. Neither NCTA nor Mr. Rose would comment last week on their new relationship. But Mr. Rose is widely perceived to be a hot prospect in media industry lobbying circles because he is a former top aide to Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, who chairs the Senate Commerce Committee. Indeed, Sen. Stevens made no secret of the fact that he wanted the NAB to hire Mr. Rose as the association's top executive-a position that ultimately went to GOP insider David Rehr. Mr. Rose was reported to be a prospect for NCTA's top executive slot in 2004, before the cable TV industry association hired another Republican insider, Kyle McSlarrow, as president and CEO. -Doug Halonen