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Sony: The Floor or the Suite Life?

January 22, 2007 12:00 AM

Boasting among the plushest carpets and some of the finest food on the NATPE floor, Sony Pictures Television has long been a staunch supporter of the organization, with both company President Steve Mosko and President of Distribution John Weiser having served as chairmen of the organization. Sony was one of the few major studio distributors to remain on the conference floor when other syndicators defected to cheaper hotel suites for the industry's biggest rendezvous.

Needless to say, Blink blinked when it heard rumors flying during the convention that Sony could be pulling off of the floor and taking suites at next year's convention of the National Association of Television Program Executives. Mr. Weiser acknowledged that it is a possibility.

"This year's NATPE was absolutely terrific for us," said Mr. Weiser. "We had high foot traffic and packed schedules throughout our time here. But as we move forward, we are considering all the possibilities in terms of what is best for us. That includes what's best from a business standpoint as well as from a financial standpoint, and we will make a decision based on that."

Multiple sources from the major syndicators say the floor-versus-suite decision is driven by some pretty clear numbers: A booth can cost around $1 million or more, while a syndicator can get suites in the six-digit neighborhood. Benefits of staying on the NATPE floor include more foot traffic and visibility for an exhibitor, whereas suites are typically better suited for planned meetings.

NATPE President and CEO Rick Feldman wasn't available for comment Friday afternoon.

After Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution's Dick Robertson led syndicators including his own company, Twentieth Television and Buena Vista away from the floor and into nearby hotel suites in 2002, divisions quickly surfaced among distributors. Sony, CBS Television, and NBC Universal are among the major distributors that have been on the floor in recent years.

-Chris Pursell

CNN's Cooper Coup

CNN is feeling like the all-good-news network. Anderson Cooper has signed a new multiyear contract to stay at his home of the past five years into the next decade. Mr. Cooper has won or played a role in every major journalism award taken home by CNN in the past year: a DuPont-Columbia Award for tsunami coverage, a Peabody for Katrina coverage, not to mention two news Emmys and a business news Emmy for "360." Mr. Cooper's new contract will allow him to continue contributing a handful of stories per season to CBS News magazine "60 Minutes." The new contract also reportedly doubles Mr. Cooper's CNN salary to $4 million. Like "CBS Evening News" anchor Katie Couric, Mr. Cooper's show doesn't win its time slot but he earns his increased pay by improving its demographics. Some who may not be happy with Mr. Cooper's deal: The CBS News executives who had hopes of wooing him full time to the broadcast network, which is once again hoping to improve "The Early Show's" third-place position. The network had been eyeing Mr. Cooper and "Weekend Today" co-anchor Campbell Brown, who is well-regarded at NBC News. -Michele Greppi

Colbert vs. O'Reilly

In addition to inspiration, Steven Colbert drew about a half-million extra viewers last Thursday when Bill O'Reilly appeared on Comedy Central's "Colbert Report" for a record-setting episode. Mr. O'Reilly, the Fox News star, was returning a favor to Mr. Colbert, who appeared on Fox News earlier that night, pushing up viewership of "The O'Reilly Factor" by almost a million viewers. With tongue apparently in cheek, Mr. Colbert spent the segment complimenting the man he says he emulates. (If you imitate someone you owe them a royalty check, if you emulate them, you don't, he explained.) They took turns taking shots at Jon Stewart and Brian Williams, darlings of "left wing" critics. Those critics also love Mr. Colbert, but "They hate me," Mr. O'Reilly said. All in all, Mr. O'Reilly proved to be the bigger man, admitting an error in judgment: "This was a huge mistake, me coming on here," he told Mr. Colbert. -Jon Lafayette

Heating Up HBO's Globes Party

There was a record number of on-site Golden Globe Awards after-parties this year at the Beverly Hilton and at an adjacent Robinsons department store. HBO, Warner Bros., NBC Universal, 20th Century Fox, DreamWorks, Paramount and the Weinstein Co. all threw bashes, backing up traffic in every direction and causing logjams of media executives, celebrities, celebrity hangers-on and journalists in formal wear waiting for shuttle buses and elevators. For most partygoers, the biggest draw wasn't celebrities, but heat lamps. Due to cold weather, the indoor parties and warm tents were jammed. At the HBO event at the Beverly Hilton pool, the crowd crammed into the enclosed portion to avoid the chill. The hottest ticket was upstairs, however, where Prince performed, providing some heat. -James Hibberd