November 2008

‘Meet the Press’ Loses Brokaw Dec. 7

Tom Brokaw's last day as moderator of "Meet The Press" will most likely be on Dec. 7, according to the New York Times. Brokaw filled in as the interim moderator after the death of Tim Russert in June, and there has been much public speculation as to who will be the show's next permanent host. However, according to the Times, NBC News is still determining who that replacement will be.
—Joel Keller

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NBC to Give Prime-Time ‘Deal’ Rest

During its announcement of its January schedule, NBC revealed that it is taking the prime-time version of "Deal or No Deal" off the schedule for a rest, says Daily Variety. When the show leaves the air after the holidays, the syndicated daytime version of "Deal" will be the only regularly-airing version. The trade says the prime-time version will be used as a "utility player," airing during the holidays or when it produces stunt-filled special episodes.
—Joel Keller

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ABC Tests Ghostly Romance for 'Grey's'

According to EW.com, ABC is testing audience reaction to a romantic storyline on "Grey's Anatomy" that would pair surgical resident Izzie Stevens with the late Denny Duquette. The ghostly romance reportedly is being tested by the network and creator Shonda Rhimes in response to the top show's 17% decline in ratings from last season. Neither Rhimes, ABC nor Katherine Heigl, who plays Izzie, responded to EW's request for a response.
—Joel Keller

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Lucci Takes Pay Cut as Ad Revenue Vanishes

"All My Children" star Susan Lucci, along with all the other stars of the ABC soap, have taken significant pay cuts, according to Ad Age. Show creator Agnes Nixon cites the poor advertising market as the primary reason for the belt-tightening. Nixon told Ad Age that affiliates have been hurt the most in daytime due to the fact that "the automobile dealers don't advertise [like they used to]."
—Joel Keller

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Penn. Democrats Talk to Matthews About Senate Run

The Los Angeles Times says "Hardball" host Chris Matthews recently sat down with Democratic Party officials in Pennsylvania about a possible 2010 run for the U.S. Senate. The MSNBC host and Philadelphia native has been talking about running for the Senate since early this year. The state's Democrats are hoping for an upset of longtime incumbent Republican Sen. Arlen Specter, and Matthews is the most high-profile of the candidates under consideration, says the paper.
—Joel Keller

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FCC Tells Stations to Reveal Closed Captioning Contacts

The Federal Communications Commission has instituted a rule that will require TV stations to provide contact information for viewers who have questions about closed captioning, TVNewsday reports. The ruling, published Nov. 7, sets out guidelines on how stations should handle immediate complaints about captioning problems as well as give viewers a designated person to contact with general captioning questions and complaints. The station or programming provider will have just 30 days to respond, according to TVNewsday.
—Joel Keller

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'Worldfocus' Scores in Ratings

On Tuesday night, the 2-month-old news program "Worldfocus" beat its closest competitor, "BBC World News," in the overall ratings, says the TVNewser blog. "Worldfocus" is anchored by former NBC News reporter Martin Savidge and airs on many PBS stations around the country. According to TV Newser, the program is up 16% from its lifetime average, while the BBC program is down 15% from its eight-week average.
—Joel Keller

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Scarborough’s ‘Morning Joe’ to Radio?

The TVNewser blog is reporting that Joe Scarborough is in negotiations with Citadel Broadcasting to bring the "Morning Joe" show to WABC-AM in New York. If the deal is finalized, a radio version of the MSNBC program, complete with co-host Mika Brzezinski would be slotted in the 10 a.m. - noon slot, between Don Imus' and Rush Limbaugh's shows. Scarborough told TV Newser that he'd like to start his radio venture "by the beginning of the year."
—Joel Keller

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Sezmi Gets $33 Mil in Funding

Sezmi Corp., which is trying to put together an interactive, multichannel station for over-the-air distribution, announced that it received $33 million in funding, according to TVNewsday. Sezmi is attempting to deliver 35 to 40 cable channels and an extensive list of vide-on-demand offerings for half the price of cable or satellite providers. The funding comes on the heels of the company's layoff of 20% of its workforce, according to TVNewsday.
—Joel Keller

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'Mother's' Smulders on Mommy Track

People.com is reporting that Cobie Smulders of CBS' "How I Met Your Mother" is expecting her first child with her boyfriend, actor Taran Killiam. Her "HIMYM" co-star, Alyson Hannigan, announced her pregnancy just over a month ago. No word on how Smulders' pregnancy will be written into the show; the baby is due in late spring, according to People.
—Joel Keller

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Former MTV Exec to Helm MySpace Music

Courtney Holt, formerly executive VP of digital music for MTV Networks, has been named president of MySpace Music, says Reuters. MySpace Music is a joint venture between parent company News Corp. and the four major record companies to provide exclusive content to artists' pages on the social networking site. The wire service reports that Holt will serve as a liaison between MySpace management and the management of the record companies.
—Joel Keller

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'Secret' SAG Meeting Never Happened

The Deadline Hollywood Daily blog reports that a secret, celebrity-filled strike meeting of Screen Actors Guild members never took place, as former New York Times reporter Sharon Waxman reported on her blog. According to SAG, the meeting, in which a strike motion supposedly was approved, never took place. Deadline Hollywood Daily also reports that Waxman has removed the disputed blog entry.
—Joel Keller

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Nielsen: Hispanic Households Lagging in DTV Switch

Nielsen reports the adoption of digital television by Hispanic households is falling behind the rate of other households, according to Multichannel News. Nielsen says 12.4% of Hispanic households are "completely unready" for the February DTV switchover, compared with 6.7% of non-Hispanic households. That rate has remained unchanged from the October survey, says Multichannel.
—Joel Keller

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Initial Standard for DTV-to-Mobile Broadcasts OK'd

The Advanced Television Systems Committee has approved a proposal to allow digital television stations to broadcast to mobile phones, Broadcasting & Cable reports. The standard, which is expected to be finalized in mid-2009, is designed to bring a
number of interactive elements that users will be able to control from their cell phones. B&C reports that those interactive features may include audience voting via an Internet connection as well as on-demand in-vehicle news, traffic and sports.
—Joel Keller

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BBB Asks Verizon to Modify FiOS Claims

The national advertising division of the Better Business Bureau has issued a recommendation to Verizon to either change or discontinue some of the claims in ads for its FiOS service, according to Multichannel News. The bureau has told Verizon that it did not have enough evidence to support claims that FiOS had the best HDTV picture and that "channels came on quicker," among others. The investigation was initiated by a complaint from Cablevision, says Multichannel.
—Joel Keller

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Fox to Provide Content for Airline TV

Fox Broadcasting Corp. has inked a deal with Airline TV to include a 40-minute ad-supported block of content among the airline entertainment company's programming, reports Mediaweek. According to Airline TV partner IdeaCast, Fox is the first broadcast network to participate in the program. The block will be shown on Continental, JetBlue and Frontier Airlines flights, the media trade pub says.
—Joel Keller

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Auto Ad Spending Continues Decline

Auto advertising is expected to decrease a 13th consecutive quarter when third-quarter results are announced in December, the Hollywood Reporter says. The auto industry accounts for about 12.5% of all U.S. ad spending. The continuous drops in spending will have strong effects on local TV stations, which get more than 25% of their revenue from auto ads, the trade says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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CBS Sports Picks up Atlantic 10 Men's College Basketball

CBS Sports has signed a multiyear deal with the Atlantic 10 to broadcast the men's basketball tournament beginning in 2010, the Hollywood Reporter says. CBS already carries several men's basketball tournaments, including the Big Ten, Pacific 10, Conference USA, and NCAA's March Madness, the trade says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Actors Join Showtime, Fox Pilots

Showtime's drama pilot "Possible Side Effects" has added Jason Butler Harner to the cast, the Hollywood Reporter says. The Tim Robbins project focuses on a family that runs a pharmaceutical firm. Fox's comedy pilot "Boldly Going Nowhere" has also added "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" recurring actors David Hornsby and Artemis Pebdani to its cast, the Reporter adds.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Some Viewers Return to Broadcast

With the election rush over, some viewers who had been watching news on cable appear to be returning to the dramas and sitcoms offered by the broadcast networks, the Wall Street Journal reports. Ratings are up 2.7% at CBS over the past two weeks and a "24" movie on Fox attracted 21.1 million viewers.
—Jon Lafayette

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Koppel to 'Meet the Press'?

With Ted Koppel ending his contract with Discovery Channel, the Baltimore Sun says his next job could be moderating "Meet the Press." "He is certainly one of the few TV journalists with the interviewing skills, seriousness of purpose and breadth of political knowledge to carry on where the late Tim Russert left off," the paper says. Newsday figures the best reason not to give Koppel the job would be the big salary he'd cost NBC. But Koppel tells the Los Angeles Times he's not interested in getting into a "weekly grind."
—Jon Lafayette

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NBC Gets Real on Monday, Tuesday

NBC announced a new schedule for January that’s heavy with unscripted programming on Mondays and Tuesdays, TelevisionWeek says. Reality shows joining the lineup are "Superstars of Dance," "Momma's Boys" and "The Biggest Loser: Couples." Also returning to the network is "Friday Night Lights."
—Jon Lafayette

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TV Execs Look to AFTRA Actors

Some TV executives are exploring working with actors signed with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists as the threat of a Screen Actors Guild strike looms over Hollywood, Daily Variety reports. According to the trade paper, one executive commented, "The short-term mentality of [SAG's] leadership is just staggering to us."
—Sergio Ibarra

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Super Bowl Ad Sales Stall

After a quick start, sales of Super Bowl commercials have stalled at NBC, which will broadcast this season's championship game in February, the Associated Press reports. In September, NBC said it sold 85% of the spots for $3 million each, but there hasn't been any movement since. Past advertisers General Motors, Federal Express, Garmin, and Salesgenie.com are staying on the sideline.
-- Jon Lafayette

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Union to Star in Spotnitz Drama for NBC

NBC is working with writer Frank Spotnitz on a new procedural drama from Universal Media Studios, Daily Variety reports. Actress Gabrielle Union, who collaborated with Spotnitz on the idea, has been tapped to star. Union will play a detective who must race the clock to save someone's life, Variety says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Nintendo, Scion Sponsor Comedy Shorts

Nintendo and Scion are sponsoring Comedy Central's multi-platform "ThanxGiveAway" promotion, Advertising Age reports. The promotion includes two-minute shorts on air that feature brands and jokes about post-Thanksgiving sales pitches.
—Jon Lafayette

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MTV Plans Inaugural Ball

MTV is planning to hold an inaugural celebration that will feature live musical acts and stories from volunteers to encourage people to give donate their time to schools, churches and community institutions, TelevisionWeek says. The network is working with the organization ServiceNation on the event. "Over the last year and culminating in this election, we have seen a groundswell of engagement and a refreshed spirit of activism from young people," said Stephen Friedman, general manager of MTV.
—Jon Lafayette

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ABC's Gibson to Interview President Bush

ABC News anchor Charles Gibson will sit down with President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush for an interview this holiday weekend, the Hollywood Reporter says. The interview will take place at Camp David during the same week that ABC airs Barbara Walters' interview with President-Elect Barack Obama and wife Michelle Obama, the reporter says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Rachael Ray to be Quiet After Surgery

Syndicated show host Rachael Ray says she’ll have to be quiet after having surgery to remove a cyst on her vocal cord, People says. Contrary to earlier reports, Ray tells the magazine the surgery isn’t risky or related to throat cancer. "It's fine, it's just a little bump," she says. "I need to get rid of it though."
—Jon Lafayette

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Burke Crowned on 'Dancing'

Brooke Burke waltzed to victory on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars," the Associated Press reports. Burke beat out former football star Warren Sapp, who finished second.
—Jon Lafayette

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Murdoch Sees Opportunities in Downturn

In an interview with the Australian, Rupert Murdoch says that News Corp. expects to be able to buy assets as other companies look to reduce their debt. "There are going to be great opportunities, I believe, in media," Murdoch says. News Corp.'s preferred targets will be subscription based, rather than dependent on advertising, he says.
—Jon Lafayette

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‘Dad’ Looking Forward to Democratic President

Producers for Fox’s “American Dad!” are actually excited about a Barack Obama presidency, despite what audiences might expect from a show about a right-wing CIA operative, Entertainment Weekly reports. “It kind of invigorates the show because we’ve had a character who’s been on top for four seasons,” says executive producer Mike Barker. “Starting the fifth season, he’s now on the losing side of things.”
—Christopher Perez

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TiVo Sees Profit After Third Quarter

Following a big litigation award against EchoStar, digital video recording company TiVo has posted a net profit of $100.6 million during its third quarter, Reuters reports. During the same time a year ago, the company posted an $8.3 million loss. The company also announced it ended the quarter at roughly 1.7 million subscriptions. Gross subscriber additions were at 44,000, compared to 69,000 a year ago, Reuters says.
—Christopher Perez

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Network Launch Postponed to February

The launch of digital network .2 (pronounced dot-two) has been moved from December to the spring, Broadcasting & Cable reports. February’s national transition to digital television and the state of the economy are the network’s primary reasons for delaying the entertainment network’s debut. Not enough affiliate partners have been signed up for the fledgling network, which also contributed to the postponement, admits senior VP-COO Clark Morehouse.
—Christopher Perez

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Dalbey Named WLEX General Manager

Pat Dalbey has been named president and general manager of NBC affiliate WLEX-TV in Lexington, Ky., TVNewsday reports. Dalbey takes over for the retiring Tim Gilbert on Feb. 28. Dalbey, a regional VP for station owner Gray Television, comes from the top position at WTVY-TV, the CBS affiliate in Dothan, Ala., TVNewsday says.
—Christopher Perez

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‘SNL’ Buries Samberg’s Emanuel Skit on NBC.com

Reel Pop wants to know why a “Saturday Night Live” clip of Andy Samberg as Barack Obama’s new chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, was buried on NBC.com and not shown on Saturday’s broadcast. “Instead, ‘SNL’ led off with its usual meandering, toothless opening bit that went after Detroit’s top automakers groveling on Capitol Hill. It’s great to see NBC.com get exclusive content, but why ‘SNL’ would bury material better seen on TV is beyond me,” writes Reel Pop’s Andrew Wallenstein.
—Christopher Perez

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CBS Would Be a Hard Sell for Redstone

Crain’s New York says media mogul Sumner Redstone may not be able to sell CBS because there probably wouldn’t be any buyers. “There would be strategic buyers for Viacom,” says Alan Gould, senior media analyst at Natixis Bleichroeder. “I’m not as sure there would be a strategic buyer for CBS.” CBS’ reliance on advertising revenue makes the network a hard sell, Crain’s New York says.
—Christopher Perez

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It’s a Wrap for Swayze’s ‘The Beast’

Patrick Swayze has finished shooting TV series “The Beast,” Us Magazine reports. The actor, who’s been battling pancreatic cancer since his diagnosis in January, filmed his last scene Monday in Chicago. “He has so much energy that you don’t think about his health,” says Swayze’s co-star, Kevin O’Connor. “In fact, I look a lot more tired than Patrick does, some of the other crew members look a lot more tired than Patrick … and I mean that, too, which is weird.”
—Christopher Perez

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TV Attracting Viewers With Cash

Cash giveaways are becoming more and more ubiquitous these days given the status of the economy. The New York Times talks about the recent rise of the old marketing chestnut, citing CNBC.com’s $1 million giveaway as an example. “The prize money is certainly attractive,” says CNBC marketing VP Tom Clendenin. “But people like the opportunity to learn more about the market and about the CNBC.com site.” The $5,000-a-day giveaway from “Wheel of Fortune” and Fox’s new game show “Secret Millionaire” are also mentioned.
—Christopher Perez

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Gay Rights the Topic of New Documentary

Gay rights and the legalization of same-sex marriage will be the focus of the new documentary “A Non-Issue?,” the Hollywood Reporter says. The documentary follows philosopher, lecturer and author Dr. John Corvino as he engages in debates around the country with those who oppose gay marriage. “A Non-Issue?” will be directed by Matthew Mishory, who also produces with Robert Zimmer Jr. and Michael Einheuser.
—Christopher Perez

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‘Office’ Stars Kaling, Novak Go Home Again

“The Office” stars Mindy Kaling and B.J. Novak go home for Thanksgiving and talk with hometown newspaper the Boston Herald about their roles on the NBC show. “My character on the show is just an exaggerated version of myself … which is a little embarrassing,” Kaling says of her character, Kelly Kapoor. “Kelly isn’t a role model. She’s just sort of an idiot. It’s fun to play a character who’s not a forensics expert, or computer-science genius … the way other shows have Asian characters portrayed.” Novak has an equally good time playing temp Ryan on the sitcom. “It’s fun to channel your wildest and most far-reaching comedy,” Novak said.
—Christopher Perez

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WCAU Photographers Threaten Strike

Photographers for NBC’s owned-and-operated Philadelphia station, WCAU-TV, have voted to strike if their current contract talks with the station prove to be fruitless, the Philadelphia Daily News reports. The photographers are upset over what they see as the station doing away with seniority. Station representatives declined to comment on the situation because of WCAU’s policy not to discuss personnel matter. The Daily News says a recent agreement between WCAU and Fox affiliate WTXF-TV to share video news footage could be utilized more heavily should a strike take place.
—Christopher Perez

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‘NCIS’ Spinoff Likely

CBS reportedly is developing a spinoff of ratings hit “NCIS,” Entertainment Weekly reports. Though nothing has been confirmed by the show’s producers or the network, insiders tell the magazine a new crop of naval sleuths will show up later in the season in time for a fall series debut. “It’s still in the early stages,” says the anonymous tipster.
—Christopher Perez

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8 Million Homes Unready for DTV Switch

According to Nielsen, the percentage of households not ready for February’s DTV switch has dropped to 7.4%, Broadcasting & Cable reports. The percentage is equal to about 8 million homes that still receive their TV signal over-the-air, B&C says. Hispanic households trail the general population, with 12.4% completely unready for the switch.
—Christopher Perez

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Ion Conducts More Soft DTV Tests

Ion Media Networks, in conjunction with NBC Universal and the Association of Public Television Stations, is gearing up for a second round of soft analog shutoff tests next month, Multichannel News reports. The tests will take place in Los Angeles, Washington, Hartford, Conn., and Dallas on Dec. 2 and Dec. 4 at various times and durations. This round of tests will be the first in those cities as they prepare for February’s national switch from analog to digital. New York City will participate in its second soft test, Multichannel says.
—Christopher Perez

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Cable Urges FCC to Deny News Corp. Request

In a sign of solidarity, rural America cable and telecommunications companies sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission opposing a petition filed by News Corp. in September requesting that the FCC relieve the media conglomerate from the strictures established by the 2004 News Corp.-Hughes Order, Multichannel News reports. “The conditions placed on News Corp. continue to have substantial public-interest benefits,” said American Cable Association president-CEO Matt Polka.
—Christopher Perez

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Gray Makes Stock Repurchase

Gray Television repurchased 883,200 shares of Gray common stock for 20 cents per share on Friday, TVNewsday reports. The repurchase was made under an existing repurchase authorization previously approved by Gray’s board of directors, TVNewsday reports. Under this authorization, Gray could purchase an additional 279,200 shares of Gray common stock and/or Gray Class A common stock in the future.
—Christopher Perez

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YouTube Goes Wide

YouTube has officially gone widescreen, with video width expanding to 960 pixels, ZDNet reports. The Web site suspects the move was made to prepare for YouTube’s recent announcement that it soon will offer feature films on its site. “This new, wider player is in a widescreen aspect ratio, which we hope will provide you with a cleaner, more powerful viewing experience,” reads a statement on YouTube’s blog. “And don’t worry, your 4:3 aspect ratio videos will play just fine in this new player.”
—Christopher Perez

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Comcast-NFL Network Dispute Judge Retiring

The Federal Communications Commission judge presiding over the NFL Network’s access complaint against Comcast is retiring, Multichannel News reports. Judge Arthur Steinberg plans to retire effective Jan. 3, but several other judges, including chief administrative law judge Richard Sippel, plan to take over the dispute immediately, Multichannel says. Steinberg’s apparent support of Comcast during the proceedings could mean the dispute takes on a different complexion with his replacement, Multichannel says.
—Christopher Perez

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TiVo Launches Mobile Recording Site

Now you can schedule TiVo recordings on the go with the company’s new mobile site, TiVo Mobile, Broadcasting & Cable reports. Any TiVo subscriber with Series2 or Series3 boxes can go to M.TiVo.com on a mobile device to schedule a recording. Non-subscribers can use the site for television listings and access to TiVo’s recommendation engine, B&C says.
—Christopher Perez

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O’Donnell Readies ‘Rosie Live’

The New York Times goes behind the scenes as Rosie O’Donnell prepares for her Wednesday one-hour NBC special “Rosie Live.” The special, an attempted revival of the 1960s and 1970s variety show format, will take pages from Sonny and Cher, Ed Sullivan and Carol Burnett, the Times says. “For about the past five years I’ve been pitching this exact show,” O’Donnell tells the Times. “I’ve done it a million times in my head already.”
—Christopher Perez

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Ion Media, Johnson Offering Urban TV

Ion Media is teaming up with BET founder Robert L. Johnson for a new channel aimed at black audiences, TVNewsday reports. Urban Television will be 51% owned by Johnson and the remainder by Ion. The two media giants are asking the Federal Communications Commission to grant Urban share-time licenses that would enable the enterprise to broadcast its programming on a digital channel of Ion stations in 42 markets, TVNewsday reports.
—Christopher Perez

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WFTS News Director Leaving Station

The news director for ABC’s Tampa Bay affiliate, WFTS-TV, is leaving, Tampa Bay Online reports. Chris Jadick is exiting the station to become VP of communications, public relations and strategic development for Salem Enterprise Solutions, a Tampa Bay-located parent company for businesses and nonprofit enterprises. “We are beginning the search for a news director, and this is a terrific city and a terrific company, so I’m sure we’ll have lots of wonderful candidates,” said station GM Rich Pegram.
—Christopher Perez

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WGA, Media Company Fight Ratchets Up

The National Labor Relations Board has ordered the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producer’s case against the WGA back to the Los Angeles regional director from Washington D.C. with an order to submit a complaint, the Hollywood Reporter says. The AMPTP claims that the WGA broke labor laws earlier this year when it listed the names of union members who chose to become financial core members during the writers strike, the trade says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Redstone May Sell CBS; Viacom Safe

Sumner Redstone is considering selling his family’s movie-theater chain to preserve his media empire, which includes Viacom Inc. and CBS Corp., the New York Times reports. Mr. Redstone has indicated that if his current financing crunch gets bad enough, he is willing to part with CBS, but not Viacom, the paper says. Redstone was forced to sell more than $200 million of stock in Viacom and CBS to satisfy lenders in October.
—Greg Baumann

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Hulu Gives HD for Holidays

Hulu is taking major strides to increase its HD presence and will begin its “Hulu for the Holidays” initiative to add more 720p high-definition videos to the site through the holiday season, Broadcasting & Cable reports. More movies, TV shows and clips in HD will appear through Dec. 26, kicking off with NBC shows, including "Heroes" and "The Office," and Joss Whedon’s "Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog," the trade says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Ford to Stick With ‘Idol’ Sponsorship

Even with the automotive sector among the hardest hit by the economic turmoil, Ford Motor Company says it will continue to act as sponsor for “American Idol” during 2009, Broadcasting & Cable reports. An unnamed spokesperson for Ford confirmed the news. The company spent $78 million in sponsorship last year alone, and has contributed $328.5 million during the last seven seasons, the trade says.

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CBS to Top Total Viewership for Sweeps

CBS is wrapping up the November sweeps period not only as the most-watched network during the last month but also the most watched for the eighth consecutive week, the Hollywood Reporter says. CBS averaged some 11.8 million viewers during the last month, ahead of ABC with 10.5 million, NBC’s 7.8 million, Fox’s 7 million and The CW’s 2.2 million. The winner among viewers 18-49 remains too close to be decided yet, the Reporter says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Weather Channel Sees Layoffs During Transition

The Weather Channel has already cut about 60-80 jobs as the channel continues its transition to new owner NBC Universal, the Hollywood Reporter says. Although the current economic crisis has been leading to layoffs throughout the industry, NBC Universal “expected that there would be cost synergies as part of a company reorganization,” the Reporter says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Kutcher’s Katalyst Doubles Up at CW

Ashton Kutcher’s Katalyst Films production banner is currently developing two reality TV projects for The CW, Daily Variety reports. Katalyst, which currently has an overall deal for scripted content with CBS Paramount Network TV, is working on “The Beautiful Life,” which follow models in New York, and “Chloe Gamble,” about a Texas beauty pageant queen who wants to become a Hollywood star, the trade says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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CBS Keeps it ‘Past 30’

CBS is developing a new comedy "Things a Man Should Never Do Past 30" from Barry Sonnenfeld, Sony Pictures TV and the Tannenbaum Company, the Hollywood Reporter says. The project, inspired by David Katz’s book, will follow a man who works for a men’s magazine and his journalist friend, though it will not be a workplace comedy, the trade says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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'Mars' Creator Pleased With U.S. Version

Ashley Pharoah, co-creator of the original British version of "Life on Mars," says the American adaptation of his show on ABC is "marvelous," the Hollywood Reporter says. The British version was named best drama by the International Emmy Awards for the second time. Although there are some changes from the original, writer and producer Cameron Roach said, "It keeps the American audiences guessing," the trade adds.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Obamas to Sit With Walters for ABC

President-Elect Barack Obama and wife Michelle are sitting down for an interview with Barbara Walters, the Hollywood Reporter says. The interview will air Wednesday on ABC as a one-hour special, with parts of it also airing during "Good Morning America," "World News" and "Nightline," the Reporter says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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TV Viewership Hits All-Time Highs

TV viewing has hit a record high even as content consumption online and through mobile devices continues to grow, a new Nielsen Co. report finds, TelevisionWeek reports. The average U.S. home watched TV 8 hours and 18 minutes per day during the 2007-08 season, with the average person watching 142 hours per month, up five hours from the year before, the magazine says. Olympic coverage, sporting events and election news also drove increases in online consumption.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Reveille to Produce Tony Robbins Project

Reveille is producing the upcoming NBC reality project with Tony Robbins, TelevisionWeek reports, citing unnamed sources familiar with the situation. The project was first announced earlier this week though Reveille's attachment remained unknown at the time. Howard T. Owens, Mark Koops and Bruce Beresford-Redman will executive produce, the magazine says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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SAG President Defends Call for Strike Vote

Screen Actors Guild President Alan Rosenberg said he felt that the union had no choice but to call for a strike authorization vote because the AMPTP "have not moved one iota in our direction," KTLA reports. Rosenberg, who appeared on "The KTLA Morning News" on Monday, said a strike authorization vote was needed "to put bullets in our gun in order to get a deal," the Web site says. The AMPTP issued a statement, calling SAG "tone-deaf" for provoking a possible strike during an already difficult economic time, the Web site notes.
—Vlada Gelman

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Reality Shows, We Hardly Knew Thee

The honeymoon seems to be over for reality shows on broadcast television, Media Life Magazine reports. No new unscripted series are hits, and the only ones succeeding these days are aging favorites like Fox’s “American Idol,” ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” and CBS’ “The Amazing Race.” The novelty of reality shows has, apparently, worn off. “These shows are like scripted shows,” says Brad Adgate, senior VP and corporate research director at Horizon. “After a while there’s some fatigue.”
—Christopher Perez

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Obama Sets Communications Team

President-elect Barack Obama announced his picks for key members of his communications team, Broadcasting & Cable reports. Robert Gibbs, a media strategist during Obama’s campaign, was picked for press secretary. EMILY’s List’s Ellen Moran was named director of communications and Dan Pfeiffer, the current communications director for Obama’s transition team, was named deputy director of communications.
—Christopher Perez

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Minneapolis’ KARE Offering Buyouts

Minneapolis’ KARE-TV issued a memo to staffers last week offering buyouts to employees over the age of 55, MinnPost reports. “If the voluntary offer does not result in a sufficient number of volunteers, or if business conditions worsen, it may be necessary to consider other expense reductions, including layoffs,” the memo read. To cut costs, the Gannett-owned station has already laid off employees and gotten rid of its live-truck operators, the paper says.
—Christopher Perez

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Broadcast Nets Mull Overhaul for Survival

Broadcast television may be at the end of its rope, with ratings at an all-time low and with Detroit automakers tightening their advertising spending, Daily Variety reports. “This day was going to come,” says a media conglomerate executive. “I don’t think the business can be sustained without real change at this juncture. … We have a gun to all our heads.” Ideas offered to help keep the networks above water include dropping an hour of prime-time and returning it to affiliates.
—Christopher Perez

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E! Launches Make-a-Wish Card Campaign

E! is launching its third annual “Cards for Kids” campaign tomorrow, Multichannel News reports. The campaign, which benefits the Make-a-Wish Foundation, allows visitors to the network’s Web site to find free cards featuring the work of top children’s book illustrators including “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” illustrator Eric Carle and “Ms. Spider’s” David Kirk. Every time a card is sent, E! makes a donation to Make-a-Wish.
—Christopher Perez

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Dish Taps Rentrak for Audience Measurement

Dish Network has enlisted Rentrak Corp. to help measure its audiences, Multichannel News reports. Rentrak’s TV Essentials will deliver anonymous viewer-measure data from Dish’s set-top boxes, including second-by-second television programming and advertising information, Multichannel says. Dish will use Rentrak’s TV Essentials reporting system plus other Dish tools to analyze viewing of programming and advertising for linear TV and to generate detailed viewer measurement information, Multichannel says.
—Christopher Perez

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Comcast Sports Ups Stephanie Lafair Smith

Comcast Sports Group has tapped Stephanie Lafair Smith to head its corporate marketing division, Multichannel News reports. Smith currently is president of Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia, which enjoyed solid ratings of its coverage of the World Series-winning Philadelphia Phillies this year. Smith’s first day as senior VP of strategic marketing is Jan. 5; she will continue to report to CSG president Jon Litner, Multichannel says.
—Christopher Perez

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Stars Shine on ‘CNN Heroes’

The stars came out during Saturday evening’s taping of the “CNN Heroes” awards show, which honors everyday heroes, at Hollywood’s Kodak Theater, TVNewser reports. The broadcast, hosted by CNN’s Anderson Cooper, featured presenter Salma Hayek and performances by Alicia Keyes, John Legend and Christina Aguilera. Also on hand for the festivities were Robert Duvall, Meg Ryan and Cameron Diaz. TVNewser expects next year’s ceremony to return to Hollywood next year given the star-studded turnout.
—Christopher Perez

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Company Uses Facebook to Access Teens

EF Educational Tours, along with “The Real World” producer Bunim/Murray Productions, has launched a Web video series on Facebook, Adweek reports. “Life on Tour” chronicles teens experiencing a trip to Lucerne, Switzerland, Paris, Florence and Rome in weekly 5-minute installments. The first two episodes debuted last week. The series, an attempt by the tour company to use technologies teens are familiar with to help in their direct-mail and paid-search advertising efforts, can be found on EF’s Facebook fan page.
—Christopher Perez

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ABC Family Offering ‘Harry Potter’ Sneak Peek

The first four installments of the “Harry Potter” film franchise will air Dec. 5-7 during ABC Family’s “25 Days of Christmas,” TV Guide reports. Sneak peeks of the upcoming theatrical release “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” will be peppered throughout the three-day movie marathon. The marathon also will see the world television premiere of “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” TV Guide says.
—Christopher Perez

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CW on the Verge of Renewing ‘Top Model’

The CW is close to renewing “America’s Next Top Model” for a 13th season, the Hollywood Reporter says. Wednesday’s season finale of the competitive reality show was up 21% from the previous week’s airing. Just last week the network announced it would air “Top Model” host Tyra Banks’ syndicated talk show “The Tyra Banks Show” during its afternoon schedule next fall.
—Christopher Perez

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Fox Gives Feresten Six-Week Tryout

Fox’s “Talkshow With Spike Feresten” will begin airing weeknights at 11 p.m. for a six-week trial run beginning Jan. 17, Broadcasting & Cable reports. The show will increase in length from 30 minutes to an hour. Fox wants to know if “Talkshow” has the goods to compete against the likes of Letterman and Leno. “We’re making a concerted effort to kick Spike to the next level,” says Fox Entertainment President Kevin Reilly.
—Christopher Perez

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Fox Cable Networks Promotes Fang

Fox Cable Networks has named Jessica Fang VP of national accounts, Multichannel News reports. Fang, a six-year veteran at FCN, has been instrumental in some of the national accounts team’s most complex deals, including ones with Comcast, Cox and Insight, B&C says. “Jessica has been a crucial player in many of our most complex and challenging negotiations, while continuing to strengthen her outstanding rapport with our distribution partners—a testament to her terrific deal-making skills as well as her personal charm and wit,” said Michael Biard, senior VP of affiliate sales and marketing, in a statement.
—Christopher Perez

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Live Sports Streams Growing

Live streaming of sports is all the rage as it provides new opportunities for fans, networks, leagues, Internet providers and advertisers, Multichannel News reports. Networks are given another medium to cover more sports while fans are given better access and more options of what sports they can watch. “Live streaming events over the Internet are part of the personalization of the sports experience. … That builds stronger fan bases among more people who will watch more … which is why live streaming sports will continue to get stronger and stronger,” says Tennis Channel CEO Ken Solomon.
—Christopher Perez

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Comcast Disbanding CN8

Comcast’s regional network CN8 will disband by year’s end, Broadcasting & Cable reports. Comcast will replace it with the Comcast Network, a new network that will focus on the Philadelphia/Pittsburgh and Washington/Baltimore regions, Broadcasting & Cable says. Some 300 CN8 employees are expected to be laid off; some will move to the new network.
—Christopher Perez

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O’Donnell, Vieira Talk Walters, ‘View’

Rosie O’Donnell took her feud with Barbara Walters and “The View” to the set of NBC’s “Today” this morning in an interview with another “View” alum, Meredith Vieira, the Los Angeles Times reports. O’Donnell, who was on the show to promote Wednesday’s NBC prime-time variety show “Rosie Live,” told Vieira that regardless of what she says about Walters, she ultimately respects and loves Walters for opening doors for women in television. “The fact that I hurt her hurts me,” O’Donnell said.
—Christopher Perez

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Obama ‘New Best Friend’ of Sports Marketers

After submitting a video message for Chicago’s bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics and telling “60 Minutes” he’d support an effort to get the BCS to change to a playoff post-season format, Advertising Age is calling Barack Obama “sports marketing’s new best friend.” “If he can help institute a college football playoff, and if he’s instrumental in bringing the Olympics to Chicago, the money is going to be staggering,” said Don Hinchey, VP at sports marketing firm the Bonham Group.
—Christopher Perez

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Disney Spent $1.7 Mil Lobbying Washington

The Walt Disney Co., whose divisions include ABC and ESPN, spent $1.7 million lobbying the government during the third quarter, the Associated Press reports. The company’s subsidiary, Disney, lobbied on legislation ranging from tax treatment of film productions, theme park safety, protecting children on the Internet and intellectual property, the AP says. Also lobbied by Walt Disney Co. were the White House, the Commerce Department, the Justice Department, the Library of Congress, the Federal Communications Commission and U.S. Customs & Border Protection, among others.
—Christopher Perez

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Twitter Rejects Offer From Facebook

Twitter has rejected a takeover offer worth $500 million from Facebook, the Silicon Valley Insider reports. The offer was in all-stock form. Twitter felt the figure was inflated and the shares should be valued at the lower figures that have been reported for Facebook’s true valuation of $5 billion, the Alley Insider says. “It’s more about timing,” says an insider. “There is a strong feeling that there is still an opportunity—even with the economic downturn—to blow this thing out.”
—Christopher Perez

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Collective Media Debuts Ad Network

Ad network and technology provider Collective Media is expected to unveil its own performance-based ad network, MediaPost reports. Directive Network will stand out from more than 200 other networks, according to its CEO, Joe Apprendi, because, “unlike a lot of other ad networks, our top priority is full transparency,” he tells MediaPost. “Direct marketers don’t have to compromise transparency and quality content in exchange for more affordable pricing.” The network won’t buy from or sell to other ad networks and will be made up exclusively of comScore 1,000 ad-supported publishers, Apprendi says.
—Christopher Perez

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Colmes Leaving ‘Hannity’

After 12 years on the air, “Hannity & Colmes” is nearing its end, with TVNewser reporting co-host Alan Colmes plans to leave the show by year’s end. Colmes will stay with Fox News as a liberal commentator and as host of “The Alan Colmes Show” on Fox News Radio. Colmes also will develop a weekend program for FNC.
—Christopher Perez

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NFL Staying on Network TV

In the wake of last week’s announcement that the college football Bowl Championship Series would move its big games from ABC to ESPN, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell tells Broadcasting & Cable not to expect any post-season games from his league to air on cable anytime soon. When asked if the NFL post-season would continue to air on a broadcast network, Goodell told B&C, “The broader exposure is something that’s of benefit to us, so I think the answer to that would be yes. The NFL is the only league that continues to be successful on free television, and we’re proud of that.”
—Christopher Perez

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Station GM Resigns Amid Racial Comments

The president and general manager of ABC’s Fresno, Calif., affiliate KFSN-TV resigned Sunday due to racial comments he made while in a jury selection pool. Last week while at Fresno County Superior Court, Bob Hall told a courtroom that he couldn’t be a fair juror due to the defendant being a Hispanic male and research conducted at KFSN showed a high propensity for Hispanic males to commit violent crimes. The judge dismissed Hall and all who heard him. In response to Hall’s resignation, news director Tracey Watkowski told the Fresno Bee, “Bob Hall has admitted that the research he referred to during questioning was his own, and definitely not done by the newsroom or station.”
—Christopher Perez

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NCC Sales Hit $1 Billion

Mediaweek takes a look at spot cable advertising firm NCC as it passes $1 billion in sales for the first time. The milestone was reached with the help of this year’s election. “We took in an unprecedented share of political advertising dollars, probably around 18-20 percent, although all precincts haven’t reported in,” said NCC senior VP of marketing and business development, Andrew Capone. The year has also seen a rise in entertainment dollars and quick-service restaurant and casual-service restaurant advertising dollars for NCC, Mediaweek says.
—Christopher Perez

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NFL Game to Air in 3-D

When the San Diego Chargers play the Oakland Raiders on Dec. 4, the game will be broadcast in 3-D to viewers in theaters in New York, Los Angeles and Boston, the Wall Street Journal reports. The league is laying the groundwork for what could be the next big advance in TV technology. "We want to demonstrate this and let people get excited about it and see what the future holds," NFL senior VP of broadcasting and media operations Howard Katz tells the paper.
—Jon Lafayette

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Robbins Readies Reality Show for NBC

Self-help guru Tony Robbins has been signed to create a pilot for a new reality show for NBC, TelevisionWeek reports. The network isn’t talking but a casting notice indicates the series is seen as a transformational-style show like "The Biggest Loser," TVWeek says.
—Jon Lafayette

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Fox Goes With Ads Saturday Mornings


Fox is ending its Saturday morning programming deal with 4Kids early and is opting to air two hours of long-form commercials in what has traditionally been a block aimed at kids, Daily Variety reports. Fox will also be returning two hours on Saturday mornings to affiliates, the trade paper says. 4Kids, which also buys time on The CW to air children's programming, reached an out-of-court settlement with Fox terminating their contract in December.
—Sergio Ibarra

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SAG Talks Break Off

Talks between the Screen Actors Guild and producers and studios broke off, leaving the television industry one step closer to another debilitating strike, TelevisionWeek reports. It would take a 75% vote of SAG's membership to authorize a strike. In a statement, the group representing producers called the union out of touch with reality. "SAG is the only major Hollywood guild that has failed to negotiate a labor deal in 2008," the AMPTP said in a statement. "Now, SAG is bizarrely asking its members to bail out the failed negotiating strategy with a strike vote—at a time of historic economic crisis. The tone-deafness of SAG is stunning."
—Jon Lafayette

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Amanpour Gets Show on CNN Int'l

After 25 years with CNN, Christiane Amanpour is finally getting to anchor her own daily news show, the New York Times reports. The show will appear on CNN International, which is reworking its lineup, the paper says.
—Jon Lafayette

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HDTV Prices Plunging

Analysts expect prices for high definition television sets to dip during the entire holiday season, the Los Angeles Times says. If holiday sales are week, shoppers who don’t buy the day after Thanksgiving, aka Black Friday, might get another shot at the lowest prices closer to Christmas, the paper says. —Jon Lafayette

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Ford to Keep Spending on 'Idol'

Even while America's big automakers are begging Washington for a bailout, Ford Motor Co. plans to continue to sponsor Fox's top-rated "American Idol," Broadcasting & Cable reports. The publication cites data showing Ford spent about $78 million on "Idol" last year, including commercials, and $328.5 million over the seven seasons of the series.
—Jon Lafayette

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Some Don't Need to Watch 'The Hills'

With news outlets focusing on the latest from the people on "The Hills," some fans may be able to follow the characters without watching the show on MTV, the Los Angeles Times says. Viewership has gone down hill from a peak of 3.9 million in Season 3 to about 3 million this season.
—Jon Lafayette

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NBC Still Losing Viewers Under Silverman

Ben Silverman's knack for finding hits hasn't translated into higher ratings since he joined NBC, Advertising Age says. On the other hand, he has been good at generating profits by weaving advertisers into the network’s programming, the magazine says.
—Jon Lafayette

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How Now Rachel Maddow?

Rachel Maddow became a star on MSNBC as Barack Obama swept into office. But Newsweek asks: "How does a liberal, left-leaning 'Rachel Maddow Show' behave when a left-leaning president is elected?
--Jon Lafayette

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DVRs Changing Scheduling, Ratings Habits

The use of digital video recorders by consumers is changing the way networks schedule programs and is reducing the importance of overnight ratings in evaluating shows, the Associated Press says. Hardest hit is The CW, which gets 17% of its viewership from DVR playback. "We've got to figure out a way to monetize this content being consumed," CW chief Dawn Ostroff tells the wire service.
—Jon Lafayette

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Universal Studios' Pope Speaks

The Los Angeles Times takes a closer look at Katherine Pope, president of Universal Media Studios, which produces "Heroes," "House," "The Office" and "30 Rock." Ms. Pope's contract with NBC is up in June. "This isn’t an easy job, but I absolutely love the work," she tells the paper.
—Jon Lafayette

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NBC, ABC Add Stars to Projects

NBC has added Josh Cooke as a co-star to its upcoming pilot "Lost & Found," the Hollywood Reporter says. Cooke will play a psychiatrist in the project from Wolf Films and Universal Media Studios. Also, ABC has added Jessica St. Clair to the cast of the upcoming midseason comedy "In the Motherhood" as a series regular, the Reporter adds.
—Sergio Ibarra

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NFL Lets More Cable Systems Show Eagles

The National Football League is allowing cable systems around the immediate Philadelphia market to carry the broadcast feed of the Philadelphia Eagles-Arizona Cardinals game Thanksgiving night, the Associated Press. The game is being televised by the NFL Network, which has a limited number of subscribers because of disputes with some cable operators. The move to let more cable subscribers see the game followed a letter from Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter thanking NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for allowing a Pittsburgh-Cincinnati game to appear on cable outside Pittsburgh earlier this season. The letter asked that the same arrangement be made for Philadelphia this week.
—Jon Lafayette

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Endemol Signs Johnston for Reality Development

Endemol USA has signed R. Greg Johnston to a two-year overall deal to develop reality programming, the Hollywood Reporter says. Johnston worked with MTV for 16 years and helped develop "The Osbournes" and "Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica." He has been an independent producer for the last three years, the trade paper says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Cowher Comfortable in CBS Booth

Bill Cowher's name comes up whenever a coaching job comes up in the National Football League, but he appears content covering games as a CBS Sports studio analyst, USA Today says. "Yeah, I do enjoy [TV] more than I expected," Cowher tells the paper. "It's a great group of guys [in the studio], and I enjoy watching games with them."
—Jon Lafayette

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Lionsgate to Take 'Mad Men' on Tour

Lionsgate is exploring more performances for a musical revue inspired by its series "Mad Men," Daily Variety reports. A special benefit show last month in Los Angeles featured several supporting cast members doing 1960s-era numbers. Executives are reportedly eyeing productions in Las Vegas and New York, as well as London and Australia, the trade paper says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Falling Stocks Keep Pressure on Redstone

New declines in the stock prices of Viacom and CBS Corp. is increasing the pressure on controlling shareholder Sumner Redstone, whose family companies are having trouble managing their debt, the Wall Street Journal reports. Redstone has said he won’t sell stock in the two media companies, but he may be discussing selling a theater chain the family owns in order to satisfy lenders, the paper says.
—Jon Lafayette

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'American Life' Takes Documentary Prize

"This American Life" was named the best continuing series for the second year in a row by the International Documentary Association, the Hollywood Reporter says. "Life" is hosted and produced by Ira Glass and appears on Showtime.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Most Find Internet a Reliable Source of News

A Zogby poll commissioned by IFC has found most people consider the Internet a more reliable source of news than television, TVNewser reports. Of those polled, 37.6% felt the Internet was the most reliable source of news, compared with 20.3% of those who preferred TV. The poll also found that 39.3% of those surveyed trusted Fox News Channel on subjects important to them, more than CNN and MSNBC.
—Christopher Perez

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WDAZ General Manager Retiring

Bob Kerr, general manager of WDAZ-TV in Grand Forks, N.D., will retire in January, the Grand Forks Herald reports. Kerr has been with station owner Forum Communications for 32 years and with the station since 1981. “With all the fast-moving technology coming up, I just thought it was time,” he said.
—Christopher Perez

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Tricia Helfer Joins ‘Chuck’

Tricia Helfer, known to most as Number Six on “Battlestar Galactica,” has been added to the cast of NBC’s “Chuck,” Entertainment Weekly reports. The actress will play Special Agent Alex Forrest in the series. Other guest stars to look out for: Jonathan Cake and Sports Illustrated cover girl Brooklyn Decker, EW says.
—Christopher Perez

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‘Green’ TWC Drops Environmental Unit

Despite changing its logo from blue to green this week in solidarity with parent company NBC Universal’s “Green Is Universal” environment initiative, the Weather Channel is cutting its entire environmental unit, TVNewser reports. This means its weekend program, “Forecast Earth,” and host Natalie Allen are getting the ax. TVNewser expects TWC will slash more than the 50 jobs initially reported by the network.
—Christopher Perez

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Sezmi Lays Off 20 Employees

The broadcast-Internet hybrid TV service Sezmi has laid off 20% of its 100-person workforce, Multichannel News reports. Sezmi is a venture-funded startup founded two years ago, counting Morgenthaler Ventures, Omni Capital Group, Index Ventures, TD Fund and Legend Ventures as investors, B&C says. Sezmi still expects to launch its service during the first half of next year.
—Christopher Perez

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Interpublic Wins MillerCoors’ MC Media Account

MillerCoors has awarded its $400 million-plus media account to Interpublic’s Initiative and DraftFCB and WPP Group’s Kinetic, which will handle the business in new unit MC Media, Advertising Age reports. Kinetic and Interpublic defeated Publicis Group agencies including Starcom USA with their pitch, Advertising Age says. “MC Media recognized our need for dedicated resources from a diverse and respected group of agencies to come together to bring a unique solution to the table that will help us win with beer drinkers,” said MillerCoors’ marketing VP Jackie Woodward.
—Christopher Perez

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The Best Writing’s on U.S. TV, McKee Says

Esteemed screenwriter Robert McKee says the best writing is on TV, not in the movies, Breitbart reports. “The best writers are creating TV series. It’s all in TV,” McKee said. A ticket for one of McKee’s lectures on screenwriting can go for about $1,250; they have been attended by the likes of Ed Burns, Diane Keaton and Meg Ryan. “We’re going through a wonderful period of television,” said McKee, who cited the series “Six Feet Under,” “Damages” and “In Treatment” as examples of this renaissance. “In U.S. television, the writers have all the power.”
—Christopher Perez

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WABC Gets Creative With Newscasts

ABC’s owned-and-operated New York City station, WABC-TV, is getting creative with its afternoon newscasts, the New York Daily News reports. The station has so far aired four live half-hour specials at 5:30 in which it sent reporters to different parts of the city and put its anchors in out-of-studio locations. Wednesday’s report, for example, featured anchors Diana Williams and Sade Baderinwa broadcasting from a mall. The newspaper says the station is adding to its newscasts when many are cutting back due to the faltering economy.
—Christopher Perez

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Polly Bergen to Reprise Role on ‘Housewives’

Actress Polly Bergen is returning to ABC’s “Desperate Housewives,” TV Guide reports. Bergen will reprise her role as the deadbeat mom of Lynette, played by Felicity Huffman. The last time Bergen appeared, Lynette had sent her character packing to live with her gay ex-husband, played by Richard Chamberlain, TV Guide says.
—Christopher Perez

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Fred Thompson to Return to Acting

Former Republican presidential candidate and U.S. senator Fred Thompson plans to return to acting, the Associated Press reports. Thompson had been expected to run for chairman of the Republican National Committee, but he decided to stick with acting. “He seriously considered it, but he called and said that it was not in the cards,” said his former presidential campaign finance chairman B.C. “Scooter” Clippard. No specifics were disclosed as to what projects Thompson has lined up. “He has some wonderful opportunities back in the television market that probably financially far outweigh being chair of the RNC,” Clippard said.
—Christopher Perez

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Obama Video Message Backs Chicago Olympic Bid

President-elect Barack Obama appeared in a 90-second video message that was played today in Istanbul before the European Olympic Committee, the largest regional group in the Olympic movement, the Associated Press reports. Obama made a personal appeal to the body to bring the 2016 Summer Olympics to his hometown of Chicago, saying, “The United States would be honored to have the opportunity to host the Games and serve the Olympic movement.” The president-elect’s remarks were greeted with warm applause, the AP says. “I think it was very dramatic,” said Irish IOC member Patrick Hickey, who heads the European body. “I think everybody in the room was impressed with that. It added a great touch of spice to the Chicago presentation. The message was excellent. He was very gracious to the Olympic movement.”
—Christopher Perez

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Sears Stores Now Feature Comcast Services

Comcast’s digital cable, Internet and telephony services will be available in 400 Sears stores throughout the country in a new marketing agreement between Comcast Corp. and the retailer, Multichannel News reports. One hundred of those stores will carry a Comcast display complete with an interactive high-definition television that buyers can use to learn more about Comcast’s services. Customers will be assisted by Comcast-trained Sears employees, Multichannel says.
—Christopher Perez

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Local.com Integrating Local Video Ads

Local search network Local.com has announced the integration of local video ads throughout its local search Web site, MediaPost reports. “Local video bridges the product gap that exists between businesses that advertise in print, but perhaps don’t have the budget to move to television advertising yet,” says Local.com VP of product management Kim LaFleur. “And unlike TV advertising, ROI is fully trackable.” Local.com plans to aggregate geo-targeted video ads from other providers before eventually selling video ad units to its growing base of direct advertisers, MediaPost says.
—Christopher Perez

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Yahoo! Tapped for T-Mobile Mobile Search

T-Mobile USA has named Yahoo the official search engine for most of its mobile phones, MediaPost reports. Web2go comes complete with a customizable home page that provides news, financial information, weather, Flickr photos and Web images, MediaPost says. Yahoo will continue to sell and support the Google G1 phone with Google-designed built-in software, the article says.
—Christopher Perez

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WWE Stars Plan Iraq Holiday Special

Before they take off to Iraq to entertain the troops, WWE stars will meet with the media Dec. 1 in Washington, Broadcasting & Cable reports. Chris Jericho, William Regal, CM Punk, Beth Phoenix and Brie Bella will be making the trip that will be documented for a holiday special, “WWE Tribute to the Troops,” scheduled to air Dec. 20 on NBC.
—Christopher Perez

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‘Office’ Episode Extended Online

An extended version of last night’s episode of NBC’s “The Office” will be available Tuesday on the network’s Web site, NBC.com, the Hollywood Reporter says. The episode will feature additional scenes and extra footage. “What fan of ‘The Office’ wouldn’t want to see more?” says NBC Universal Digital Entertainment President Vivi Zigler. “There is such great material with ‘The Office,’ and it doesn’t always fit into the TV show. We’re thrilled to let the online fans see the full version.”
—Christopher Perez

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Gannett Announces Station Exec Appointments

Gannett Broadcasting announced today three executive appointments in its TV station group, Mediaweek reports. Ken Tonning was named president and general manager of the company’s Tampa Bay, Fla., CBS affiliate WTSP-TV. Tonning previously was president and GM of WTLV-TV and WJXX-TV in Jacksonville, Fla. Dodie Cantrell-Bickley, formerly president and GM of CBS affiliate WMAZ-TV in Macon, Ga., will take over for Tonning. Anthony Diaz will move to corporate as Gannett Broadcasting’s VP of sales strategy. Diaz comes from the CBS affiliate in Washington, WUSA-TV, where he was VP/general sales manager.
—Christopher Perez

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Letterman Makes House Call to Couric

When Katie Couric appeared on “The Late Show With David Letterman” Wednesday, the host forgot to ask the news anchor about Sen. John McCain, who during the campaign canceled his “Late Show” appearance claiming he was rushing back to D.C. to deal with the financial crisis, only to turn up that night to be interviewed by Couric. On Thursday’s “Late Show,” Letterman gave Couric a call to discuss the McCain flap, TVNewser reports. “I was all prepared to chat with you about this and you had, like, brain synapses misfiring,” Couric told Letterman over the phone.
—Christopher Perez

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NTIA’s Baker Supports DTV Extension

The Bush administration now is supporting the suggestion that some analog TV stations should remain on the air for 30 days after the national transition to digital broadcasting in February, Multichannel News reports. “It would be a helpful step, so I would encourage that passage,” said Meredith Attwell Baker of the National Telecommunications & Information Administration. It was only last month when Baker told reporters she opposed any extension as to avoid confusion, Multichannel says.
—Christopher Perez

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Fans Asked to Vote for Super Bowl Ad

The National Football League is launching a TV spot this weekend encouraging online voting via its Web site to select material for an upcoming ad, Brandweek says. NFL fans are being asked to select from 210 players’ life stories with the winning story to be used in the upcoming ad. Polls are open until Dec. 17, Brandweek says.
—Christopher Perez

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NBC Local Media Pumps Up Google TV

NBC Local Media has high hopes for its partnership with Google TV since they announced it last month, TVNewsday reports. NBC Local Media says Google TV will bring newer and smaller advertisers to TV stations, TV stations’ Web sites and other local TV screens in supermarkets, gyms, college dorms and gas pumps. “It’s not about slashing our price,” says NBC Local Media Sales senior VP Larry Olevitch. “It’s about building value.”
—Christopher Perez

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Michael Phelps Signs With Subway

NBC’s biggest draw this year, Michael Phelps, has signed on to a long-term partnership with Subway, Brandweek reports. Phelps joins fellow athletes Michael Strahan, Reggie Bush, Ryan Howard, Tony Parker, Laila Ali and Kimmie Meissner with the endorsement. “We knew Michael Phelps was a big fan of our sandwiches and we wanted to build that with him to illustrate that Subway is a brand that can play a role in helping everyone, from elite athletes to weekend joggers, perform at peak levels and make healthier, smarter choices about food, whatever the activity,” Brandweek quotes Subway CMO Tony Pace as saying.
—Christopher Perez

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Versus Still Wants NHL Rights

Despite complaints about the network from National Hockey League players and their union, Comcast-owned Versus still wants to keep the rights to the NHL, MediaPost reports. Versus President Jamie Davis said some of the players’ frustration stemmed from the issue of the network not being available in many of the hotel rooms where they stay. He said that issue has been addressed and now Versus is available in most of those hotels, if not all of them. The players would like the NHL to back to ESPN for other reasons as well, MediaPost says. “The marketing and sponsorship activities will flow from a good, solid national TV contract, which the sport has lacked now for a number of years,” said Paul Kelly, head of the NHL Players’ Association, about wanting NHL games to air on ESPN.
—Christopher Perez

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CW Reclaims Sunday from MRC

The CW will replace low-rated shows from Media Rights Capital that have been airing Sunday nights with a combination of repeats and movies, TelevisionWeek says. The "MRC shows are simply not working," CW COO John Maatta said in a letter to affiliates, according to TVWeek. The replacement shows include "Jericho" and "The Drew Carey Show."
—Jon Lafayette

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SAG and Producers Talk

The Screen Actors Guild and representatives of the studios and networks met for the first since July to discuss a new contract, the New York Times reports. Neither side had any comment on the renewed negotiations.
—Jon Lafayette

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ABC 'Scrubs' In; Mum on 'Daisies'

ABC says it is adding "Scrubs" to its lineup up on Tuesdays beginning Jan. 6, but remains silent on the fate of its sophomore shows, including "Pushing Daisies," TelevisionWeek reports. TVWeek says ABC is telling producers it won’t make more episodes of second year series "Daisies," "Dirty Sexy Money" and "Eli Stone." ABC also ordered four more episodes of "Life On Mars," TVWeek says.
—Jon Lafayette

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Curry Stops Kilimanjaro Climb

The “Today” show’s Ann Curry called off her climb of Mount Kilimanjaro about 3,000 feet short of the summit, the Associated Press reports. Curry and her five-person team from NBC struggled with the thin air and cold weather. "Here's the bottom line: I just did not want to live with any one of us having any kind of serious injury just to get us live from the top of this mountain. It just wasn't worth it,” Curry said.
—Jon Lafayette

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AMC Sweet on 'Sugar Hill'

AMC is developing "Sugar Hill," a police drama set on the streets of Harlem in the 1960s, the Hollywood Reporter says. Alex Winter and Steven Pearl are writing. Pearl and Allan Loeb, who have a first-look deal with Fox TV Studios, are executive producers. "As with all our other projects, this seemed to lend itself to unique and interesting characters and the promise of a really cinematic series that could stand side by side with our library of films," AMC VP original programming Jeremy Elice tells the trade paper.
--Jon Lafayette

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Cab Crashes '30 Rock' Set

Shooting on "30 Rock" had to be canceled Wednesday because a taxi careened onto the NBC show's Queens set and smashed into another car, the New York Post says. "Some actors were grazed by one of the cars involved. They were examined at a local hospital and released," an NBC Universal spokesman tells the paper.
—Jon Lafayette

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'True Blood' Giving Life to HBO

The audience for vampire series “True Blood” is growing on HBO, which has been dying for a new hit series, USA Today reports. "It's very nice to have a show on the air that our subscribers are clearly enjoying. It's funny and dark and sexy and scary, and it's smart," HBO programming chief Michael Lombardo tells the paper.
—Jon Lafayette

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'SNL's' Sanz Joins 'Motherhood'

"Saturday Night Live" vet Horatio Sanz has been cast in ABC's midseason comedy "In the Motherhood," the Hollywood Reporter says. In the series Sanz will play a man who had a child with co-star Megan Mullally's character's daughter. Meanwhile, Showtime has cast Jason London in its drama pilot "Possible Side Effects," the Reporter says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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No More 'Dancing' for Hough

Julianne Hough, who helped two celebrities win on "Dancing With the Stars," says she won’t return to the ABC show next season, E! Online reports. Hough says she wants to concentrate on her country music career. She and partner Cody Linley were eliminated this week from the show.
—Jon Lafayette

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Hurwitz, Howard Near 'Development' Film

Mitch Hurwitz and Ron Howard are reportedly close to signing deals for the long-rumored and –awaited "Arrested Development" film, the Hollywood Reporter says. Hurwitz will serve as writer as well as direct along with Howard. The project comes from Imagine and Fox Searchlight, the trade says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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'Shield' Goes Out With a Bang

With the 88th and final episode of FX's groundbreaking original cable series “The Shield” due to air on Tuesday, the Associated Press says the show ends on a high note. "It's everything a series finale should be (which is a blessing, as any viewer knows who has sat through a botched conclusion to a favorite show)," the AP says.
—Jon Lafayette

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Hail to '24's' New Chief

The Wall Street Journal interviews Tony Award winning actress Cherry Jones,who plays the president this season on Fox's "24," a shows that preceded the real America in having an African-American president. She says she was moved by the inaugurations sceen in the show. "When we were actually shooting the scene and I placed my hand on the bible, I started to imagine what that spiritual connection between presidents must have been like. It must have been tremendous," she tells the paper.
—Jon Lafayette

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MGM Networks Ups Tuchman to President

MGM Networks has promoted Bruce Tuchman to serve as president in a newly created role, Daily Variety reports. He joined the company in 2001 and has since served as an executive VP. In his new job Tuchman will oversee development of international channels distributed over various paid services and other platforms, the trade paper says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Explaining the Marquis Jet, ‘Entourage’ Partnership

Advertising Age talks with Marquis Jet’s chief marketing officer Ken Austin about, among other things, why the private jet company’s name frequently gets mentioned on HBO’s “Entourage.” “[Creator Doug Ellin] selected Marquis just like he selected Apple,” says Austin. “We don’t pay anything to be integrated into ‘Entourage,’ he picked us because of scripts that required aviation. They put us on last season and again this season, and I believe we’ll be on one more time.”
—Christopher Perez

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NBC’s Dog Show a Thanksgiving Tradition

NBC’s telecast of the National Dog Show on Thanksgiving Day has become as much of a tradition on the holiday as football games and turkey, the Associated Press reports. “It’s a celebration of the specialness that dogs bring to our lives,” said the telecast’s host, John O’Hurley. “They live in the present moment. They’re not looking at you and thinking of another conversation they should have.” The show will be taped Saturday in Reading, Pa.
—Christopher Perez

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Griffin Signs One-Year Deal With Bravo

Emmy winner Kathy Griffin has signed a new one-year deal with Bravo that will see her returning to host the network’s “A-List Awards” and starring in two one-hour standup comedy specials, Broadcasting & Cable reports. It had been previously announced Griffin’s show on Bravo, “Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List,” would be back for a fifth season.
—Christopher Perez

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McGrath Looks to MTV’s Future

MTV Networks chief Judy McGrath talks to the Economist about her plans for MTV in the post-“Total Request Live” world. For McGrath to keep MTV viable, the network must become more accessible via the Internet for its young audience, who are used to getting what they want, whenever they want it. A recent deal between MTV Networks and MySpace that would allow users to upload video clips would be an example of this. “I think the major strategy is that you have to be open and flexible, and probably change it every day,” McGrath says.
—Christopher Perez

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Spears May Appear on ‘Kath & Kim’

Stars Selma Blair and Molly Shannon and producer Michelle Nader of NBC’s new show “Kath & Kim” talked to TV Guide about the show’s costumes, mother-daughter relationship and the show’s past and future guest stars. “We just had Maya Rudolph on—she was hilarious,” says Nader. “And there’s talk of Britney Spears coming on for a story about Kath and Kim going to Las Vegas to see the Cher show.”
—Christopher Perez

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Vivendi Putting Off NBCU Decision

Vivendi says it will decide whether to sell or keep its 20% stake in NBC Universal in two to three weeks, Reuters reports. Every November until 2016, Europe’s largest entertainment group has an option to sell its stake to majority owner General Electric or by an initial public offering. “I have already said that we don’t consider ourselves to be long-term investors of NBC Universal,” said Vivendi CEO Jean-Bernard Levy.
—Christopher Perez

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Web Weathering Economic Freefall

Online advertising is showing growth despite the recession, according to the latest figures released by the Interactive Advertising Bureau and accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, Mediaweek reports. Online ad spending neared $5.9 billion during the third quarter, up 11% from the same period a year ago. The figure also is up 2% from second quarter 2008. Mediaweek goes on to say that the Web is weathering the worsening economy better than any other media to date.
—Christopher Perez

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Legion of Super-Heroes Heads to ‘Smallville’

The CW’s “Smallville” soon will be adding more DC Comics super-heroes to the series, TV Guide reports. The Legion of Super-Heroes—Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad and Cosmic Boy—will be making their debut Jan. 15 on the series, when they help Tom Welling’s Superman clean up his hometown. The three heroes will be played by Alexz Johnson, Calum Worthy and Ryan Kennedy, respectively.
—Christopher Perez

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Timberlake ‘SNL’ Skit Won’t Be on NBC Web Sites

The Los Angeles Times wants to know why the Justin Timberlake skit “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” featuring the singer-actor in a leotard and tights isn’t available on NBC’s Web sites NBC.com and Hulu.com. According to an “SNL” insider, Timberlake agreed to do the skit only if he received “performance residuals” for any further distribution of the skit. Instead, all online viewers get to see are a few seconds of the dance video skit and commentary from Timberlake and skit co-star Andy Samberg.
—Christopher Perez

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New Media’s Influence on Consumers Increases

The National Retail Federation and BIG Research conducted a survey that found new media—including online videogame ads, blogs, text messages and product placement—are gaining influence overall with consumers, Advertising Age reports. Among younger consumers ages 18 to 34, product placement is especially effective, with 18% of shoppers saying it affected their electronics purchases and another 16% saying it made an impact on what clothes to buy. “As new technology places itself on the market, [it] is diverting attention from the typical newspaper and magazine advertisements,” said Pamela Goodfellow, senior analyst at BIG Research. “It’s up to retailers to be nimble in knowing what the latest and greatest is to reach their consumers.”
—Christopher Perez

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Couric Talks Palin on ‘Letterman’

“Late Show” host David Letterman, interviewing Katie Couric, never asked the “CBS Evening News” anchor about Sen. John McCain canceling his show to do hers, the New York Post reports. Instead, the funnyman focused on Couric’s well-publicized (and ”Saturday Night Live”-parodied) interviews with McCain running mate Gov. Sarah Palin. The Los Angeles Times reports Couric clarified on-air a question that Palin believed to be elitist in nature. “She claims I said, ‘What did you read up there in Alaska?’ as if people in Alaska don’t read, or don’t have access to reading material … But I never said that,” Couric told Letterman. “I’m aware that people in Alaska have access.”
—Christopher Perez

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Layoffs at the Weather Channel

The Weather Channel laid off an undisclosed number of employees yesterday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The network was purchased by media conglomerate NBC Universal earlier this year. Officials for both TWC and NBCU wouldn’t comment beyond a prepared statement that partially read, “The economic realities of recent months have created challenges for everyone in our business. In addition, when NBC Universal purchased the Weather Channel earlier this year, we expected that there would be cost synergies as part of company reorganization.”
—Christopher Perez

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‘Gossip’ Actor Prefers Recurring Status

Actor Connor Paolo told “Gossip Girl” producers thanks, but no thanks, when they offeredto mak him a series regular on the CW show, Entertainment Weekly reports. Paolo, who plays star Blake Lively’s little brother Eric on the series, apparently wouldn’t appear in all episodes produced so he turned it down. “Gossip Girl” declined to comment, as did Paolo’s agent, but an agent theorized that the actor “probably didn’t want to commit to being ninth fiddle on a show,” Entertainment Weekly says.
—Christopher Perez

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Yahoo! at a Crossroads

Yahoo! is going through a series of transitions in the wake of CEO Jerry Yang’s resignation earlier this week, Valleywag reports. Sean Suchter, “the heart of Yahoo’s search technology,” resigned yesterday and may end up at Microsoft. That could be a problem, since Microsoft will no longer have to buy the company anymore with Suchter on their team, Valleywag suggests. The ClickZ Network interviewed various agencies to find out what the company should do next. “It is going to be important for them to uphold the level of quality and consistency of service that they’ve always provided,” said Carat USA and Isobar USA CEO Sarah Fay.
—Christopher Perez

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Meredith Invests in ‘Real Girls’

Meredith Corp. has invested in the San Francisco-based Real Girls Media Network, MediaPost reports. Real Girls, which bills itself as the premiere online destination for women 25-54, is made up of about 30 female-focused communities and social networks, thus adding about 3 million unique visitors to Meredith’s existing stream of roughly 12 million unique visitors a month, MediaPost says. “This environment is creating more opportunities,” said Meredith Interactive senior VP Lauren Wiener. “We’re looking for additional acquisitions and we’re not looking to slow down at all.”
—Christopher Perez

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Broadcast Interactive Media Powers NBC Local

The platform technology for NBC’s new local station Web sites is being supplied by Broadcast Interactive Media, TVNewsday reports. Broadcast Interactive, along with Clickability, Inc., provides content management systems to more than 150 TV and radio stations in the U.S., TVNewsday says. “NBC is able to get the best of both worlds: Web. 2.0 and open-source capabilities without sacrificing time to market or the cost savings that go with the ability to make site changes internally,” BIM CEO Timur Yarnell said in a statement.
—Christopher Perez

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Dish Network, Frontier Renew Partnership

Dish Network and Frontier have renewed their strategic alliance, Multichannel News reports. Frontier’s bundle offers more than 120 HDTV channels, one point of contact for customer service, and a single bill for all telephone, video and high-speed Internet services for Dish subscribers, Multichannel News says. “Dish Network’s ever-expanding list of high-definition programming and top DVR technology, combined with Frontier’s reliable phone and always-on high-speed Internet services, make an unbeatable package,” said Frontier executive VP of sales, marketing and business development Peter Hayes.
—Christopher Perez

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Fast Food Commercials Making Kids Fat

A new study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research and funded by the National Institutes of Health found that if fast-food advertising to children were cut the national obesity rate would drop by as much as 18%, Advertising Age reports. “We have known for some time that childhood obesity has gripped our culture, but little empirical research has been done that identifies television advertising as a possible cause,” said one of the study’s authors, Shin-Yi Chou. “Hopefully, this line of research can lead to a serious discussion about the type of policies that can curb America’s obesity epidemic.”
—Christopher Perez

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'Atlanta' Finale Highest Rated in Series History

Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” proved to be the most successful outing in the unscripted franchise’s history. Past seasons have used Orange County, Calif., and New York City as locales. Multichannel News reports the Tuesday season finale of “Atlanta” posted a 2.02 household rating, garnering 2.21 million total viewers. The finale was the highest rated telecast ever in all demographics for the franchise. Multichannel says..
—Christopher Perez

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Cable Networks Worry About FCC Inquiry

Six cable networks have written the Federal Communications Commission about concerns with the agency’s investigation of operators’ moving channels from analog to digital, Broadcasting & Cable reports. In the letter, the networks express concern the FCC’s inquiry will delay February’s transition to all-digital broadcast signals. The letter was sent by representatives from the Gospel Music Channel, the Sportsmen’s Channel, Bridges Network, the Africa Channel, AmericanLife TV Network and Retirement Living TV.
—Christopher Perez

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Extreme Makeover for Chicago’s WBBM

Key players are dropping like flies at CBS’ owned-and-operated Chicago station WBBM-TV, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. New general manager Bruno Cohen is cleaning house, having already axed the station’s news and local programming chiefs. Dumping the station’s tagline and its Sunday morning public affairs program shows the new head is entirely revamping the station, the Sun-Times says.
—Christopher Perez

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The Meaning of ESPN’s BCS Deal

Advertising Age examines the recent deal between ESPN and the Bowl Championship Series and its impact on live sports broadcasting. ESPN paid $500 million for exclusive TV, radio, digital, international and marketing rights to the BCS’ 15 games through 2014. “With the continued growth of technology and the depth of coverage that ESPN gives to college football on all its platforms during the regular season, this post-season partnership is a natural fit,” BCS coordinator and Atlantic Coast commissioner John Swofford tells Advertising Age.
—Christopher Perez

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NAB Looks to Gas Pumps for DTV Message

The National Association of Broadcasters is using gas pumps to get out the digital transition message, Mediaweek reports. NAB spots have been airing on PumpTop TV's network at 720 gas stations in 11 top markets including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia, with Spanish-language versions in some markets as well. The messages are expected to run until the Feb. 17 switchover to digital television, Mediaweek says.
—Christopher Perez

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HBO Releases New ‘True Blood’ Widgets

HBO’s releasing several widgets today for its rabid “True Blood” fans, MediaPost reports. The widgets, dubbed Droplets, were developed by Wetpaint and offer fans three ways to take content from the series to post on social networking sites including MySpace, Facebook and iGoogle. With the new release, Wetpaint CEO Ben Elowitz said HBO is the most aggressive brand when it comes to engaging with the audience or allowing fans to take content and post it on other sites.
—Christopher Perez

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Beck’s New Book to Debut in Top Spot

Former CNN Headline News talking head Glenn Beck’s new book, “The Christmas Sweater,” is poised to debut at No. 1 on the New York Times Best Sellers list, TVNewser reports. The book, Beck’s third, was released Tuesday and reportedly is already in its sixth printing. The book is based on a true story about “boyhood memories, wrenching life lessons and the true meaning of the gifts we give to one another.” Beck is expected to debut his new show on Fox News Channel in January, TVNewser says.
—Christopher Perez

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A Million-Plus Votes for 'CNN Heroes'

One million votes have been cast as of last night for this year’s “CNN Heroes,” trouncing last year’s inaugural show’s 300,000 votes cast, TVNewser reports. The show, to be aired Thanksgiving night on the news network, will be hosted by anchor Anderson Cooper. “CNN Heroes” honors 10 people who have made and continue to make positive impacts on society.
—Christopher Perez

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Lifetime Makes Federal Case Over 'Runway'

Lifetime filed a suit in Federal Court seeking to make its fight over "Project Runway" a dispute over copyrights,TelevisionWeek reports. With a state judge hearing Bravo parent NBC Universal’s argument that its contractual right of first refusal had been breached by show producer The Weinstein Co. and issuing an injunction against exhibiting the show, Lifetime has been trying to change the venue to get into the "Runway" business before the outfits on the show go out of style.
—Jon Lafayette

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NFL Network Case Goes into Overtime

The NFL Network's hopes for a quick decision on its complaint to the Federal Communications Commission about Comcast appear to be dashed by a ruling made by an administrative judge calling for a full hearing on the matter, the Wall Street Journal reports. The FCC’s media division sided with NFL Network and asked the judge to rule in 60 days, but the judge said there was no way a ruling could be made within that timeframe.
—Jon Lafayette

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WGA Seeks New Media Payments

The Writers Guild of America is seeking arbitration to get residual payments for its members for new media distribution of programming, TelevisionWeek reports. The payments were part of the new contract the union reached with producers after a 100-day strike that crippled the TV business last winter.
—Jon Lafayette

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Discovery Explores 'Detonators'

Discovery Channel has ordered a new series that explores the science behind demolition explosions, the Hollywood Reporter says. The show, "The Detonators," is produced by RDF USA and IWC and stars a duo of explosion masters, Braden Lusk and Paul Worsey. Discovery has ordered 13 episodes of the series, the Reporter says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Festivals Serious Business for TBS, Comedy

Comedy festivals are becoming important events for cable networks such as TBS and Comedy Central, Daily Variety reports. TBS will lead the upcoming Comedy Festival in Las Vegas this weekend, while Comedy Central is exploring similar events, having established a partnership with the New York Comedy Festival.
—Sergio Ibarra

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As Marketers Cut Back, Cable Looks Better

Marketers surveyed said they plan to cut their ad spending over the next six months, with cable TV likely to fare better than its broadcast counterpart, Advertising Age says in a story based on the new Advertiser Optimism Report by Advertiser Perceptions. Only about 16% of those polled said they planned to increase broadcast spending, while 27% were thinking about raising spending on cable. A whopping 68% still plan to increase online spending, the Ad Age says.
—Jon Lafayette

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More From Rosie on 'The View'

While promoting her new NBC variety show, Rosie O’Donnell talked more about her time on “The View” and her colleagues there, the Washington Post reports. O’Donnell says co-star and executive producer Barbara Walters “wanted everyone to believe and think and act as if [the show's on-air personalities] get along and are really good friends and happy and hang out together and . . . that's just not the reality."
—Jon Lafayette

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Landes Signs With 20th Century Fox TV

Michael Landes has signed a talent holding agreement with 20th Century Fox TV, where he will star in an upcoming project, the Hollywood Reporter says. The project may be an existing project or one developed specifically for him. He has previously starred in pilots for "The Wedding Bells" and "Courtroom K," the trade says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Walgreen and ABC Sell Times Square Ads

A unit of ABC will be selling ads on giant billboards atop a new Walgreen's store in New York's Times Square, the New York Times reports. The drug store chain will also have a presence this summer when ABC's "Good Morning America" runs its concert series at its Times Square studio.
—Jon Lafayette

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Van Der Beek Returns to 'Creek' Site

James Van Der Beek is back in North Carolina, the site of his star turn in "Dawson’s Creek," to film a guest spot on the CW’s “One Tree Hill,” the Associated Press reports. "This is just a real nice homecoming for me," said Van Der Beek, who will appear in three episodes.
—Jon Lafayette

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Silverman Joins Peacock Equity Fund

NBC Entertainment co-chairman Ben Silverman has joined the Peacock Equity Fund's board, the Hollywood Reporter says. The fund is a $250 million joint venture between NBC Universal and GE Commercial Finance’s Media, Communications and Entertainment branch. It invests in and works with technology firms on developing advances that would be of importance to NBCU, the Reporter adds.
—Sergio Ibarra

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MLB Network May Seek More Games

The new Major League Baseball Nework is already looking forward to 2013, when it can pick up a larger package of live ballgames, Multichannel News reports. Speaking at a conference Wednesday, MLB’s Tim Brosnan said the channel's "goal is to be in a position for a new package of games in five years." he said. MLB Network will show 26 games in 2009.
—Jon Lafayette

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ABC Family Adds Five to '10 Things' Cast

ABC Family has added five cast members to its upcoming series adaptation of the film "10 Things I Hate About You," the Hollywood Reporter says. Among the new castmates are Nicholas Braun, Kyle Kaplan, Meaghan Jette Martin, Ethan Peck and Lindsey Shaw, the trade paper says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Ad Spending on Rise in China

China's top network, CCTV, sold $1.4 billion in ad time during its version of an upfront, representing a 15% increase from last year, the Wall Street Journal says. "This is a tremendous amount of investment being committed to China at a time of incredible economic uncertainty," Seth Grossman of media buyer Carat told the paper. "China remains the engine of growth for companies on a global basis and domestically.”
—Jon Lafayette

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Mob Scene Opens New York Branch

Mob Scene Creative + Productions has opened a New York branch in addition to adding Ben Coplon and Jason Rein to the company, the Hollywood Reporter says. The Los Angeles-based ad and content production company works on trailers, commercials and other promotional material, in addition to producing FX's "Life After Film School" series.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Silverman’s Future at NBC Again Questioned

The Daily Beast recaps co-chairman of NBC Entertainment Ben Silverman’s meteoric rise up the ranks and repeats oft-heard speculation about his downfall, with NBC last among the Big Four networks in ratings. The blog touches upon Silverman’s reported predilection for partying and drugs and his missed meetings with rather important people. The profile quotes an interview last summer by TVWeek’s Josef Adalian with the NBC phenom.
—Christopher Perez

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Comcast Digitally Adding Product Placement

Comcast Networks has enlisted the U.K.’s MirriAd to digitally insert product logos into existing video content, Mediaweek reports. MirriAd’s work includes digitally adding virtual containers of Rice Krispies cereal and Maxwell House coffee to the 2007 feature film “Welcome to Paradise” and Toyota and Adidas logos into the “Deal or No Deal” set. “Successful content production and broadcast today demands fresh thinking to address a rapidly changing environment,” said Comcast ad sale president Dave Cassaro in a statement.
—Christopher Perez

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Election Coverage Shows CNN’s Buying Power

CNN’s awe-inspiring buying power is examined today in the New York Observer. CNN’s plethora of political pundits, its CNN Grills and those old chestnuts—the “Magic Wall” and those Election Night holograms—are used as exhibits A, B, C and D as proof of CNN’s $1.1 billion in revenue. “When you know that you have the resources, it liberates the creative side,” says CNN’s U.S. president Jonathan Klein.
—Christopher Perez

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Mr. and Miss J Working on ‘Fabulous’

The Los Angeles Times profiles Miss J. Alexander and Mr. Jay Manuel, Tyra Banks’ two sidekicks on “America’s Next Top Model,” as they prepare for their “Top Model” spinoff, “Operation Fabulous.” If picked up by The CW, the series will follow Alexander and Jay as they make their way from small town to small town giving glamour advice to everyday girls. The odds are looking good when the network’s president of entertainment has nothing but good things to say about the two hosts. “Jay is your parent in tough love,” says The CW’s Dawn Ostroff. “He tells you the way it is, but only because he wants you to be the best you can be. As much as Miss J criticizes and rolls his eyes, deep down, he’s just looking for the girl who can get it done.”
—Christopher Perez

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‘60 Minutes’ Winning Unopposed

The New York Times looks into the recent success of newsmagazine “60 Minutes.” Viewers’ hunger for important information in these hard times and exclusive interviews like last week’s with Barack and Michelle Obama are part of it, but so is the lack of competition from the other networks. “There were years when we had lots of competition, and it was hard to get stories and hard to be topical,” correspondent Steve Kroft tells the Times. “Now, once again, we have the field to ourselves.”
—Christopher Perez

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Soap Veterans Latest Recession Casualties

The recession is showing that it knows no bounds with today’s firing of “Days of Our Lives” veterans Deidre Hall and Drake Hogestyn, who play Dr. Marlena Evans and John Black on the daytime drama, TV Guide reports. The cuts were made so that the show could remain on the air for the next 18 months, the magazine said. Hall had been on and off the show since 1976, while Black joined the cast in 1984.
—Christopher Perez

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Couric Keeps Busy With Lieberman, Letterman

Katie Couric interviews Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., tonight, TVNewser reports. The interview will be the senator’s first since Senate Democrats agreed to allow him to remain chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, a post he had endangered by campaigning for Republican candidate John McCain. Couric also will appear on tonight’s “Late Show With David Letterman,” her first appearance since Letterman showed a live feed of her preparing to interview his guest who canceled: Sen. McCain.
—Christopher Perez

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FNC’s VP Rhodes to Join Bloomberg

Fox News VP David Rhodes is leaving the network for Bloomberg Television, TVNewser reports. Rhodes will head Bloomberg’s U.S. television operations. The 34-year-old phenom got his start at Fox News Channel as a production assistant before the channel went on the air in 1996. He rose from those humble beginnings to become assignment manager and finally VP of news in 2006. Rhodes is the first major hire for Bloomberg since Andy Lack became CEO last month.
—Christopher Perez

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Pixsy’s Network Expands With New Deals

Video search engine Pixsy has expanded its syndication network with five new distribution deals, MediaPost reports. eZanga, GenieKnows.com, IceRocket, EgoTVOnline and GossipGirls will rely on Pixsy’s Video Search Playback platform for access to the Pixsy Video Index. The videos can be searched and embedded into any Web site and provide a source of targeted content for users to search and view, MediaPost says.
—Christopher Perez

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Online Advertising Immune to Budget Cuts

With advertising budgets being slashed left and right, online and digital media marketing remains the most resistant to reduced spending expectations, MediaPost reports. A survey by Advertiser Perceptions showed more than two-thirds of the 1,000-plus ad executives interviewed expected to increase online ad budgets over the next six months, which is stronger than the expectations for other major media. Fifty-one percent of the executives planned to boost their mobile advertising budgets over six months.
—Christopher Perez

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ContextWeb Picks Up Time Warner Exec

Time Warner’s Joe Kutchera has been hired by Adsdaq ad operator ContextWeb as director of Spanish-language markets, MediaPost reports. Kutchera will oversee ContextWeb’s new ability for marketers to target the Spanish-speaking audience online by category and keyword. Kutchera previously developed Time Web properties including Warner Bros. Online, Fortune.com, CNNMoney.com and business portal CNN Expansion, MediaPost says.
—Christopher Perez

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‘Seeker’ Makes Legendary Debut

Disney-ABC’s “Legend of the Seeker” is performing well after its first week on the air, Broadcasting & Cable reports. The show scored a 2.9 live-plus-same day household rating and 4.1 million total viewers during its two-hour premiere on Saturday and Sunday. The ratings for “Seeker” destroy the previous syndicated action bow, “She Spies,” which in 2002 debuted to a 1.9, B&C says.
—Christopher Perez

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Senator Wants Price of Cable Reduced

Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., is poised to introduce legislation requiring cable companies to provide local TV signals at a reduced cost indefinitely to households that will lose over-the-air service after February’s digital television switch, Multichannel News reports. The senator is concerned about millions losing TV service when analog signals are turned off. “That is why I am introducing legislation that would require cable, satellite and other paid TV companies to provide a basic broadcast service to those consumers who have lost channels due to the DTV transition at a reduced cost, indefinitely,” the senator said in a letter to his colleagues.
—Christopher Perez

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Sony Goes Green With TV Recycling Service

Sony wants to help those who purchase any Bravia high-definition television that’s 32 inches or larger properly dispose of their old TVs with its new “Green Glove” service, Brandweek reports. When an installation team comes to install the new system, the old TVs will be taken away to be recycled responsibly. An estimated 2.25 million tons of TVs, cell phones and computers end up landfills, according to data from the Environmental Protection Agency.
—Christopher Perez

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OMD Tapped for CBS Media

Omnicom Group’s OMD has been awarded CBS’ media planning and buying account, Adweek reports. The assignment includes both CBS and sister network Showtime. The account was formerly with Interpublic Group’s Initiative, the former employer of OMD’s CEO Alan Cohen. Cohen was on Initiative’s winning pitch in 2006. CBS Marketing Group president George Schweitzer tells Adweek the move was made because of Cohen and his management team.
—Christopher Perez

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Cheetah Girls Cut from Thanksgiving Parade

Disney Channel’s the Cheetah Girls have been dropped from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the New York Daily News reports. According to Macy’s, the group was cut because of scheduling issues, but because the Girls have no performances scheduled on Thanksgiving Day, the newspaper thinks otherwise. The Daily News believes it was because of a recent publicity stunt concocted by the Cheetah Girls’ Adrienne Bailon and her publicist Jonathan Jaxson involving topless photos and a stolen laptop. “I’ve done this before with several stars and we’ve had great success, but this is the first time it’s ever bitten me in the ass,” says Jaxson.
—Christopher Perez

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The Roots Possibly, Maybe Fallon’s Band

Acclaimed hip-hop band the Roots may be Jimmy Fallon’s house band when he takes over “Late Night” from Conan O’Brien next year, Entertainment Weekly reports. The magazine looks to a recently yanked YouTube clip of producer-drummer Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson talking about the announcement and an also-yanked post about the gig on the band’s Web site as evidence.
—Christopher Perez

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Recession Adds Another Victim: Reality TV

The recession is having an effect on unscripted reality shows, the Los Angeles Times reports. An analysis by ad firm Horizon Media based on Nielsen Media Research data found that shows such as ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars,” CBS’ “Survivor” and NBC’s “Deal or No Deal” are showing ratings slumps that mirror the larger economy’s. Fox’s “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” has been hit the hardest, with its 18-49 audience half what it was last season.
—Christopher Perez

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'Project Runway' Fight Imperils Show

The legal fight between Bravo, Lifetime and producer the Weinstein Company over which cable network will get to air "Project Runway's" sixth season may keep the fashion-design contest off the air for several months, the New York Times says. Bravo aired the first five seasons of "Runway" and Weinstein sold rights for the next five years to Lifetime for about $200 million, the Times reports. That sale prompted Bravo parent NBC Universal to sue, saying it had a right of first refusal on the show. As the case continues NBC Universal is casting for a contest program tentatively titled "The Fashion Show," the paper says.
—Greg Baumann

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Ashton Kutcher’s ‘Geek’ to MTV?

MTV is currently in talks to air six episodes of a new season of “Beauty and the Geek,” the former reality series on The CW, TelevisionWeek reports. The new edition is being dubbed “Beauty and the Geek: Celebrity” and will star celebrity beauties paired up with new geeks. The potential deal will bring executive producer Ashton Kutcher back to MTV, where he had his previous show “Punk’d,” the trade says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Rashida Jones to Join NBC’s Poehler Show

Former “The Office” cast member Rashida Jones will be joining NBC’s upcoming project from Greg Daniels and Michael Schur, TelevisionWeek reports. The project, starring “Saturday Night Live” vet Amy Poehler, was rumored to be a spinoff of “The Office.” The show will revolve around a new concept and should debut in the spring, the magazine reports.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Analog Extension DTV Bill Shows Life

A DTV “nightlight” bill that would allow broadcasters to keep analog signals on for some time past the switch to digital television could go to a vote in the Senate as soon as Wednesday, Broadcasting & Cable reports. If approved by the Senate it would go before the House for a vote as well. If approved, broadcasters would still be required to switch their primary signals to digital but still be allowed to air DTV-switch information on analog for up to 30 days after the Feb. 17 shut-off date, the trade says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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CBS’ Leess to Leave Digital Group

CBS Television Digital Media Group President Jonathan Leess said he would step down from his post by the end of the year, TelevisionWeek reports. Leess has served in the role since 2004 and led efforts in online video and digital newscasts, and helped increase monthly unique visitors to the network’s site from 2 million per month four years ago to 15 million per month more recently, the magazine says. CBS has yet to name a replacement.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Daytime Emmys Close to Finding Home

The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences is currently entertaining Daytime Emmy Awards broadcast offers from two broadcast networks and two cable networks, the Hollywood Reporter says. Both ABC and CBS have opted out of the telecast, but a decision is expected to be announced before the end of the year, the trade says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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More Stars Join Lifetime ‘O’Keeffe’ Film

Four more actors have been cast in “Georgia O’Keeffe,” a Lifetime original biopic, the Hollywood Reporter says. New additions Ed Begley Jr., Linda Emond, Tyne Daly and Henry Simmons will join previously announced stars Joan Allen and Jeremy Irons in the film, which is expected to premiere in the third quarter of 2009, the trade says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Hallmark Working on Two Levinson Films

Hallmark Channel has greenlit two new original movies from executive producer Larry Levinson due in late 2009, the Hollywood Reporter says. Peter Strauss and Jonathan Silverman will star in “The Wilderness Family,” about a family that inherits a cabin in a forest. The other project, “The View From Here,” will star Angie Dickinson and Laura Leighton about a woman who comes to visit her mother only to reveal a plan against the town, the trade says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Heaton Tapped to Star in ABC’s ‘Middle’

ABC has greenlit “The Middle,” a comedy pilot, after landing Patricia Heaton for the lead, the Hollywood Reporter says. Julie Anne Robinson will direct the pilot, after also entering a blind commitment to direct another pilot during the current development cycle at ABC Studios, the trade says. Production on "The Middle" will begin in February.
—Sergio Ibarra

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FX Explores ‘AR2’ Drama Series

FX is developing new drama “AR2” from Paul Scheuring, creator and executive producer on “Prison Break,” and Thomas Schlamme, a director and executive producer of “The West Wing,” the Hollywood Reporter says. Scheuring describes the project as “'Les Miserables’ in modern America,” according to the trade. “AR2” will focus on college students and their revolt against authority while exploring both sides of the conflict, the Reporter says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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WWE Launches Social-Networking Site

World Wrestling Entertainment has launched a social-networking site, WWE Universe, aimed at fostering fan discussion on all things WWE-related, Daily Variety reports. More than 200,000 users have signed up for the site, which began testing last April. By drawing fans to one destination, WWE may capitalize on a central audience as opposed to having users scattered about in other social sites, the trade adds.
—Sergio Ibarra

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NCTA’s Anstrom to Step Down From Post

Decker Anstrom, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association board chairman, may step down from his post later this week, Broadcasting & Cable reports, citing unnamed executives in the cable industry. Anstrom’s departure comes as a result of NBC Universal’s recent acquisition of the Weather Channel, which he heads, the trade says. He will, however, retain his post atop Landmark Communications.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Ex-MSNBC Boss Abrams Recruits Journalists

Dan Abrams, whose time slot on MSNBC was given to Rachel Maddow, is tapping a corral of journalists as labor for a public relations consultancy he has set up, the Wall Street Journal reports. Mr. Abrams, who was chief at MSNBC for a short stint beginning in 2006, plans to continue working as an outside legal analyst for NBC News. Mr. Abrams touts journalists' expertise in the areas that the PR shop might be hired to work in, but one critic said having journalists moonlight as business consultants will degrade the profession's credibility, the Journal says.
—Greg Baumann

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Art Directors Guild Changes Award Rules

The Art Directors Guild changed some of the rules for its production design awards, Daily Variety reports. Two awards at the Feb. 14 event will be given for single-camera TV shows instead of one, while voting will be mostly tallied from Artdirectors.org, the newspaper says.
—Danny King

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TV Composer Gertz Dies at 93

Irving Gertz, who composed themes for television shows such as "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" and "Daniel Boone," died last week in Los Angeles at age 93, Daily Variety reports. Gertz also wrote scores for more than 200 films, including sci-fi titles "It Came From Outer Space" and "The Alligator People," the newspaper says.
—Danny King

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WNET to Build Lincoln Center Studio

Public-television station WNET will build a studio at New York's Lincoln Center, the Hollywood Reporter says. The studio, scheduled for completion next spring, will house programming for station WLIW21 as well as for Thirteen, the newspaper reports.
—Danny King

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Panel Differs Over TV Vs. Web Habits

A panel of IBM and Accenture executives said more U.S. viewers are getting their television content from the Internet because of more choices and dissatisfaction with traditional advertising practices on TV, Multichannel News reports. Meanwhile, executives at NBC and CBS said traditional TV viewership is stronger than ever, citing record Summer Olympics ratings, Multichannel News says.
—Danny King

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FCC Chief May Fine Comcast on DTV

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin said the agency may fine U.S. cable leader Comcast for failing to properly respond to questions about moving analog channels to digital tiers, Multichannel News reports. The FCC is looking into pricing practices of 13 cable operators, Multichannel News says.
—Danny King

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ESPN Must Face X Games Logo Suit

ESPN, the No. 1 sports cable channel, must face a suit by the Quicksilver Inc. clothing company that a logo for the network's international X Games competition violates a trademark, Bloomberg News reports. Quicksilver, which sued in June, established enough of a case that the suit can go forward, the court said. ESPN had counter sued, saying Quicksilver's X logo could cause consumer confusion.
&emdash;Greg Baumann

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Warner TV Promotes Jody Zucker

Warner Bros. Television promoted Jody Zucker to senior vice president and general counsel of the division’s legal affairs department, Broadcasting & Cable reports. Mr. Zucker has worked for Warners for eight years and has helped lead the company’s progress into digital content, including the launch of TheWB.com, B&C says.
—Danny King

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Diddy to Guest on ‘CSI: Miami’

Sean “Diddy” Combs will appear in two episodes of CBS drama “CSI: Miami,” the Associated Press reports. Mr. Combs, who will play a prosecutor who doesn’t get along with David Caruso’s character, likely will appear in mid to late winter, AP says.
—Danny King

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Tide Rises for Animal’s ‘Whale Wars’ (B&C)

Ratings for Animal Planet’s “Whale Wars” on Friday jumped 15% from a week earlier, giving the network its largest prime-time audience in a decade, Broadcasting & Cable reports. The series, in its second season, features a ship’s crew trying to prevent Japanese whaling ships from harming the mammals, B&C says.
—Danny King

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National Geographic Adds Games

National Geographic Channel will have a sister division that will spin off some of its programming into games to be produced by major video-game publishers, Multichannel News says. “Herod’s Lost Tomb,” based on the National Geographic series, will be launched as a downloadable game for personal computers and iPhones, Multichannel News says.
—Danny King

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Comcast Gives SF 12 HD Channels

Comcast will give customers in the San Francisco Bay Area 12 more high-definition channels, Multichannel News reports. Bravo, Cartoon Network, Fox News Channel and Hallmark are among channels that will get the HD treatment in the Bay Area, Multichannel News says.
—Danny King

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China TV Still Seeing Olympic Boost

Demand for advertising next year on China Central Television, the state-run television network, remains strong because of lingering effects of the Summer Olympics in Beijing, the Hollywood Reporter says. Despite the global economic downturn, the total bid for prime-time advertising spots is unlikely to decline substantially from the 80 billion yuan ($10.7 billion) bid for 2008 prime-time spots, the newspaper reports.
—Danny King

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Laura Linney a ‘Masterpiece’ on PBS

Laura Linney will host the PBS series “Masterpiece Classic” for the 2009 season, which launches Jan. 4 and runs through May, Daily Variety reports. Among the shows featured on the series will be versions of “Wuthering Heights” and “The Incomplete Charles Dickens,” the newspaper says.
—Danny King

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DTV PSAs Aimed at Multicultural Audiences

New public service announcements geared toward informing minority households about the upcoming national digital switchover are being promoted by the nation’s top cable operators, Multichannel News reports. The PSAs feature 21 members of the Congressional Asian Pacific Caucus, Black Caucus and Hispanic Caucus. Nielsen Media Research found in July that multicultural audiences, especially African American and Hispanic households, are the most unprepared for the Feb. 17 switch.
—Christopher Perez

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MLB.com Drops Microsoft for Adobe

MLB.com has dropped Microsoft’s Silverlight video platform in favor of Adobe Flash for its live and on-demand video services, Broadcasting & Cable reports. The two-year deal is another feather in Adobe’s online-video-cap; the company dominates the marketplace, with 81% of all online videos viewed using Adobe technology. Along with MLB.com’s MLB.tv live streaming service, Adobe will power MLB.com’s highlight and library video clips, B&C says.
—Christopher Perez

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Lifetime’s ‘Kissels’ Earns 3.3 Rating

The Saturday night premiere of “The Two Mr. Kissels,” a Lifetime original movie starring John Stamos and Robin Tunney, had 4.2 million total viewers, garnering a 3.3 household rating for the night, Multichannel News reports. The movie, based on the true story of two multimillionaire brothers who wind up dead, attracted 1.3 million women in the 18-49 demographic.
—Christopher Perez

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Cox, Discovery Top WICT Survey Lists

Cox Communications has been named the top cable-operator employer for women in a survey conducted by Women in Cable Telecommunications, Broadcasting & Cable reports. Discovery Communications was found to be the best cable-network employer of women. The Weather Channel Cos. came out on top in terms of pay equity while Cox Communications had the most advancement opportunities. WICT will honor the cable companies and networks during its annual dinner on Nov. 20.
—Christopher Perez

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Station GMs Announce Their Retirement

Two station general managers have announced their retirement. Sam Rosenwasser of CBS’ Tampa Bay, Fla., affiliate WTSP-TV will retire at the end of the year, the St. Petersburg Times reports. The Lexington Herald-Leader is reporting NBC’s Lexington, Ky., affiliate WLEX-TV also is saying goodbye to its GM, Tim Gilbert, who plans to retire at the end of February. “I don’t want to be someone who stays at the dance too long,” said Gilbert.
—Christopher Perez

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Anheuser’s Marketing Chief Retiring

After 26 years with the brewery giant, Anheuser-Busch’s VP of global media and sports marketing Tony Ponturo, one of the most powerful men in sports marketing, is retiring at the end of the year, the Wall Street Journal reports. Since 1990, Ponturo played a key role in Anheuser dominating marquee sports events including the Super Bowl, the Journal says. “I have had a great career at Anheuser-Busch,” Ponturo said in a statement. “The timing was right to move on to the next thing and new adventures.”
—Christopher Perez

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Young 3Q Revenue Flat

Young Broadcasting’s third-quarter net revenue fell $36.2 million, down .4% from the same time a year ago, Broadcasting & Cable reports. Operating expenses were also down, falling 6.1% from the same time in 2007. Young Broadcasting’s station operating performance for the quarter was up 12% at $11.6 million, B&C says.
—Christopher Perez

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Child Safe Viewing Act Goes Before Senate

The Child Safe Viewing Act, a bill requiring federal media regulators to study parent’s access to technologies that are capable of shielding minors from inappropriate content on TV and the Internet, is going before the Senate once again, Multichannel News reports. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., was “hotlined” by Senate leaders on Monday. “Hotlines” are typically reserved for bills expected to be passed quickly. “It’s been hotlined. We are optimistic, but it’s not a done deal,” said Pryor’s spokeswoman Lisa Ackerman.
—Christopher Perez

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There’s Life After News for Paula Zahn

The New York Daily News catches up with former CBS and CNN anchor Paula Zahn about her new gig hosting “Sunday Arts” on PBS’ New York affiliate, WNET-TV. “It’s a very different dynamic,” says Zahn about the show. “One of the great luxuries of doing long-form work is not compressing half-hour interviews into a three-minute spot.” Zahn also talked about not reporting on a presidential election for the first time in decades. “I got to be a viewer for the first time in many years,” she said.
—Christopher Perez

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Dalva Named MTV Networks’ VP of Content

MTV Networks Entertainment Group has named Eddie Dalva its senior VP of content, Daily Variety reports. Dalva’s new responsibilities include pursuing international content opportunities, programming enterprises and digital content partnerships. Dalva previously served as a consultant to Spike TV and TV Land, where he helped launch the original programs “DEA,” “Murder” and “Bullrun.”
—Christopher Perez

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Mark Cuban Turns Tables on SEC

Mark Cuban took to his blog to comment on insider trading accusations from the Securities and Exchange Commission, Broadcasting & Cable reports. Attorneys for Cuban say the HDNet chairman “intends to contest the allegations and to demonstrate that the Commission’s claims are infected by the misconduct of the staff of its Enforcement Division," the trade says. The SEC’s filing says Cuban avoided some $750,000 in losses by selling stock in Momma.com after receiving some inside information, TelevisionWeek reports.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Fremantle Eyes Original Productions Buy

FremantleMedia North America is looking to buy Original Productions, Thom Beers’ company responsible for many popular “blue collar hero” reality TV series, the Hollywood Reporter says. Fremantle has previously signed an international distribution deal with Original for several of the company’s properties. Speculation values the potential deal at under $100 million, the trade says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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SAG, AMPTP to Meet on Contract

Representatives of the Screen Actors Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers will meet officially for the first time since summer on Thursday, thought no promises are being made about the two finding a resolution to their contract dispute, the Hollywood Reporter says. Although the Guild may being taking steps toward calling a strike should a resolution not be found, some New York and regional leaders say the new media terms of the contract at the center of the disagreement are not bad enough to call a full strike, the trade says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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NBC’s Plestis May Head to Universal

NBC reality chief Craig Plestis could make his way to Universal Media Studios after reports that the network is looking for a replacement for his current job, TelevisionWeek reports. Earlier reports suggested BBC Worldwide America’s Paul Telegdy was being considered for the role, though no official changes have been executed. If he makes the jump to Universal, Plestis may oversee reality programming for the studio or become an independent producer, the magazine says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Baldwin to Appear on ‘Rosie Live’ Show

“30 Rock” Emmy-award winning actor Alec Baldwin will make an appearance in Rosie O’Donnell’s NBC variety special, TelevisionWeek reports. Baldwin joins previously announced guests Kathy Griffin, Ne-Yo and “30 Rock” co-star Jane Krakowski, the trade says. O’Donnell’s special debuts Nov. 26 at 8 p.m.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Rogen Brings Porn Genre to Showtime

Seth Rogen is teaming up with Showtime for a new porn-centric comedy, Daily Variety reports. Rogen, who stars in feature film "Zack and Miri Make a Porno," is developing the comedy with his production partner Evan Goldberg. Both will serve as executive producers for the show about a trio of friends who run a pornography store, the trade says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Cable Companies Team Up for DTV

Comcast, Time-Warner and Charter are teaming up with several legislators from Black, Hispanic and Asian Pacific caucuses for a series of public service announcements on the upcoming transition to digital television broadcasts, Broadcasting & Cable reports. The ads, targeted at minority groups, will remind people about the switch, in addition to assuring cable subscribers that they will not need to take additional action.
—Sergio Ibarra

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FCC Receives Cable DTV Reports

The FCC is continuing to review responses from cable operators regarding switching channels from analog to digital, though some companies have yet to submit their responses, including Comcast, Broadcasting & Cable reports. The government agency will continue to review information from companies before releasing any information regarding the survey, the trade says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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House Panel Holds on to FCC Report

The House Energy & Commerce Committee’s Oversight and Investigations group is expected to release the results of its recent FCC investigation sometime in the next 10 days, Broadcasting & Cable reports. There is no word yet if FCC chair Kevin Martin will be meeting with the committee to discuss the result before they go public, the trade says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Sundance, Whitaker Work on Newark Project

Sundance Channel is working on a new documentary series on Newark, N.J. from Forest Whitaker, the Hollywood Reporter says. The show, “Brick City,” will focus on the people responsible for the changes happening throughout the city as it tries to improve living conditions for residents. Whitaker will produce along with filmmakers Mark Benjamin and Marc Levin, the trade says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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NBC to Develop ‘Friends With Black People’

NBC is working on a new comedy based on Nick Adams’ book “Making Friends With Black People,” Daily Variety reports. The show will focus on two friends, one white and the other African-American, and their different points of views. Adams says the show hopes to capitalize on the nation’s attention to issues of race in light of Barack Obama’s presidential election win. Universal Media Studios and Industry Entertainment are behind the project, the trade says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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HBO Plans Sam Kinison Biopic

HBO has greenlighted a new original film based on the life and death of comedian Sam Kinison, Daily Variety reports. The film, “Brother Sam,” will be based on the memoirs “Brother Sam: The Short, Spectacular Life of Sam Kinison” by Kinison’s brother and manager Bill Kinison and Steve Delsohn. Dan Fogler has been cast to play the comic in the film, the trade says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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PepsiCo Shifts Ads to TBWA/Chiat/Day

PepsiCo is shifting its advertising creative accounts from BBDO Worldwide, an Omnicom unit, to TBWA/Chiat/Day, another Omnicom business, the New York Times reports. BBDO collaborated with PepsiCo to create ad campaigns including "The Choice of a New Generation" and "The Joy of Pepsi." TBWA/Chiat/Day is developing ads for next year, though responsibility for creating Super Bowl television spots hasn't been assigned yet, the New York Times says.
—Greg Baumann

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IFC Media Project Critiques TV News

A new series on the Independent Film Channel, "The IFC Media Project," debuts tonight and will focus on declining news standards on television, the New York Times reports. Hosted by Gideon Yago, a veteran of MTV News and contributor to CBS News, the show will translate some of the critiques of the news business that have appeared online to the small screen, the New York Times says.
—Greg Baumann

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Yang Steps Down as Yahoo CEO

Yahoo announced Monday that co-founder Jerry Yang will step down as CEO, Mediapost reports, and return to his former role as Chief Yahoo upon the appointment of his successor. The Yahoo board of directors has initiated a search for a replacement. Yang became CEO in June 2007 and has overseen Yahoo's strategic repositioning and transformation of its platform. Chairman Roy Bostock, with the directors and the search firm Heidrick & Struggles, will lead the search for a new CEO, Mediapost says.

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Miley Cyrus Sings on ‘Dancing’ Finale

“Hannah Montana” star Miley Cyrus will perform on the Nov. 25 season finale of ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars,” TV Guide reports. Cyrus will perform her single “Fly on the Wall” during the two-hour finale. Cyrus’ “Montana” co-star Cody Linley is currently one of the competitors on the reality hit.
—Christohper Perez

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Murdoch’s Political Leanings Questioned

Is News Corp. Chairman-CEO Rupert Murdoch losing his conservative zeal? Say it ain’t so! The New York Times reports how positive, albeit very recent, coverage of Barack Obama in the New York Post has led many to believe the architect of a conservative-leaning media empire that includes the Post, the Wall Street Journal and Fox News Channel has softened. “He influences political coverage, as directly as you can possibly get at the Post,” says Michael Wolff, a writer who was given access to Mr. Murdoch for a book.
—Christopher Perez

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Emanuel Roasts Colbert at Charity Event

Future White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel took time out from the transitioning of administrations Friday evening to roast Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert at an event benefiting the Spina Bifida Association founded by PBS’ Judy Woodruff, the Huffington Post reports. “Stephen is a guy who knows that no matter how smart or successful he is, he’ll always play second fiddle to Jon Stewart,” Emanuel said.
—Christopher Perez

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E.D. Hill Leaving FNC

Fox News Channel has decided not to renew the contract of E.D. Hill, its anchor for more than a decade, TVNewser reports. A former co-host of its morning show, “Fox & Friends,” Hill, who made headlines this year when she called Barack and Michelle Obama’s congratulatory fist bump a “terrorist fist jab,” hasn’t had a regular program since her “America’s Pulse” was replaced with “Live Desk” in June. “We wish her all the best,” senior VP of programming Bill Shine told TVNewser.
—Christopher Perez

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GE’s Immelt Plans to Acquire More Media

Despite the current economy, General Electric is still confident in its media business, with CEO Jeffrey Immelt declaring his interest in buying media assets during an interview with the Financial Times. Immelt says he plans to capitalize on bargains during the downturn. “There are going to be some opportunities on media consolidation, in infrastructure, oil and gas, aviation,” Immelt said. “And my hope is that we can play in some of those as time goes on.”
—Christopher Perez

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‘Borat’ Star Cohen Crashes ‘Medium’

“Borat” actor Sacha Baron Cohen recently disrupted a production of NBC’s “Medium” while disguised as his fashion-reporter character Bruno, Entertainment Weekly reports. Production was temporarily shut down when Cohen, in character, repeatedly interrupted a tense court room scene with series star Patricia Arquette. Cohen has been filming his feature film “Bruno: Delicious Journeys Through America for the Purpose of Making Heterosexual Males Visibly Uncomfortable in the Presence of a Gay Foreigner in a Mesh T-Shirt,” for the past several months. Recently, Bruno has crashed fashion weeks in Milan and Paris and a gay marriage ban rally in California.
—Christopher Perez

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Hulu to Eclipse YouTube in Sales

Research firm Screen Digest expects Hulu to surpass YouTube in advertising revenue next year, the Financial Times reports. This year, YouTube is expected to generate $30 million more domestically than the NBC Universal-News Corp. upstart. Next year, however, both companies are expected to take in about $180 million. “YouTube is in a very tough place right now,” says Screen Digest analyst Arash Armel. “Most of that user-generated content is worthless or illegal. The next 18 months will determine whether or not it was just an expensive mistake for Google.”
—Christopher Perez

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New Features Broaden DriverTV’s Web Presence

DriverTV, a distributor of promotional videos designed to get cars off the lot and into your driveway, has unveiled a new content-distribution network, Advertising Age reports. With the new network, small and mid-sized Web publishers can choose to showcase DriverTV content on their Web sites. The content is pre-packaged and comes complete with video clips and display ads, with both entities dividing any associated ad revenue.
—Christopher Perez

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WGAW May File False Arrest Suit

Writers Guild of America West is considering taking legal action against Los Angeles’ Hollywood & Highland commercial complex over the arrest of three of its staffers on Thursday during “American Idol” auditions at the location, Deadline Hollywood Daily reports. The WGA staffers were passing out leaflets to the public about how “Idol” producer FremantleMedia treats its writers when they were “arrested” by security, who then turned them over to the Los Angeles Police Department. WGAW maintains that its members were within their rights to distribute the leaflets and may file a false arrest lawsuit against Hollywood & Highland.
—Christopher Perez

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Huffington, NBC News Reconciling?

TVNewser is just as confused as everyone with the news of Arianna Huffington’s guest hosting gig tonight on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” given Huffington’s testy relationship with NBC News and its late senior VP and “Meet the Press” anchor Tim Russert. Huffington’s political blog The Huffington Post featured a “Russert Watch” to track Russert’s “softball” questioning of politicians and just last April there were questions of whether or not Russert kept Huffington off NBC’s networks during her book tour. Apparently it’s all water under the bridge between NBC and Huffington. “We’re thrilled to have Arianna filling in for Rachel tonight,” an MSNBC spokesperson tells TVNewser.
—Christopher Perez

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‘Jungle’ Isn’t Canceled, Shields Says

Brooke Shields tells Us Magazine that her show, NBC’s “Lipstick Jungle,” isn’t canceled despite reports to the contrary. “Our bosses are saying, ‘You’re not canceled, don’t worry,’” says Shields. “We’re just trying to figure out how to make this make sense.” Apparently the show is a victim of DVR time shifting. “They just need to figure out how to reconcile advertisers’ money because the advertisers don’t want you fast forwarding commercials.”
—Christopher Perez

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Domino’s Pizza Now Available Via TiVo

TiVo is partnering with Domino’s Pizza to give its subscribers the opportunity to finally order pizza from their remote controls, Advertising Age reports. TiVo customers simply have to click “I want it” from their TV remote when they see the Domino’s ad and in 30 minutes the pizza should be at their door. Subscribers will be able to enter their delivery address and select crust and sauce type through their TV as well, Adveritsing Age says.
—Christopher Perez

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Economy Takes Toll on Online Video

Online video is showing signs that it, too, is being affected by today’s economy, Mediaweek reports. Web production firms 60Frames and Revision3, branded video site Break.com and Web video aggregator Veoh have all had layoffs, as reported earlier on TVWeek.com. This news, along with several high profile original Web series disappointing recently, could just be the tip of the iceberg with many predicting further casualties as venture capital and ad support are likely to become constrained by the recession, Mediaweek says.
—Christopher Perez

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NBCU Planning Global Growth for Hulu

NBC Universal plans to take its online video venture with News Corp., Hulu.com, global, the Hollywood Reporter says. Speaking at a summit in London, NBCU International President Pete Smith said the company plans to expand Hulu to Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Japan. Smith also disclosed NBC’s goal of growing its international channel footprint from 65 to 100 within the next three years and that it plans to acquire an unnamed Russian production outfit.
—Christopher Perez

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Bolt’s Everywhere on ABC

Entertainment Weekly has had enough of the ubiquitous animated dog Bolt popping up at the end of ABC Studios-produced series. The star of the upcoming feature film “Bolt,” produced by Disney’s movie studio, is being cross-promoted to such an extent that the magazine writes, “The way the networks are pushing product these days, it wouldn’t have surprised me if Bolt had been a central figure in the nightclub fire rescue on last night’s ‘Desperate Housewives.’”
—Christopher Perez

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Obama a Cash Cow for Media

The Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz talks about the media cashing-in on Barack Obama’s historic election win and his upcoming presidency. Kurtz cites NBC’s upcoming DVD, “Yes We Can: The Barack Obama Story,” upcoming books on the election from ABC and USA Today and HBO’s documentary on his campaign as examples of the media striking while Obama’s still hot. “What’s troubling here goes beyond the clanging of cash registers,” he writes. “Media outlets have always tried to make a few bucks off the next big thing…But we seem to have crossed a cultural line into mythmaking.”
—Christopher Perez

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Online Video Growth Doubles

A new study by the IBM Institute for Business Value has found the rate of growth of most forms of digital content services, especially social networks and online video, has more than doubled from a year ago, MediaPost reports. An online survey conducted among 2,800 people in six countries found that 60% of respondents used social networking. More than three-quarters of respondents had also watched an online video, up 27% from the year before.
—Christopher Perez

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Can Rosie Bring Back Variety Shows?

With a special set to air on NBC later this month, Rosie O'Donnell is leading an effort to bring the variety show back to television, TelevisionWeek says. "Whether you love her or not, you're interested in seeing what's going to happen when she's on TV," NBC Entertainment co-chairman Ben Silverman tells TVWeek. “She’s just a great live performer." Fox is getting ready to air its own variety specials with Ozzy Osbourne and family early next year.
—Jon Lafayette

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Fox Eager for Return of '24'

Fox is trying to restore "24" to its hit status with a two-hour movie this Sunday before season seven starts in January, USA Today reports. The network is battling a long delay caused by the writers strike and poor reviews for the series' previous season. "This is a legacy show, a cornerstone show for the network," Fox chairman Peter Liguori tells the paper. "Getting '24' back as relevant as possible is critical to the launch of the show."
—Jon Lafayette

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Stars Say Goodbye to 'TRL'

MTV shot the last episode of "TRL" Sunday and stars including Justin Timberlake, Beyonce Knowles, Diddy and Kid Rock showed up to pay their respects, the New York Times says. The show has been losing viewers since 2000 and MTV has been moving music video programming to the Web, the paper says.
—Jon Lafayette

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Profitable Oxygen Developing Series

A year after being acquired by NBC Universal, Oxygen Media is looking to pump up its programming with shows including "Naughty Kitchen" and "The Girls" in development, TelevisionWeek reports. Under NBC Universal, the network has cut cost added distribution and pumped up its profits, TVWeek says.
—Jon Lafayette

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'NCIS' Finds Secret of Continued Growth

CBS' "NCIS," an often overlooked hit show, is bucking the odds by continuing to grow in its sixth season on the air, the Los Angeles Times says. "NCIS" "probably has not lost many of its core viewers over time," Steve Sternberg of media buyer Magna Global, tells the paper. "There is a small central cast and close-ended story lines. This makes it easier for new viewers to tune in and figure out what's going on."
—Jon Lafayette

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Joan Cusack Working on NBC, Lifetime Projects

Joan Cusack is developing a new psychiatry-themed comedy with NBC and Universal Media Studios, the Hollywood Reporter says. She will serve as producer along with John Markus of "The Larry Sanders Show." Cusack is also set to star in an upcoming Lifetime original film "Acceptance," the trade paper adds.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Chris Moynihan to Pen Two NBC Projects

Chris Moynihan is developing two projects for NBC, including a comedy inspired by Criss Angel's life, Daily Variety reports. Moynihan will write the script for the project, originally conceived by magician Angel and producers Dave Baram, Adam Shulman and Jason Verona. Moynihan also serves as writer for "100 Questions for Charlotte Payne," about a New York woman's life as framed by 100 questions in a dating service.
—Sergio Ibarra

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TV Networks Buying Fewer Pilots

One sign that the state of the economy is affecting the television business is that networks are buying fewer pilots, the New York Post says. "It's the toughest development season I've ever seen," ICM President Chris Silbermann tells the paper.
—Jon Lafayette

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Univision Reports Larger 3Q Loss

Univision said its third-quarter net loss grew to $2.87 million from $26,8000 a year ago, according to Dow Jones. Revenues dropped to $511 million from $524 million, the wire service says, citing Securities & Exchange Commission documents.
—Jon Lafayette

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Sports Feels Economy Pinch

The sports market is feeling the effects of tough economic times, Mediaweek reports. Networks are finding it harder to sell ads in some late seasons NFL games and NASCAR races, the paper says, and some buyers estimate fourth quarter sales could be down as much as 15%.
—Jon Lafayette

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Rather Keeps Digging Into CBS Lawsuit

Former anchorman Dan Rather continues to spend time and money on his lawsuit against former employer CBS News, the New York Times reports. One thing he's discovered: CBS was making sure that the investigation of his controversial story about George Bush’s military record was being handled by someone acceptable to the Republican party, the paper says.
—Jon Lafayette

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Wrestler Flair, NFL's Taylor Seek Reality Fame

Former pro wrestling superstar Ric Flair and NFL legend Lawrence Taylor are pitching reality shows, Broadcasting & Cable reports. "It is easy to sit here and say how pathetic either would be: just another former star trying to hang on to some limelight," B&C says. But "if I am a programmer at a cable network looking to break through, I'd probably be the first to take a long, hard look at either of the guilty pleasures in the making with these guys' names attached."
—Jon Lafayette

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Small Step Towards Addressable Ads

A deal between Dish Network and advertising technology company Invidi is a small step toward creating television ads that can be addressed specifically to consumers interested in the products or services being pitched, Advertising Age says. Addressable advertising could mean “the renaissance of the TV business," ad buyer Rino Scanzoni tells the trade paper.
—Jon Lafayette

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CW Picks Reality Chief

The CW is expected to name Kristen Connolly Vadas as senior VP of alternative programming, TelevisionWeek reports. Ms. Vadas had been with Oxygen, where she was a West Coast based VP of development.
—Jon Lafayette

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Dennehy Joins TNT’s 'Bunker Hill'

Brian Dennehy will co-star opposite Donnie Wahlberg in the upcoming TNT pilot "Bunker Hill," the Hollywood Reporter says. In the drama Dennehy will portray a flower shop owner with connections to a mob boss. CBS' comedy pilot "The Kareskys" has also added Mather Zickel and Rodd Stashwick to the cast, the trade paper says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Parker Latest in ESPN Campaign

Candace Parker of the WNBA is the latest athlete to be featured in ESPN's long-running promo campaign for "SportsCenter," the Los Angeles Times says. There have been 325 spots since 1995 and only a handful have featured women athletes.
—Jon Lafayette

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Maloof Talks Reality

The youngest brother of the Maloof family, Phil, talks with the Los Angeles Times about "Living Lohan," a reality series featuring Maloof Music client Ali Lohan shot at Maloof family casino the Palms. The Maloofs are getting further into television by forming a partnership with Mark Burnett and producing a show about the Sacramento Kings basketball team.
—Jon Lafayette

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‘Criminal Minds,’ ‘Numb3rs’ to Enter Syndication

CBS Television Distribution is setting up "Criminal Minds" and "Numb3rs" for syndication in late fringe beginning in 2010, Broadcasting & Cable reports. The two shows were pitched as replacements for “CSI: New York” and “CSI: Miami,” which will move exclusively to cable. Involved are the CBS-owned stations, plus other stations owned by Gannett, Meredith, Belo, LIN and Cox, the trade publication says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Cable News, the Post Election Edition

Here's another look at what will happen to the cable news outlets now that the election is over, this one from the New York Times. "The administration has changed, but the politics haven’t," the paper quotes an ad executive as saying. "The liberal and conservative commentators who dominate each news network will have to invert their roles."
—Jon Lafayette

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Curry Struggling Up Kilimanjaro

Getting to the ends of the earth isn't as easy as it might look on television. Ann Curry, who climbed Mount Kilimanjaro as part of the "Today" show's "Ends of the Earth" feature, told the Associated Press she didn't think she would make it to the top. "This is like climbing a Stairmaster for six hours a day with 20 pounds on your back," Curry tells the wire service.
—Jon Lafayette

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Media Cos. Donate to Laptop Project

News Corp., CBS and Time Warner are donating media time to the nonprofit One Laptop Per Child organization which is providing computers to kids in developing nations, the New York Times reports.
—Jon Lafayette

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TV Talent Working Overtime to Help Sponsors

Daily Variety takes a look at the recent trend of television anchors and actors doubling as pitchmen of products ranging from cars to food. Sometimes the pitches aren’t even done during commercial breaks, either, but during program airtime. The paper cites Lara Spencer, of the syndicated entertainment news show “The Insider,” shilling for Bertolli during CBS’ prime-time schedule while Fox NFL analysts Michael Strahan and Terry Bradshaw took a break from the game to demonstrate the legroom and capacity of a Ford truck as examples.
—Christopher Perez

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Child Stars Find Jump to Adult Projects Tricky

“Cheetah Girls” actress Adrienne Bailon is among the many child actors trying to make the leap from kids’ fare to the big leagues. The method she tried to help her make that transition probably wasn’t the smartest decision she’s ever made, Advertising Age reports. The 25-year-old Bailon apparently reported her laptop stolen at New York’s JFK Airport, complete with nude photographs of the actress. The theft never happened, and after publicist Jonathan Jaxson “leaked” the photos to the press, all the actress was offered was $100,000 to pose in Playboy. “This feels like a colossal miscalculation on somebody’s part, a big mistake,” said “Lizzie McGuire” creator Stan Rogow, who also serves as manager to “High School Musical” co-star Corbin Bleu.
—Christopher Perez

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Kring Expected at ‘Heroes’ Panel Tomorrow

“Heroes” creator Tim Kring will attend tomorrow’s Screenwriting Expo in Los Angeles after all, Daily Variety reports. Recently fired writers Jesse Alexander and Jeph Loeb won’t be attending as earlier reported. As of Thursday night, Kring was all for Alexander and Loeb attending, until producer Universal Media Studios stepped in, the paper says. An organizer tells Daily Variety, “We do appreciate that someone from ‘Heroes’ will be coming down and keeping the panel alive.”
—Christopher Perez

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ABC’s Sawyer Interviewing Ashley Dupre

ABC News’ Diane Sawyer has scored an exclusive interview with former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s mistress, Ashley Dupre, TVNewser reports. The interview will air next week on ABC’s “20/20,” TVNewser says. “This is not the Eliot Spitzer story. This is the Ashley Dupre story,” an ABC News insider tells the Web site about the upcoming sit-down.
—Christopher Perez

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NBC Gets Dance Show of Its Own

Given the success of Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance” and ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars,” NBC is getting in the dance competition series game with a new show of its own, the Hollywood Reporter says. Nigel Lythgoe and Simon Fuller, the team behind “So You Think” and “American Idol,” will executive produce the yet-to-be-titled show. Michael Flatley, the “Lord of the Dance,” has signed on to host.
—Christoher Perez

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HBO Makes Katherine Graham Biopic

HBO is currently developing a biopic about former Washington Post publisher Katherine Graham, the Hollywood Reporter says. Graham oversaw the paper’s Watergate coverage, which lead to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. The script is being written by Joan Didion and will follow Graham’s career as she rose to the top spot at the Washington Post. Laura Linney is in talks to play Graham.
—Christopher Perez

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‘60 Minutes’’ Kroft Dissects Obama Get

Correspondent Steve Kroft talks to TVNewser about how “60 Minutes” managed to score Barack Obama’s first interview as president-elect. “We went and started working on a profile before he declared his candidacy,” Kroft tells TVNewser. “I can remember the first time we went to the Obama house, the little girls answered the door. It’s not like that now.”
—Christopher Perez

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Discovery Signs On as TRAnaytics Client

Discovery Communications has signed on as a client of TRA’s Media TRAnalytics, the 370,000 household, single-source database that matches second-by-second information from home set-top boxes to actual product purchases, DMNews reports. “What TRA has is really interesting for us and our clients and also unique at this point,” Discovery Communications senior VP Beth Rockwood tells the DMNews. “It is, to the best of my knowledge, the only real, true single-source offering that’s available right now.”
—Christopher Perez

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New ‘SNL’ Castings a Real Snoozefest

Apparently you can break barriers at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue but not at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Entertainment Weekly discusses the ho-hum selection of Abby Elliott and Michaela Watkins to the cast of “Saturday Night Live,” which leaves them curious as to who will play newly elected president Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle. “Are we really supposed to believe that in the two years the Obamas have been in the national spotlight ‘SNL’ hasn’t been able to find actors of color who can portray them—in addition to being funny and versatile on the rest of the show?” EW asks.
—Christopher Perez

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Rudolph Making ‘Kath & Kim’ Cameo

“Saturday Night Live” alum Maya Rudolph will make an appearance on NBC’s “Kath & Kim,” TV Guide reports. Rudolph will play a spiritual guide who helps Phil, played by John Michael Higgins, to lose weight. Rudolph’s character also becomes a bit of a “girl crush” to Kath, played by Molly Shannon, TV Guide says.
—Christopher Perez

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MSNBC’s Abrams to Make Film Cameo

MSNBC’s Dan Abrams will make a cameo as himself in a new film that lifts heavily from the Valerie Plame-Judith Miller saga titled “Nothing But the Truth,” Portfolio reports. Abrams joins an all-star cast that includes Kate Beckinsale, Matt Dillon, Alan Alda, Angela Bassett and Noah Wyle in the fictionalized take on the news story. Abrams’ father, esteemed First Amendment attorney Floyd Abrams, has an extensive role in the film, the Web site says. About his role, Abrams says, “Let’s just say that at one point Matt Dillon exclaims, ‘Turn that guy off!’”
—Christopher Perez

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Cable Fights Pole Price Hike in Letter to FCC

Cable operators issued a letter to the Federal Communications Commission asking the commission not to establish a uniform price for attaching to utility poles, Broadcasting & Cable says. In the letter, cable operators said broadband providers should pay the same rate to attach to poles as cable operators do. Phone companies want cable operators’ rates to increase because they offer both broadband and cable service, B&C says.
—Christopher Perez

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Comcast to Purchase S.F. Area Utility

Comcast Corp. has put in the successful bid to buy the San Francisco Bay Area’s Alameda Power & Telecom, Multichannel News reports. Comcast will pay $15 million for the system, which has 9,500 video customers and 6,600 data customers in the community east of San Francisco, Multichannel says. Ninety-five percent of the cable operation’s note holders have agreed to the system’s sale, according to the utility’s Web site.
—Christopher Perez

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John Mayer Is FNC’s Kelly’s ‘Biggest Fan’

Fox News Channel’s “America’s Newsroom” co-host Megyn Kelly’s biggest fan is none other than singer-songwriter John Mayer, TVNewser reports. At a recent event, Mayer told Kelly via the FNC cameras, “I love the Kathleen Turner circa 1989 rasp. I love your perfect facial symmetry.” Kelly responded this morning on “America’s Newsroom” by saying, “My husband, Doug, said I was just a little too enthusiastic about that news. I think we should double with John and Jennifer [Aniston].”
—Christopher Perez

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Hallmark Offers Free Turkey for the Holidays

To promote its six original holiday movies this season, Hallmark Channel is teaming up with its local ad sales affiliates by giving away a free trip to Turkey, Multichannel News reports. The six-day/five-night Istanbul excursion includes roundtrip airfare, hotel accommodations, guided tours to an array of historical and cultural venues and some meals, Multichannel says. “Affiliate executives are hit with promos all the time, but this one really helped us cut through the clutter,” said Hallmark Channel Senior Director of Affiliate Ad Sales Rita Caprino.
—Christopher

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‘Lost’ Promo to Debut New Song From the Fray

A minute-long promo for ABC’s “Lost,” to be aired during next week’s “Grey’s Anatomy” episode, will feature a new song from rock band the Fray, the Hollywood Reporter says. The promo, which will feature not only the track but parts of the music video, will direct viewers to ABC.com where they can find a three-minute version of the video as well as a link to iTunes where they can buy the single, a day before it hits radio.
—Christopher Perez

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‘Mother’ Gets Visit from ‘Girls Next Door’

Kendra Wilkinson joins Kim Kardashian, Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt as one of the drama-afflicted celebrities gracing the cover of fictional magazine Them Weekly on an upcoming episode of CBS’ “How I Met Your Mother,” TV Guide reports. A photo of Wilkinson, one-third of E!’s “The Girls Next Door,” apparently comes to life and talks to “Mother’s” Jason Segal as he reads his tabloid of choice.
—Christopher Perez

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YES Network Debuts Business Special Tonight

“Forbes SportsMoney,” a special examining some of sports’ business aspects, bows tonight on the Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network, Multichannel News reports. The half-hour special, which starts at 10:30 p.m. ET, will be hosted by YES host Bob Lorenz and Forbes national editor Michael Ozanian. Investment bank and advisory firm Galatioto Sports Partners’ Sal Galatioto is scheduled to be interviewed.
—Christopher Perez

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Cooper Talks Holograms on ‘Tonight Show’

Anderson Cooper visited “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” last night and talked about, amongst many things, his love for Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” his upcoming awards show “CNN Heroes” and those darned CNN Election Night holograms, TVNewser reports. “Thankfully now we have this hologram, so I’m hoping we’re just going to get rid of them all and just have the hologram,” he tells Leno, referring to the large number of analysts the cable news network had on for its election coverage.
—Christopher Perez

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Chase to Receive PGA Award

The Producers Guild of America is honoring “The Sopranos” creator David Chase with its Norman Lear Achievement in Television Award, Daily Variety reports. The award will be presented at the 20th annual PGA Awards Jan. 24 at the Hollywood Palladium. Chase’s other TV credits include “Northern Exposure,” “I’ll Fly Away” and “The Rockford Files.”
—Christopher Perez

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Obama Plans to Take Radio Address Online

President-elect Barack Obama plans to take the Democrats’ traditional weekly radio address to the Web beginning this week, Broadcasting & Cable reports. Obama plans to record the weekly address Fridays on video and audio, which will be posted on the Change.gov Web site by Saturday. Obama will continue this practice once he’s in the White House as well, Obama’s transition team says.
—Christopher Perez

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Telecom Industry Likely to Change Under Obama

The Federal Communications Commission under Barack Obama as president is expected to be more influential than ever, according to high-tech leaders and analysts, the Washington Post reports. Promises made by the president-elect of an “open Internet” could change the telecommunications industry as we know it today. “There is going to be a sea-change,” says Martha Corbett, a partner at technology public relations firm Qorvis. “Technology has been primarily ignored by the Bush administration, but Obama from the beginning made it a central part of his push for change.”
—Christopher Perez

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‘Meet the Press’ Takes Web Video on the Road

NBC’s “Meet the Press” has launched an online feature offering a behind-the-scenes look at the show’s road trips during the election, TVNewser reports. Three vignettes from stops in Denver, Waterloo, Iowa, and Columbia, S.C., contain interviews with Sens. John McCain and Hillary Clinton and “Meet the Press” luminaries Tom Brokaw, Betty Fischer and the late Tim Russert.
—Christopher Perez

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CBS Is No. 1 Network in Viewers

According to data from Nielsen Media Research, CBS is the most-watched network midway through the November sweeps, Mediaweek reports. The network is ahead of its closest competitor, ABC, by 470,000 total viewers. Among younger adults, however, ABC comes out on top. ABC has the most viewers among adults 18-49 and 25-54 and is tied with NBC for adults 18-34, the data shows.
—Christopher Perez

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Lawmaker to Propose Web Neutrality Bill

Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., plans to propose a bill in January that would prohibit Internet providers from blocking Web content, Reuters reports. Sen. Dorgan believes the law would be essential in preventing telephone and cable companies from discriminating against Internet content, Reuters says. “We feel that legislation is definitely necessary,” said Frannie Wellings, the senator’s telecom counsel, at a University of Nebraska law school event on changes in telecom law after the election of Barack Obama as president.
—Christopher Perez

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Anderson to Guest on ‘Kath & Kim’

TV-veteran Pamela Anderson will make a cameo appearance as herself on an upcoming episode of NBC’s “Kath & Kim,” TV Guide reports. TV Guide writes there’s no actress who better personifies the celebrity culture in which the show’s mother-and-daughter protagonists, played by Molly Shannon and Selma Blair, so actively participate.
—Christopher Perez

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Chernin Ponders Moving on From News Corp.

News Corp. President-Chief Operating Officer Peter Chernin is contemplating leaving the company, the Los Angeles Times reports. Those close to the executive hint that if Chernin does extend his contract, which expires in June, it’ll be for two or three years. The paper writes News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch values Chernin but that the 57-year-old executive wants to move on to something new “before he turns 60.”
—Christopher Perez

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Boston Plans December DTV Test

Boston’s TV stations have scheduled a five-minute DTV test for Dec. 9, the Boston Globe reports. The soft shutdown is designed to let viewers know whether their TV sets are compatible with digital broadcasts in preparation for the national switch from analog to digital format on Feb. 17. Those ready for the switch during the test will receive a message telling them they’re ready, and those who aren’t will get a message telling viewers how to get ready for the February deadline, the newspaper says.
—Christopher Perez

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Sammy Gang Dies at 89

Sammy Gang, a Hearst Entertainment executive who spent four decades in the international TV business, died of heart failure Nov. 1 at the age of 89, the Hollywood Reporter says. Gang started selling for National Telefilm Associates in 1953. From there he worked at RKO and ITC International until forming his own company, Global Television Enterprise. From that venture he joined King Features Entertainment, which became Hearst in 1982, and stayed with the company until his retirement in 1993.
—Christopher Perez

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GM Gets Canceled with 'Enemy'

When NBC canceled "My Own Worst Enemy," it also ended a product integration ballyhooed by the network and General Motors, the New York Times reports. On the series, Christian Slater's character had two personalities. One drove a flashy Camaro convertible, the other a more family friendly Traverse sport utility vehicle. GM expressed no regrets. A spokeswoman told the paper "we continue to look for great opportunities, ideas and partnerships within the larger entertainment business."
—Jon Lafayette

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Mazda Goes Live on Letterman

David Letterman's "Late Show" on CBS joined the trend of "live" commercials Thursday night. Just before the nightly "Top 10 List," Letterman presented a "special message from Mazda." A video featured announcer Alan Kalter showing off a Mazda 6 outside the Ed Sullivan Theater. The bit ended, as many of Kalter's do, with him being beaten up by the Mazda's owner. Afterwards, Letterman assured viewers Kalter was OK, and threw to a normal commercial break. Advertisers are looking for ways to keep viewers from fast forwarding or changing channels during commercial breaks and "live" ads and messages that feature members of a program's cast are two tactics from the medium's olden days again being offered by networks. Later in the show, guest Bruce Willis pulled keys to a Saturn from inside a turkey he was preparing to cook. That probably wasn't a product placement.
—Jon Lafayette

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Hilary Duff Signs NBC Deal

Tween actress and singer Hilary Duff has signed a development deal with NBC, Daily Variety reports. Under the contract Duff will work on a show in which she will star in addition to serving as guest talent on other NBC programs. Universal Media Studios will produce any potential new project, Variety says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Fox, NBC Partner on Local News Service

Fox and NBC are forming a local news service that would shoot video of some events that would be shared by both networks' stations and other local media outlets, TelevisionWeek reports. The object is to reduce costs and free staff to create signature stories and investigative reporting, the companies say. The service will start in January in Philadelphia. Future markets include Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Dallas and Washington, D.C.
—Jon Lafayette

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ESPN Kills Ads With Crude Stereotypes

ESPN cancelled plans for a college basketball ad campaign featuring actors depicting offensive characterizations of students at specific colleges, USA Today reports. An ad agency working for ESPN was casting spots and looking for a slutty girl to play a Tennessee student and an Asian who’s always fighting as its Notre Damer. "Our marketing department just learned of this casting call," said an ESPN spokesman. "The language and approach reflected in that document were not approved by us and in no way represent ESPN or the respect we have for the college community."
—Jon Lafayette

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Comcast May Get Competition in Philly

RCN might be looking to take a run at Comcast's home town, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The company says serving towns on the outskirts of the city already make Philadelphia one of its fastest growing markets. RCN was denied a franchise in Philadelphia 10 year ago, and would still need one to provide services. Meanwhile Verizon said it had negotiated a deal with the city to offer its FiOS service in the City of Brotherly Love, increasing the pressure on the nation’s No. 1 cable operator, according to the Inquirer.
—Jon Lafayette

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SAG Talks May Resume

Following weeks of slow-paced shuttle diplomacy by Federal mediator Juan Carlos Gonzalez, the Screen Actors Guild might resume contract talks with producers as early as next week, Daily Variety says. Negotiations broke off July 16. Neither said had a comment, the trade paper says.
—Jon Lafayette

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'Daisies' Creator Awaits Call from ABC

"Pushing Daisies" has been the subject of numerous reports it has been canceled, but its creator, Bryan Fuller, tells the Los Angeles Times he hasn't heard official word from ABC one way or another. Other low-rated shows are also awaiting network decisions about their future, the paper says. The situation can be frustrating. "It's tough but spirits have been really good on the set," Fuller tells the paper. "There's such a dedication with the cast and crew. It's infectious and we're hoping ABC gets infected by that dedication."
—Jon Lafayette

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Happy People Watch Less TV

A new study concludes that happy people watch less TV and have more sex than unhappy people, TV by the Numbers reports. TV provides some short-term pleasure, but comes at the expense of other things. “What viewers seem to be saying is that while TV in general is a waste of time and not particularly enjoyable, the shows I saw tonight were pretty good,” the Web site quotes the study as saying.
—Jon Lafayette

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Meow Mix Show on GSN 'Embarrassing'

The New York Times calls a new quiz show on GSN sponsored by Meow Mix "one of the most embarrassing half-hours in the history of television" and "a lame attempt to use game-show trapping to disguise what is nothing more than a lengthy cat food commercial." On "The Meow Mix Think Like a Cat Game," the contestants (cat owners) are bland and the cats themselves appear devoid of personality, the paper says.
—Jon Lafayette

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Marvel to Create 'Thor' Animated Series

Marvel Animation is working on a new animated TV series based on the upcoming "Thor" theatrical release, the Hollywood Reporter says. Marvel will self-produce the 26-episode series and plans on debuting the show in the fall of 2010 after the big-screen version makes its theater run earlier in that year, the trade paper says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Martin to Yank on Cable Till the End

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin is expected to continue to push rules opposed by cable operators until he's replaced by President-elect Barack Obama, according to Bloomberg. Possible actions range from loosening cable's hold on sports programming to raising the price for attaching lines to utility poles, Bloomberg says.
—Jon Lafayette

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Sweep Stunts Don't Measure Up

New York newscasts aren't doing sweep stunts the way they used to. Or the way they're still being done in Los Angeles, the New York Daily News says. The lowest sweeps story in New York was WCBS-TV's about undergarments that hide fat spots, but it couldn't hold a candle to one about personal grooming for women on L.A.'s KPIX-TV, the paper says. "In about four minutes, New York stations lost bragging rights to having the sleaziest sweeps pieces--which isn't a bad thing," the Daily News says.
—Jon Lafayette

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De Nardis Named CEO at OMD

Former Aegis Media CEO Mainardo de Nardis was named CEO of media agency OMD Worldwide, filling a vacancy left by Joe Uva, who went to Univision last year, Advertising Age reports. “The business is clearly going in the direction of global client consolidation with more sophisticated needs,” said Omnicom Media Group head Daryl Simm, explaining the hire.
—Jon Lafayette

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Fire Stunt on 'Desperate Housewives'

A nightclub fire will threaten the lives of characters on “Desperate Housewives,” the Associated Press reports. The sweeps stunt was shot on the back lot of Universal Studios, away from the show’s usual Wisteria Lane street set. The fire is part of a continuing effort by creator Marc Cherry to keep the hit show interesting, the wire service says.
—Jon Lafayette

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IM Global, Platinum Develop 'Hero by Night' Series

IM Global is working with Platinum Studios to develop a live-action series based on D.J. Coffman's "Hero by Night," the Hollywood Reporter says. "Hero" is Platinum's 2006 Comic Book Challenge contest winner and is based on a landlord who discovers a hero’s hidden lair and then sells some of this stuff on eBay. IM Global will manage international distribution for the project as well as serve as producer, the trade paper says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Alexander, Loeb In, Kring Out of 'Heroes' Event

Jesse Alexander and Jeph Loeb, the two executive producers recently fired from NBC's "Heroes," will still attend a Screenwriting Expo panel Saturday, Daily Variety reports. Creator and fellow executive producer Tim Kring, however, has said he will not be participating in order to keep the focus of the panel on the show's creative process instead of recent events. "It's a chance for Jesse and Jeph to tout their incredible participation and involvement and responsibility for the first three seasons of 'Heroes,'" Kring tells Variety.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Acme Posts 3Q Revenue Increase

TV station owner Acme Communications announced revenue for its six stations is up $7.6 million, a percentage point higher than in the same period a year ago, TVNewsday reports. Total operating costs for the quarter were down this year from $12.7 million a year ago to this year’s total of $9.4 million. The company’s overall net revenue for the quarter increased 5% to $8.5 million compared with 2007’s $8.1 million, TVNewsday says.
—Christopher Perez

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Martin Eisenstadt May Come to a TV Near You

The nonexistent Martin Eisenstadt—who somehow hoaxed the Los Angeles Times, the New Republic and most recently MSNBC—is actually a character created by filmmakers Eitan Gorlin and Dan Mirvish to help them pitch a TV show based on the character, the New York Times reports. What better way to make their character famous than by pretending to be responsible for leaking Sarah Palin gossip? The filmmakers don’t blame themselves for the media storms they create, however. They blame the traditional media and the blogosphere, especially. “With the 24-hour news cycle, they rush into anything they can find,” Mirvish tells the Times.
—Christopher Perez

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’60 Minutes’ to Interview President-Elect Obama

President-elect Barack Obama will give his first interview since the election to CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Daily Variety reports. Steve Croft will interview Obama and future First Lady Michelle Obama tomorrow in Chicago, to air on the newsmagazine on Sunday. This isn’t the first time Obama has favored CBS News, the paper says; he also chose “60 Minutes” for his first joint interview with running mate Joe Biden.
—Christopher Perez

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Election Helps ‘Nightline’ Win Late Night

Thanks to the election, ABC’s “Nightline” beat CBS’ “The Late Show With David Letterman” and NBC’s “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” both in total viewers and in the 25-54 demographic, TVNewser reports. The 10.96 million viewers on Election Night marked the highest total viewership for “Nightline” since April 21, 1995, the day Timothy McVeigh was arrested for the Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing. The last time “Nightline” beat both shows in both categories was in March 1998.
—Christopher Perez

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Hollywood Expects Slow Holiday DVD Sales

With DVD sales and rentals already down by 2% during the first half of the year, Advertising Age reports Hollywood isn’t counting on the special-edition DVD box set to help its bottom line in these tough economic times. The publication doesn’t predict the new, definitive box set of “The Sopranos” box will sell well due to the $400 price tag and the amount of material that’s already included in previous releases. With Circuit City filing for bankruptcy protection this week, the holiday season looks grim for this once-dependable cash cow, AdAge says.
—Christopher Perez

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Fey, Cyrus Among ‘Most Fascinating’

Tina Fey, Miley Cyrus and Michael Phelps are among this year’s “10 Most Fascinating People,” the Associated Press reports. The special, airing Dec. 4 and hosted by Barbara Walters on ABC, also named Tom Cruise, Rush Limbaugh and Will Smith to the list. The final four honorees, plus the most fascinating person of the year, were not revealed.
—Christopher Perez

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MSNBC Retracts False McCain-Palin Story

MSNBC officially retracted a false story it reported on-air that the name of the John McCain adviser responsible for leaking gossip about his running mate, Sarah Palin, was Martin Eisenstadt, the Associated Press reports. The “news” was delivered by MSNBC anchor David Shuster on Monday, but it turned out Eisenstadt doesn’t exist; he’s a fake created by filmmakers Eitan Gorlin and Dan Mirvish. Network spokesman Jeremy Gaines officially retracted the story on behalf of the network by saying, “The story was not properly vetted and should not have made air. We recognized the error almost immediately and ran a correction on air within minutes.”
—Christopher Perez

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First International VOD Service Launched

Cablevision Systems launches the first international subscription video-on-demand service with today’s announcement of its Bollywood Hits on-Demand, Multichannel News reports. Bollywood Hits, which can be accessed through the iO user interface or on Channel 241, gives subscribers unlimited access to a variety of South Asian films and music videos, Multichannel says.
—Christopher Perez

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Katie Couric Makes Comeback

CBS News’ Katie Couric finally is getting some respect, Media Life Magazine reports. The publication says since her interview with then-VP candidate Sarah Palin in September, ratings for “The CBS Evening News With Katie Couric” have remained steady and her newscast now is receiving accolades from critics, with Media Life citing praise from the Los Angeles Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer. The attention reportedly has sparked speculation Couric may be heading back to NBC to host “Meet the Press” after she was seen dining with NBC Universal president Jeff Zucker.
—Christopher Perez

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JumpTV Posts 95% Revenue Jump

Internet Protocol TV provider JumpTV reported a 95% increase in revenue for its third quarter compared with the same period a year ago, Broadcasting & Cable reports. However, JumpTV still reported a net loss for the quarter of $11.9 million versus $6.5 million in third quarter 2007. JumpTV streams on-demand sports videos of professional and college sports, encompassing more than 15,000 events in the past year.
—Christopher Perez

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Montana Not Immune to Station Layoffs

NBC’s Helena, Mont., affiliate KTVH-TV, which has already made the switch to digital television, announced it’s laying off four employees and canceling its weekend local news telecasts, the Helena Independent Record reports. “We gave up weekend news because it just wouldn’t pay for itself,” said general manager Kathy Ernst. “All of our stations have had to cut back, and the only thing I could cut was weekend news.”
—Christopher Perez

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Viacom’s Sumner Redstone ‘Pleased’

MarketWatch is skeptical of Viacom chief Sumner Redstone’s recent statement about his cinema exhibition company, National Amusements, which read, “I am pleased that talks with National Amusements’ banks and noteholders are proceeding in a smooth and constructive manner.” MarketWatch begs to differ, pointing to Redstone’s sale of $233 million worth of CBS and Viacom stock to meet debt obligations and Viacom reporting a 37% decline in third-quarter net income.
—Christopher Perez

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FBN to Cover Economic Summit Live

Fox Business Network is going live tomorrow for eight hours to cover the World Economic Summit in Washington, TVNewser reports. Neil Cavuto will report live from the White House while Stuart Varney, Cheryl Casone, Tom Sullivan and Dagen McDowell anchor and interview experts from FBN’s studios. Viewers are encouraged to call in and ask experts for advice.
—Christopher Perez

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NCTA Asks FCC to Rescind Inquiry Letters

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association has called on Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin to rescind a letter to cable operators inquiring about the move of some channels from analog to digital tiers, Broadcasting & Cable reports. The NCTA called the FCC’s letters an abuse of the commission’s process and a violation of the Paperwork Reduction Act, B&C says. The letters were defended by Martin, who suspects the cable companies are trying to “confuse some consumers that they were going to have to go to a digital package as well” when the nation makes the switch to digital television in February.
—Christopher Perez

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Sezmi Secures Stations’ DTV Spectrum

About a half-dozen station groups have agreed to lease digital television spectrum to Sezmi, the planned over-the-air multichannel TV service, TVNewsday reports. The names of the station groups weren’t disclosed because of an official announcement planned for January, but Sezmi Senior VP David Allred did say the three that have been working with Sezmi in technical trials in Seattle–Tribune, Fisher and Daystar–are “very likely” to extend beyond the trials. “We’ve gotten great reception from the broadcast community,” Allred tells TVNewsday.
—Christopher Perez

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HDTV Sets Now in One-Third of U.S. Homes

Research by the Leichtman Research Group found high-definition television sets are slowly becoming the de rigeur way to watch TV, with 34% of American households owning at least one HDTV, Multichannel News reports In the past 12 months, HDTVs made up 22% of all new TV sets purchased. In that time frame, 43% of purchasers spent over $1,000 on their new set.
—Christopher Perez

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NBC Ends ‘Enemy,’ ‘Lipstick’; CW's ‘Privileged’ Wins

NBC has canceled freshman series “My Own Worst Enemy" and sophomore show “Lipstick Jungle” due to struggling ratings, TelevisionWeek reports. The CW, meanwhile, has ordered another five episodes of its first-year dramedy “Privileged,” bringing the episodes count to 18 for the season, the magazine says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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'Flip This House' Creator Wins $4 Mil

A real estate investor who helped create A&E's "Flip This House" was awarded $4 million by a federal jury in South Carolina, the Los Angeles Times reports. He had sued A&E for allegedly reneging on a promise to share half the revenue generated by the show and the award represents half the profits from the first season, the newspaper said. Richard C. Davis, the plaintiff who helped conceive of the show, was featured buying properties, fixing them and selling some for a profit in the program. There was no written contract between Davis and A&E and the case represents the enforceability of oral contracts in Hollywood, the paper says.
—Greg Baumann

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QVC to Lay Off 700 Workers

Liberty Media's QVC shopping channel expects to lay off 700 workers over the next 14 months, after already having pared 160, the Wall Street Journal reports. The cuts will trim operating costs by $30 million to $40 million, the paper says. The company will add 200 jobs in a South Carolina distribution center, the Journal says.
—Greg Baumann

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Showtime, Stan Lee Develop Gay Superhero

Showtime is developing a gay superhero project with comic book legend Stan Lee, Daily Variety reports. The hour-long series, based on Perry Moore’s book “Hero,” will follow a superhero and the challenges he faces while hiding his secret identities. Lee will served as executive producer along with Gill Champion, president and CEO of Lee’s Pow! Entertainment, the trade says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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YouTube to Sell Video Search Ads

Google's YouTube, the biggest Web-video sharing site, introduced a service that sells video advertisements linked to search results on the site, the Wall Street Journal says. The program will deliver users online commercials next to their search results and advertisers can create and bid for the ads through a self-service Web site, the paper said. The new program is an effort to boost sales at YouTube, which Google bought for $1.65 billion two years ago.
—Greg Baumann

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NFL Network in Patriots Cable Fray

New England Patriot fans in the Northeast who don't live in the Boston metropolitan area and Manchester N.H. will have to search for the game tonight versus the New York Jets on the NFL Network, a cable channel that only about 40% of U.S. homes get, the Wall Street Journal says. The quandary represents the balance the NFL has to keep since it moved eight regular-season games to its cable channel in 2006 and tried to get cable companies to pay about 75 cents per subscriber each month to include the channel on their basic packages, the paper says. Last year, the NFL put a Patriots game carried by the NFL Network on CBS and NBC to increase distribution, the paper points out.
—Greg Baumann

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‘Prison Break’ Gets Final Orders?

An extra two-episode order for Fox’s “Prison Break” could mean the end of the series, the Hollywood Reporter says. The actors on the show were told that production might be extended for the extra episodes, which some believe could be for a series finale. The show’s writers are yet to pitch ideas about the additional two hours and the network is yet to make a commitment to air them, the trade says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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NBC Adds Two Women to 'SNL'

NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” has added to new female comedians to its cast, Daily Variety reports. One is Abby Elliott, daughter of comedian Chris Elliott and a former member of the Upright Citizens Brigade. The other is Michaela Watkins, who has done several guest spots on comedy shows in addition to performing with the Groundlings, the trade says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Showtime Develops ‘Kevin’ Dating Show

Showtime is working with “The Simpsons” writer and executive producer Tim Long on a new comedy “Kevin and the Chart of Destiny,” the Hollywood Reporter says. The project is about a market researcher and his elaborate dating system aimed at finding a wife within a year. It will draw Long’s own dating experiences, the trade says. Long has been with ‘The Simpsons’ for 10 years.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Sasha Alexander Returns to CBS

CBS “NCIS” vet Sasha Alexander will star in the network’s pilot “The Karenskys,” the Hollywood Reporter says. Alexander will play a woman who returns to her hometown after her husband is relocated for work. The project comes from “Malcolm in the Middle” creator Linwood Boomer, Universal Media Studios and BermanBraun, the trade says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Comedy Central Pushes ‘Ugly,’ ‘Evan’

Comedy Central is developing a new animated project “Ugly Americans” and the live-action comedy “Evan and Gareth Are Trying to Get Laid,” Daily Variety reports. “Americans” is based on a spinoff of the network’s “5-On” online series, while “Evan and Gareth” marks a new show about a duo who work for a male relationship advice Web site, Thehookup.com, the trade says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Matthew Lillard Gets ‘Unmarried’

“Scream” and “Scooby-Doo” actor Matthew Lillard will guest star on an upcoming episode of CBS’ “Gary Unmarried,” TV Guide reports. Lillard will play the affluent Taylor, brother to Allison, who’s played by Paula Marshall. TV Guide notes the successful sitcom so far this season is holding on to, if not building upon, the audience for its lead-in “The New Adventures of Old Christine” every Wednesday.
—Christopher Perez

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Brad Garrett Under Investigation for Battery

Los Angeles County sheriff deputies are investigating a battery claim against Brad Garrett, star of “Everybody Loves Raymond” and the current Fox sitcom “’Til Death,” the Associated Press reports. The alleged incident took place in West Hollywood and involves Garrett and a photographer. Messages left for Garrett’s manager, Glenn Robbins, weren’t immediately returned to the AP.
—Christopher Perez

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Logo Acquires Canada’s ‘Rescue’

Logo has picked up the Canadian series “Chris & John to the Rescue!,” the Hollywood Reporter says. The gay-themed cable network acquired three seasons of the camp series featuring best friends John Simpson and Chris Carter as they help people in need across North America, the paper says. “Chris & John” is set to debut on Logo in January.
—Christopher Perez

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Novak’s ‘Office’ Leave May Be Permanent

Actor-writer B.J. Novak is taking a leave from NBC’s “The Office” to appear in Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming film “Inglorious Bastards,” Entertainment Weekly reports. An insider tells EW the length of Novak’s absence could last for “several episodes” but he should return by season’s end. Another source suspects Novak may leave “The Office” for good as an actor but stay on as a writer.
—Christopher Perez

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NBC News Announcer Howard Reig Dies

Retired “NBC Nightly News” announcer Howard Reig died today in Florida at the age of 87, TVNewser reports. Reig voiced the opening for NBC’s nightly news broadcast from 1952 until his retirement in 2007, when actor Michael Douglas took his place. “He had the distinction of being the first staff announcer employed by General Electric and the last,” said “NBC Nightly News” director Brett Holey in statement. “In over 63 years in the business he was a radio actor, hosted live big band shows and got to know Duke Ellington in his prime. He was an on-air pitch man who shared the screen with J. Fred Muggs and voiced some of the more well-known commercials of the ’60s.”
—Christopher Perez

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O’Reilly Is Both Most, Least Favorite Journalist

The esteemed Pew Research Center has released its post-election report, which found Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly to be television viewers’ most favorite and least favorite campaign journalist, TVNewser reports. NBC News’ Tom Brokaw and FNC’s Sean Hannity tied for second in the most favorite journalist poll. Coming in second to O’Reilly as the least favorite campaign journalist was CBS News’ Katie Couric, narrowly beating all of the Fox News Channel’s journalists.
—Christopher Perez

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Kardashian Latest to Guest on ‘Mother’

Kim Kardashian, subject of E!’s “Catching Up With the Kardashians” and a “Dancing With the Stars” contestant this season, will make a guest appearance on CBS’ “How I Met Your Mother,” TV Guide reports. Kardashian plays herself on the episode, in which her photograph on the cover of fictional magazine Them Weekly comes to life and speaks to Marshall, played by Jason Segal. The episode, which also will feature “Hills” regulars Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt, shoots this week.
—Christopher Perez

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McCain Gives Leno Best Ratings in 10 Months

Sen. John McCain’s appearance on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” Tuesday night helped the show to its best metered-market Nielsen household ratings in 10 months. “The Tonight Show” averaged a 4.9 rating and 12 share, Media Life Magazine reports. NBC trounced its competitors on CBS and ABC, with “The Late Show With David Letterman” averaging a 3.2 rating and 8 share and “Nightline” averaging a 3.1 rating and 7 share, respectively.
—Christopher Perez

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Bellin Goes Back to ‘The Review’

Because you’re just not getting enough of it in the news, HBO is prepping a new drama set against the stock-market woes of 1987 called “The Review,” the Hollywood Reporter says. The project from writer Andy Bellin, who’s also an executive producer, is a semi-autobiographical take on Bellin’s experience working for George Plimpton as an editor at the Paris Review in the aftermath of Black Monday. “I conned my way into that job because I desperately wanted to become a writer—having wasted so many years in the hard sciences—and George had a well-earned reputation for nurturing young writers and an open mind to people of all academic backgrounds,” Bellin tells the Reporter.
—Christopher Perez

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‘Dexter’ Star Visiting ‘Gossip Girl’

Desmond Harrington, who plays Quinn on Showtime’s “Dexter,” has lined up a guest spot on The CW’s “Gossip Girl,” Entertainment Weekly reports. The actor will turn up as Jack, younger brother of Bart Bass, played by Robert John Burke. The episode likely will air sometime early next year, EW says.
—Christopher Perez

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Ailes Dedicates Hometown Vets Memorial

Fox News Chairman-CEO Roger Ailes returned Tuesday to his hometown of Warren, Ohio, to dedicate a veterans memorial for Trumbull County, the Warren Tribune Chronicle reports. As the dedication ceremony’s guest speaker, Ailes said his return to Warren made him “a little sad” after having seen the empty storefronts and weakened manufacturing base. After mourning the death of Warren’s middle class, Ailes talked about his own opportunities growing up in the small town and shared some advice his father gave him. “If you want a helping hand, look at the end of your arm,” he said.
—Christopher Perez

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LG, Sharp, Chunghwa Face $585 Million in Fines

Three electronics firms have pleaded guilty to conspiring to drive up prices for people buying computers, TVs and other LCD screens, the Associated Press reports. LG, Sharp and Chunghwa agreed to pay $585 million in fines in a plea agreement filed today in San Francisco’s U.S. District Court.
—Christopher Perez

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‘Idol’ Gives $64 Million to Charities

“American Idol” has given more than $64 million in grants to six U.S. and international charities from contributions to its April “Idol Gives Back” fundraising event, the Associated Press reports. Grants have been made to the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis & Malaria; Malaria No More; Children’s Health Fund; Save the Children; Children’s Defense Fund; and Brad Pitt’s campaign to help post-Katrina New Orleans, Make It Right. “We are extremely thankful to our viewers, sponsors and outstanding talent who continue to motivate each and every one of us to contribute to those who need it the most,” said “Idol” creator and executive producer Simon Fuller in a statement.
—Christopher Perez

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Pop’s Biggest Stars to Perform on ‘TRL’ Finale

MTV’s “Total Request Live” is pulling out all the stops for its final show, which is scheduled for Nov. 16, Billboard reports. A who’s who of pop stars will be delivering performances to say goodbye to the show that put them on the map. Scheduled to perform are Justin Timberlake, Kid Rock, Christina Aguilera, Snoop Dogg, Mariah Carey, Hilary Duff, Nelly and the Backstreet Boys. “TRL” hosts past and present also are scheduled to appear.
—Christopher Perez

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Chase Speaks About ‘Sopranos’ DVD Release

Entertainment Weekly talks with David Chase about the release of his entire series “The Sopranos” on DVD. The series’ creator talks about the series finale, how he doesn’t watch old episodes and the music featured on the show. “When we first started to budget, I said, ‘I want $50,000 per episode for music clearances.’ People said, ‘Why? What’s that got to do with the mob?’ I said, ‘Uhhh, I can’t answer that for you,’” he tells the magazine.
—Christopher Perez

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Ted Turner Gives Lou Dobbs an Earful

Ted Turner paid a visit to “Lou Dobbs Tonight” on Tuesday, TVNewser reports. The two reminisced about the early days of CNN and the state of the economy. Turner, who was promoting his new book “Call Me Ted,” talked about the need for investment in renewable energy and wind turbines, how the Detroit auto industry should not get a government bailout and even criticized Dobbs, telling the anchor, “You’re so mean and nasty to the illegal immigrants.”
—Christopher Perez

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Fox Cancels ‘MADtv’

Fox has canceled late-night sketch comedy show “MADtv,” Defamer reports. An unnamed, “highly placed” source tells the blog, “It’s true. We’re finishing out the season, then we’re done.” The show has been running on Fox for 14 seasons.
—Christopher Perez

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CNBC Budget Slashed Despite Strong Ratings

CNBC, fresh off the biggest ratings in its history due to the financial fallout, is being rewarded by parent company NBC Universal with a 10% overall budget cut, the New York Observer reports. Since CNBC has dominated competitive upstart Fox Business Network, many see the cuts as not surprising. “It’s only logical that after the cut at NBC News and MSNBC that CNBC would eventually have to come to the table,” an unnamed insider tells the Observer.
—Christopher Perez

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‘Intervention’ Renewed for Sixth Season

A&E has renewed “Intervention” for a sixth season, Daily Variety reports. The show is the cable network’s top-rated series, last season averaging 2 million total viewers, up 33% from the previous season. The show’s positive feedback led A&E to launch its Recovery Project nonprofit initiative to increase awareness about addiction and recovery issues.
—Christopher Perez

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Cable Consumers Want More Control, Says Rayport

Cable companies need to create the digital tools needed to empower subscribers, says marketing consultant, textbook author and former Harvard Business School professor Jeffrey Rayport, speaking at the CTAM Summit in Boston. Advertising Age reports Rayport said consumers are no longer only happy with accessing cable company video content—they increasingly want control over the context in which they experience it.
—Christopher Perez

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Cable Not Yet Ready for Its Own Hulu

According to a panel at the CTAM Summit in Boston, cable networks are not likely to get their own version of Hulu.com any time soon, Advertising Age reports. Cable networks still receive at least half of their revenue from cable subscription fees, and the idea of giving away content for free online isn’t in the cards. “The cable channel business is a good business model, and we want to continue to be partners with the distributors,” said Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav, a panelist at the CTAM Summit.
—Christopher Perez

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‘Simpsons,’ NYT Crossword to Cross-Promote

“The Simpsons” will be featured on this Sunday’s New York Times crossword puzzle, the Futon Critic reports. Crossword puzzle creator Merl Reagle and New York Times Crossword Puzzle editor Will Shortz will make guest voice appearances on the show the same day. A message integral to that evening’s show can be found in the newspaper’s crossword puzzle. “One of the great things about working on ‘The Simpsons’ is that when we do a show on a particular subject be it politics, sports or music we do it right,” says the show’s executive producer Tim Long.
—Christopher Perez

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Tribune Gets Creative in Hard Times

When faced with a looming recession and a mountain of debt, cost-cutting, hiring freezes and lay offs aren’t the only ways to get out of the red. Tribune, as TVNewsday reports, is getting creative in how it deals with the financial crisis. One example is Tribune’s decision to turn over its CW stations in Denver and St. Louis to Local TV’s Fox affiliates in those markets back in September. The company also beefs up personnel and news programming in key markets, something TVNewsday calls “spending money to make money.”
—Christopher Perez

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Palin Makes the TV Rounds

As former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin gives interviews to various TV outlets this see, she is "unleashed but not humbled," the New York Times says. Her interviews began airing before her running mate, John McCain, got his post-election say in on "The Tonight Show" Tuesday. McCain defended Palin while talking with Jay Leno, Reuters says.
—Jon Lafayette

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Disney Bids to Move Bowls to Cable

Disney is bidding against Fox to move the college football Bowl Championship Series to ESPN, USA Today reports. Fox's $82.5 million a year deal runs through next season. "The BCS is obviously an attractive television property, but we simply have not completed our process," BCS coordinator John Swofford tells the paper.
—Jon Lafayette

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Time for Cable a la Carte

A Los Angeles Times columnist says it's time for the cable industry to switch to an a la carte system that would allow subscribers to pay only for the channels they want to watch. "I never watch ESPN. When I watch TV, it's usually CNN, CNBC or a movie channel. On an a la carte basis, I could probably get the handful of channels I like for pocket change," David Lazarus writes.
—Jon Lafayette

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Current Cuts Staff, Changing Format

Al Gore's Current Media eliminated about 60 positions, but said it created 30 new jobs, leaving it with a staff of 410 employees, according to CNET. Sources tell CNET the networks will be shifting from shorter, user-generated videos to more traditional 30-minute programs.
—Jon Lafayette

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CNBC Budgets Cut Despite Higher Ratings

Generating big ratings while covering the stock market collapse has earned CNBC budget cuts, the New York Observer reports. CNBC is expected to have to lower spending by 10%. It wasn’t clear if staffing would be an area where CNBC would be making trims.
—Jon Lafayette

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Some Patriots Fans in Dark With Game on NFL Net

While Thursday night's game between the New England Patriots and the New York Jets on NFL Network will also be broadcast by a local station in Boston, Patriot fans in other New England towns will have to get satellite or go to a bar to see the game, the Wall Street Journal reports. By defining the home market narrowly, the NFL is hoping to pressure cable operators to distribute the NFL Network more broadly, the paper says.
—Jon Lafayette

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HBO Develops 'Red Hot' Kiedis Project

HBO is developing a new series with Red Hot Chili Peppers lead singer Anthony Kiedis based on his childhood, Daily Variety reports. The project, "Scar Tissue," will focus on Kiedis' relationship growing up with his father. The singer is teaming up with Catapult 360's Marc Abrams and Michael Benson for the show, Variety says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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No Ad Recovery Till 2010, Citi Says

Citigroup is forecasting that ad spending will be down 1.8% this year and 3.6% in 2009, Bloomberg reports. "We believe U.S. advertising spending will see the first back-to-back annual declines since at least the 1950s," a Citigroup analyst wrote in a new report.
—Jon Lafayette

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Local TV Ads to Fall 7% to 11%

An updated forecast by the Television Bureau of Advertising calls for a 7% to 11% decline in ad revenues at local stations, Television Week reports. Before the economy cratered, the group had predicted a 2% to 5% decline.
—Jon Lafayette

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KCRA Anchor Team Signing Off

The news anchor team of Lois Hart and Dave Walker will leave their posts at KCRA-TV, Sacramento when the sweeps end on Nov. 26, the Sacramento Bee reports. The pair has been married since 1979 and has served as a team on air since 1980 with CNN, the newspaper says. They returned to Sacramento and KCRA in 1990.
—Sergio Ibarra

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MSNBC Adds 7-Second Delay

The next time MSNBC host Joe Scarborough drops an F-bomb on his morning show, the network will be able to defuse it after building a seven-second delay into the live program's production, the Associated Press reports. Other MSNBC shows won't have the delay, according to a network spokesman, who says network brass and Scarborough "mutually" wanted the delay added to his show.
—Jon Lafayette

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'Mentalist' Actor Having Fun

After spending much of his career taking himself too seriously, Simon Baker is having fun with the lead role on CBS' "The Mentalist," USA Today says. Co-star Amanda Righetti tells the paper that Baker "does take his work very seriously, but he brings a sense of wit to the character . . . Once in a while you'll catch him doing a bit of improv. He does it in rehearsals to get everyone loosened up and into the moment. He really allows himself to have fun with it, and it's fun to watch."
—Jon Lafayette

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HBO Advances 'Thrones' Project

HBO has given the greenlight for production of the fantasy drama pilot "Game of Thrones," based on George R.R. Martin’s book series, Daily Variety reports. Although the network first acquired the rights to the project almost two years ago, it will now go ahead with production with writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. Former HBO president of entertainment Carolyn Strauss will be co-executive producer on the project with Vincent Gerardis, Guymon Cassidy and Martin, the trade paper says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Line Off on Sunday Night Football

Technology used by NBC on "Sunday Night Football" to electronically show viewers where the line of scrimmage is was called into question during this week's Giants-Eagles game when the Giants challenged a call that quarterback Eli Manning illegally crossed the line before passing, the New York Times reports. The Giants say he did not cross the line and replays using monitors and a "readjusted" line showed that's the case, the newspaper says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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'Days' Gets 18-Month Renewal From NBC

NBC has renewed soap opera "Days of Our Lives" for an additional 18 months, Daily Variety reports. The pickup, significantly shorter than the previous five-year commitment the show received during its last renewal, reflects daytime TV's ongoing struggles. The network may add another year to its deal should the show meet expectations, the trade paper says. NBC Universal’s Jeff Zucker previously suggested the soap opera might be canceled altogether.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Fox Sticks With 'Abandon' Team

Fox has signed a first-look deal for the independent comedy project "Living With Abandon" from writers Richie Keen and Heath Corson, the Hollywood Reporter says. The show will focus on members of an abandonment support group who must help each other deal with their problems after their therapist commits suicide, the trade says. The writing duo had a deal with Fox 21 where they worked on a different project before pitching "Abandon" to the network, the Reporter adds.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Schiller to Run National Public Radio

Former Discovery Times general manager Vivian Schiller is leaving her current post as head of online operations at the New York Times to be president and CEO of National Public Radio, the New York Times reports. "What we were looking for were leadership skills, sort of a quiet, tough humility, the ability to implement and an energy to carry us and the stations forward in a positive way," NPR Chairman Howard Stevenson told the paper.
—Jon Lafayette

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No More 'Dancing' for Greene

Maurice Greene won't be taking home a gold medal on "Dancing With the Stars," the Associated Press reports. The Olympic champion was spiked when viewer votes were combined with the judges' scores. "I made a lot of new friends out here. I learned how to dance out here in front of millions of people every night. I had a great time," Greene said.
—Jon Lafayette

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Beaver's Brother Makes the Louvre

Tony Dow, the big brother on "Leave It to Beaver," will have one of his abstract sculptures on display at the Louvre in Paris, the Associated Press reports. "Having something shown at the Louvre is about as good as you can get," Dow tells the wire service.
—Jon Lafayette

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Hallmark Casts Stars for 'Dance' Movie

Hallmark Channel's upcoming original movie "Wedding Dance" has landed John Schneider, Brooke Nevin and Roma Downey to star in the film, the Hollywood Reporter says. Production will begin later this month, with the movie expected to air next year, the trade paper says. This will be Schneider's third Hallmark film and the first for Nevin and Downey.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Co-Stars Added to Showtime, Fox Studios Projects

Dominic Fumusa will co-star in the upcoming Showtime and Lionsgate TV series "Nurse Jackie," the Hollywood Reporter says. Fumusa will play the husband of Edie Falco's Jackie. Fox TV Studios, Canada's CTV, Germany's ProSieben and the BBC have also added Laura Harris to the cast of their upcoming joint project "Defying Gravity," focusing on a group of astronauts on a multiyear mission through the solar system, the trade paper adds.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Palin Discusses Couric With Lauer

In his interview with Gov. Sarah Palin to air Wednesday, “Today” co-host asks the former candidate for VP about her interview with CBS News’ Katie Couric and whether the criticisms about her performance harmed her self-confidence, TVNewser reports. “No. … I’m sure that some of my impatience showed through in that interview,” Palin tells Lauer. “I think it also showed, though, certainly as a Washington outsider, and as somebody—not one to just, I guess, kind of play in the campaigning media game that is—just repeating … memorized lines in an interview. That’s not me.”
—Christopher Perez

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Financial Crisis Not Worrying Hulu CEO

On CNBC this morning, Hulu.com CEO Jason Kilar said revenue is “vastly exceeding our expectations,” the Silicon Alley Insider reports. “We’ve gone from a handful of advertisers to over 100,” he told the business channel. “When you take a look at the ramp of the business in terms of revenue, it’s vastly exceeding our expectations. Even in amidst the current financial markets, we’re seeing business grow very aggressively.”
—Christopher Perez

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Consumers Think Highly of Promotional Items

A new study by the Advertising Specialty Institute found that promotional swag is more likely to get a customer’s attention than advertising, Brandweek reports. Swag is anything from coffee mugs to pencils to hats that are emblazoned with a company name and/or logo. The study found 84% of consumers remembered an advertiser based on a piece of swag they received, while 42% of participants had a more favorable impression of an advertiser after receiving a promotional product, Brandweek says.
—Christopher Perez

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MyNetworkTV Goes ‘Home’ With Sears

To promote its “Heroes at Home Wish Registry,” where consumers can grant holiday wishes to 29,000 active-duty members of the U.S. military, Sears is sponsoring a two-hour “Heroes at Home” special tonight on MyNetworkTV, Brandweek reports. The special, hosted by Howie Long, will tell the stories of six service members who share their Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom experiences. Spots for the campaign feature rapper LL Cool J and Ty Pennington of ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”
—Christopher Perez

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Beck Could Start at FNC in January

After appearing Monday on Fox News Channel’s “The O’Reilly Factor,” TVNewser believes conservative personality Glenn Beck may be coming to the network sooner than expected. Beck is officially scheduled to start in April, but O’Reilly introduced Beck on the program by saying he’ll begin hosting in January. That, along with confirmation from unnamed sources, leads TVNewser to suggest Beck has been released from his CNN Headline News contract.
—Christopher Perez

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ESPN Expands Coach Knight’s Role

Hall of Fame college basketball coach Bob Knight’s analyst role on ESPN just got bigger, the Associated Press reports. Knight will work ESPN’s Thursday night telecasts, appear on “SportsCenter” and provide postseason studio analysis for the network. Knight also will be an analyst for select nonconference game telecasts on nights other than Thursday and will make on-site appearances on “College GameDay.” Knight makes his ESPN debut this season on “College GameDay” from Chapel Hill, N.C., on Nov. 18.
—Christopher Perez

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American Accents on TV Graded

The Boston Globe hands out report cards to foreign actors who don American accents on TV. Among the best are Hugh Laurie of Fox’s “House,” Anna Paquin of HBO’s “True Blood’ and Jason Isaacs of Showtime’s “Brotherhood.” The worst of the bunch include Anna Torv of Fox’s “Fringe” and Charlie Hunnam, who plays Jax on FX’s “Sons of Anarchy.”
—Christopher Perez

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Smith Firing Leaves Unanswered Questions

he news of Brooke Smith’s firing on ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” just won’t go away. ABC News tries to get to the bottom of Smith’s abrupt termination. “What’s odd about this is the timing. Usually you see these things percolating,” said an anonymous TV executive. “I don’t think this would be an affiliate issue. It doesn’t seem to be an indecency issue. That means it’s got to be a creative issue or an advertising issue.” Smith played a doctor involved in a lesbian relationship with another doctor, played by Sara Ramirez. Many feel the homosexual relationship was the reason for Smith’s dismissal.
—Christopher Perez

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Peters Gets ‘Ugly’ Role

Acclaimed Broadway actress Bernadette Peters will make a guest appearance on ABC’s “Ugly Betty,” the Los Angeles Times reports. Peters will play magazine mogul Jodie Papadakis. Apparently Papadakis is eyeing assistants Betty, played by America Ferrera, and Marc, played by Michael Urie, who end up competing against each other in an editor-in-training program. The episode should air sometime in January.
—Christopher Perez

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Fremantle to Produce Shows for YouTube

YouTube has scored a deal with production company FremantleMedia, makers of “American Idol,” Reuters reports. Under the deal, FremantleMedia will produce programs exclusively for YouTube, with the revenues split between the two entities. The deal seals the existing partnership between Fremantle and YouTube, with YouTube already hosting a Fremantle channel that features U.K. series “The X Factor.”
—Christopher Perez

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Fox Fighting Through Tough Times

TVNewsday interviews Fox Networks Group CEO Tony Vinciquerra and asks him about Fox revenues during the economic downturn, station affiliates and the fall season TV ratings so far. “Network television right now is a little rocky in terms of ratings and we’ve got to really get focused on how to get these audiences back,” he tells TVNewsday. “The one thing that we shortchanged ourselves on is reporting the daily ratings because they’re not really the ratings anymore because of DVR usage.”
—Christopher Perez

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DTV Community Mark 100 Days to Switch

Various broadcasters, government officials and others involved convened Monday at Washington’s Newseum to mark the final 100 days before the national transition to digital TV, Broadcasting & Cable reports. The event featured a lot of mutual admiration between the government and the broadcasting industry, Broadcasting & Cable says, but potential problems and concerns with the transition still found their way into the discussion. “As we learned from our tests in Wilmington, N.C., and seven soft analog tests we participated in in various markets around the country, Nielsen has underestimated by potentially up to 40%-50% the actual number of people who will need cable, satellite or a converter box,” said Univision CEO Joe Uva.
—Christopher Perez

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Advertising Now News at WBTW-TV

Local television stations these days are desperate for ad dollars. One thing WBTW-TV of Myrtle Beach, S.C., is doing for ad revenue is blurring the line between news and advertising with its “Living Green” campaign, the product of the station’s lucrative partnership with energy company Santee Cooper, TVNewsday reports. Segments sponsored by Santee Cooper, hosted by meteorologist Melissa Hoeman, are featured on the station’s “5 O’Clock News” broadcasts. A weekly five-minute “Living Green” program that airs after WBTW’s “Noon News,” informational spots and an online and print presence round out the campaign. “We made sure we understood the client’s needs,” said General Sales Manager Brian Lang. “And their ‘Santee Cooper Green’ initiative was clearly a priority.”
—Christopher Perez

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NBC’s Todd Readying Obama Election Book

NBC News’ political director and on-air analyst Chuck Todd is putting together a paperback for Knopf’s Vintage titled “How Obama Won,” the New York Observer reports. The book, co-written by polling expert and NBC News’ election director Sheldon Gawiser, will be a state-by-state guide to Obama’s victory.
—Christopher Perez

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‘Sunday Night Football’ to Debut Springsteen Song

Bruch Springsteen’s new song, “Workin’ on a Dream,” will premiere Sunday on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football,” the Hollywood Reporter says. The song will play during a package of highlights in the game’s halftime segment. The song will be available on Springsteen’s new album, due out in January.
—Christopher Perez

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Dish, Invidi Partner for Addressable TV Ads

Dish Network is partnering with Invidi Technologies to help deliver “addressable, targeted and local TV advertising,” Advertising Age reports. According to Dish’s executive VP Michael Kelly, Invidi will enable the satellite company “to target any geographic or demographic footprint advertisers are interested in reaching to deliver their message with measurement and accountability.”
—Christopher Perez

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December Release for Dish DTV Box

Dish Network’s new DTV-to-analog convertor box with DVR functionality will be available for pre-orders beginning Nov. 19, Broadcasting & Cable reports. The box can be purchased beginning in mid-December. The DTVPal DVR sells at $299 and will come with a $50 rebate. The government subsidy for DTV convertors can’t be applied to the box because of the added DVR function.
—Christopher Perez

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Spanish Networks Pump Up DTV Message

Spanish-language networks Univision and Telemundo plan to pump up their digital television transition campaigns during the last 100 days before the national transition date in February, Multichannel News reports. Univision’s telecast of the Latin Grammy Awards on Nov. 13 will integrate the message heavily, as will the network’s news and entertainment information shows. Telemundo is calling its effort to inform viewers about the DTV transition “Alerta Digital” and is running public service announcements featuring personalities Maria Celeste and Pedro Sevcec, among others.
—Christopher Perez

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Canoe Shares Plans at CTAM

Canoe Ventures, a consortium of cable companies that includes Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Charter Communications, Cablevision Systems and Bright House Networks, paid a visit to the CTAM Summit in Boston, Broadcasting & Cable reports. Canoe Ventures told attendees it plans on bringing ad-targeting and measurability found on the Web to cable TV. “We don’t want it to be ‘just like the Internet.’ We want it to be better and different,”said Canoe Ventures chief marketing officer Vicki Lins.
—Christopher Perez

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Some Marketers Pass on Super Bowl

With spots costing $3 million for 30 seconds, some marketers think the Super Bowl may not be the best place to spend their ad dollars, particularly in these rough economic times, the Wall Street Journal reports. Past Super advertisers dropping out of the big game are General Motors and Garmin. FedEx is undecided. NBC, which sold most of its Super Bowl inventory before the economy went into crisis mode, says it has about eight spots left—the same eight it's had available since September.
—Jon Lafayette

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What Fall Season?

USA Today says that fall was a big waste of time for the broadcast networks, which managed to launch just two successful series—CBS' "The Mentalist" and Fox's "Fringe"—and held back some of the shows viewers want to see most until midseason. One problem this fall was an over-reliance on imported series. "This willingness to base U.S. schedules on foreign ratings reflects both a laziness and a lack of confidence among network executives. TV works better when it's run by people who have faith in their own taste and judgment—even if that faith is misplaced,” the paper says.
—Jon Lafayette

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Monday Was Gaffe Day Live

On-air personalities managed to say and do things on live TV Monday that induced cringes and apologies, the Washington Post reports. The "Today" show ventured into Matt Lauer's marital history, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough dropped an F-bomb and Keith Olbermann was surrounded by chaos on "The View," the paper says.
—Jon Lafayette

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ABC to Move 'Practice,' 'Mars'

ABC is pairing "Grey's Anatomy" with spinoff "Private Practice" in a midseason primetime programming shuffle, the Hollywood Reporter says. "Practice" will move to the Thursday 10 p.m. slot following "Grey's" beginning early next year. The network will move freshman series "Life on Mars" from Thursday to Wednesdays at 10 p.m., following "Lost," the Reporter says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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NASCAR Takes Detour from ABC to ESPN2

ABC dropped Sunday's NASCAR race when it ran long, and shifted coverage to ESPN2, allowing the broadcaster to air "America's Funniest Home Videos," USA Today reports. "I like that show, but I'd rather watch the race," said driver Jamie McMurray, no doubt echoing the thoughts of many race fans.
—Jon Lafayette

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Whoopi to Develop Discovery Projects

Whoopi Goldberg has signed a development deal at Discovery Emerging Networks, Daily Variety reports. As part of the agreement, Goldberg and partner Tom Leonardis will develop projects for Investigation Discovery and Science Channel with a provision that at least one of them gets a greenlight, the trade paper says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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'Sesame Street' Goes Digital

Episodes and clips from "Sesame Street" will be available on the Web for the first time, Reuters reports. Children's Television Workshop has made distribution deals with Apple's iTunes, Google's YouTube and News Corp. and GE's Hulu.
—Jon Lafayette

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RHI Cutting Staff

RHI Entertainment Inc., Robert Halmi's production company, says it is cutting staff and implementing other cost cutting measures, Dow Jones reports. According to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, the TV content company is trying to reduce selling, general and administrative expenses by 20% in fiscal 2009.
—Jon Lafayette

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'Hills' Stars Meet 'Your Mother'

Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt of MTV's "The Hills" will be making an appearance on CBS' "How I Met Your Mother," TV Guide reports. The two will taunt the show's lead character Marshall from the cover of a tabloid, the magazine says.
—Jon Lafayette

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Pollan Joining 'Medium'

Actress Tracy Pollan will be joining the cast of NBC's "Medium" for three episodes, Entertainment Weekly reports. Pollan, who plays what the magazine calls a "corporate intuitionist" and tries to hire star Patricia Arquette's character, hasn’t appeared in a major series for eight years.
—Jon Lafayette

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NBC's Identity Crisis

While CBS is the middle-of-the-road network, and ABC targets women with prime time soaps, NBC "lurches through the week with programs that have no connection," Crain's New York says. Under new programming chief Ben Silverman, the Peacock network remains in fourth place among the broadcasters. "They need a defining night," media buyer Jason Kanefsky tells the paper. "If viewers don't know what to expect, they won't tune in."
—Jon Lafayette

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Viacom Keeps Times Square HQ

Viacom won't be moving from its Times Square headquarters where MTV's studios are located, the New York Post reports. The media giant renewed its lease on over 1 million square feet of office space at 1515 Broadway, the paper says.
—Jon Lafayette

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Bart Tapped for Int'l Emmys

Roger Bart will serve as host of this month's International Emmy Awards, Daily Variety reports. Sam Waterston and Jeff Goldblum will also present the International Emmy Founders Award to "Law & Order" creator Dick Wolf, the trade paper says. Among the other presenters scheduled to appear are John Waters, Willie Garson and Andrea Roth.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Actor Cromwell Hurt Biking

James Cromwell broke his collarbone and suffered a partially deflated lung in a fall off a bicycle over the weekend, the Associated Press reports. A spokeswoman for the actor told the wire service he might be able to complete his work on NBC's "My Own Worst Enemy."
—Jon Lafayette

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AEG Draws Viewers to Stages

AEG Live has been banking on the popularity of TV brands to generate concert ticket sales, Daily Variety reports. The live events producer has staged national tours of "American Idol" and will soon begin its "Dancing With the Stars" tour. When it makes a deal with a TV show, AEG handles management, production, marketing and promotion of the live event, the trade paper says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Artios Recognize 'Damages,' 'Daisies'

"Damages" and "Pushing Daisies" drew the top honors at the Casting Society of America's 24th Annual Artios Awards, the Hollywood Reporter says. Julie Tucker took the prize for "Damages" while Meg Liberman, Cami Patton and Jennifer Lare represented "Pushing Daisies." Other TV programming receiving awards at the ceremony Monday included "Mad Men," "Recount" and "John Adams," the trade paper says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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KCET Ups Mary Mazur

KCET-TV has promoted Mary Mazur to executive VP and chief content producer for the public broadcasting station, Daily Variety reports. Mazur was already an executive VP of programming and production, and will now manage online programming initiatives for the Southern California-area PBS outlet, the trade paper says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Tim McGraw to Host 'SNL'

Country singer Tim McGraw is set to host "Saturday Night Live" on Nov. 22, the Associated Press says. McGraw is co-starring with Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon in the upcoming holiday movie "Four Christmases."
—Jon Lafayette

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Carlin Honored in Ceremony to Air on PBS

Comedian George Carlin posthumously received the award he considered to be the only legitimate comedy prize this evening. Carlin received the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in a ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, the Associated Press reports. Carlin knew he was to receive the award before his death in June, as it had been announced just days before. “He was thrilled,” daughter Kelly Carlin McCall told the AP. “I think he represented a lot of what Mark Twain did for our country, not only being smart and funny but also being a sharp commentator.” The ceremony, featuring comedians Jon Stewart, Lily Tomlin and Joan Rivers, will aired at a later date on PBS.
—Christopher Perez

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FNC Expected to Keep Top Spot

Fox News Channel won’t lose the cable news top spot, says MarketWatch, which, like FNC, is owned by News Corp. The business Web site points to the loyalty of FNC’s conservative viewers and the network’s affinity for portraying itself as the underdog, which will be a lot easier to do with Democrat Barack Obama as president. MarketWatch also points out that Fox News Channel really took off during Bill Clinton’s presidency.
—Christopher Perez

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Obama Will Be the First E-President

The Washington Post expects the Barack Obama White House will be the first to be truly “wired.” Obama aides and allies are preparing a major expansion of the White House communications operation that would enable them to reach out directly to the supporters they have collected over 21 months without having to go through the mainstream media, the paper says. “He’s going to be the first president to be connected in this way, directly, with millions of Americans,” said Democratic strategist Joe Trippi. Obama’s campaign collected in excess of 10 million e-mail addresses, a database considered so valuable that it was briefly offered as collateral during a cash-flow crunch late in the campaign, the Post says.
—Christopher Perez

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Obama Presidency Good News for FNC

The election of Barack Obama to the presidency will usher in some changes at Fox News Channel, Broadcasting & Cable reports. The publication says the network thrives on opposition to the administration, which is good news for its trio of conservative hosts, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and, joining in the spring, Glenn Beck. FNC expects its post-election ratings to rise once the new administration takes over. In an interview, FNC Chairman-CEO Roger Ailes tells B&C, “I expect a dip over the next couple of months and then a big return to our numbers in late January, early February.”
—Christopher Perez

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Olbermann Extends MSNBC Contract

Keith Olbermann has signed an extension to his contract that will keep him at MSNBC through the next presidential election, TVNewser reports. The contract previously had the anchor with MSNBC until 2011. “I’m delighted that we can continue to lock ‘Countdown’ into the nation’s political dialogue through at least the next election,” Olbermann said.
—Christopher Perez

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CBS News Shuffles Correspondents

Chip Reid has been named chief White House correspondent for CBS News, TVNewser reports. Reid, who joined CBS News in August 2007, most recently covered John McCain’s campaign. Reid takes over the position from Jim Axelrod, who has covered President Bush since 2006. Axelrod will move to New York as CBS News’ national correspondent, replacing Nancy Cordes, currently on maternity leave, who will become Capitol Hill correspondent when she returns.
—Christopher Perez

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Third-Quarter Revenue Down for Tribune

Tribune Co. posted its third-quarter revenues showing an 8% drop from the same time last year, TVNewsday reports. Cash operating expenses were up 5%, or $10 million, from last year, while its television operating cash flow was down 34%, from $98 million in 2007 to $64 million in 2008. The company attributed its decrease in television revenue to lower cable copyright royalties and soft advertising demand.
—Christopher Perez

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Whiting Named Nielsen’s Vice Chair

The Nielsen Co. has promoted Susan D. Whiting to the post of vice chair, TVNewsday reports. Whiting most recently was an executive VP at Nielsen. Whiting joins the newly created office of the CEO, along with Chairman-CEO David Calhoun, and will work closely with the company’s clients and key stakeholders worldwide.
—Christopher Perez

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‘Heroes’ Makes Changes to Save Itself

The New York Times looks at the decisions NBC’s ‘Heroes’ has made to save itself from dismal ratings. The Times delves deep into the firing of executive producers Jeph Loeb and Jesse Alexander, which it suggests might have come too late, because any script overseen by the pair won’t make it to air before season’s end in May. Anonymous sources tell the Times the firing was ordered from the top by NBC Universal President-CEO Jeff Zucker, which a representative for NBC denies, and that both Loeb and Alexander failed to follow through on creator Tim Kring’s requests to keep plotlines simple and to eliminate extraneous characters.
—Christopher Perez

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Election Over Too Soon for Local TV

Local TV came out the winner in political ad spending during the election, according to preliminary estimates from Borrell Associates, MediaWeek reports. Seventy percent of all broadcast spending went to local TV stations. Radio was second with 10%, followed by national TV with 2.5% and national cable with 1.8%. The election really paid dividends to local TV stations in Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania. “We benefited handsomely,” said Hearst-Argyle Television President-CEO David Barrett during a third-quarter earnings call.
—Christopher Perez

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Nexstar’s Third-Quarter Revenue Up

Nexstar Broadcasting Group’s revenue for the third quarter grew 9% to a total of $70.3 million, compared with $64.5 million during the same time a year ago, TVNewsday reports. Broadcast cash flow was at $27.3 million, up from 2007’s third-quarter total of $22.8 million. “Revenue growth was driven by strong year-over-year increases in political, retransmission consent and eMedia revenues, which offset the softness of traditional television advertising in our markets,” said Perry A. Sook, Nexstar chairman, president and CEO.
—Christopher Perez

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Obama Deciding on New FCC Chair

BusinessWeek weighs in on President-elect Barack Obama’s choice to head the Federal Communications Commission. The publication says Obama is considering appointing the first black woman to the post while fielding recommendations from advisers who served in the FCC under Bill Clinton. Among the candidates are Julia Johnson, chair of Video Access Alliance, and Mignon Clyburn, a commissioner for the Public Service Commission of South Carolina. Campaign advisers on telecommunications-related issues Bill Kennard and Reed Hundt, both of whom have held the job before, also are in the running, BusinessWeek says.
—Christopher Perez

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SmartAds Bring Ads to Blank Video Spaces

Technology startup Keystream has developed a new system for advertising on online video “blank spaces”—where a video’s content shows a bare wall or grass field, for example—MediaPost reports. The system, called SmartAds, scans video content for “blank” spaces and sticks an overlay ad there without program interruption. The ads can play for 10 seconds every one to two minutes and can be targeted contextually and by audience demographic, MediaPost says. The SmartAds have generated click-through rates in the high single digits and overall interaction rates of better than 20% during testing, according to Keystream.
—Christopher Perez

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AdMeld Debuts New Platform, CEO

Ad optimization technology provider AdMeld launches its new platform today, designed to help publishers maximize revenue from digital ad networks and ad exchanges, MediaPost reports. The platform seeks to leverage dynamic pricing and advanced targeting to better route inventory from publishers to generate higher revenue for each ad served, MediaPost says. AdMeld also announced the appointment of CEO Michael Barrett, who joins AdMeld from News Corp.’s Fox Interactive Media. “[With AdMeld] both publishers and ad networks wind up making more money while spending significantly less time and resources,” Barrett said.
—Christopher Perez

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Election Not Over Soon Enough for Networks

The broadcast networks are hoping for brighter days now that the election has passed, the Los Angeles Times reports. With the campaign headlines and the Wall Street crisis stealing viewers since the new fall season began, the networks need “to catch a break,” the newspaper says. “The election did, on most nights, take away from the urgency to view prime-time television,” NBC Executive VP Mitch Metcalf told the paper.
—Christopher Perez

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ESPN360 Adds New Features

ESPN’s online service ESPN360.com is offering new features, MediaPost reports. The Web site is launching its new video player as well as “ESPN Conversations,” where online viewers can chat with each other during games. Also, ESPN360 will run a plethora of statistics during its college football game coverage, a service that will expand slowly to other events. The home page now offers advertising opportunities for the first time, and the site has increased the number of ads it inserts during live events.
—Christopher Perez

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Spelling Goes Back to ‘Smallville’

Tori Spelling will make a guest appearance on The CW, but it won’t be on “90210.” The actress is set to return on “Smallville” as gossip columnist Linda Lake, a character she originated early last year, Entertainment Weekly reports. But don’t write off a “90210” Spelling appearance yet, the magazine says. Spelling has been in “preliminary talks” to reprise her Donna Martin character on the CW spinoff.
—Christopher Perez

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Schwartz Talks About ‘Rockville’

The Los Angeles Times reports on its visit to a taping of TheWB.com’s new music-heavy Web series, “Rockville, CA,” and talks with creator Josh Schwartz. The show is Schwartz’s attempt to capture the excitement of being young even if most of the time your pockets were empty. “That age is such a time of little money and great dreams,” Schwartz tells the paper. “You care so much about music and it’s so fun, and this is an attempt to reflect that life.”
—Christopher Perez

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Game Over for Redstone at Midway

Sumner Redstone's daughter, Shari, resigned as chairwoman of Midway Games, the Wall Street Journal reports. The move could indicate that the family will sell Midway in order to reduce the debt load that forced it to sell some of its interest in Viacom and CBS last month.
—Jon Lafayette

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Fox Shuffles for the Long Term

Fox's scheduling guru says moving "House" and "Bones" is part of a plan to firm up the network's perennially weak fourth quarter ratings, TelevisionWeek reports. "If these moves work, it sets us up nicely for next fall," says Preston Beckman of Fox. "And with a little luck from our development, I think that for the first time we can put together a schedule that could actually let us be No. 1 in the fall."
—Jon Lafayette

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‘Knight Rider' Changing Direction, Cast

NBC's "Knight Rider" is retooling its creative direction and ejecting series regulars Sydney Tamiia Poitier, Yancey Arias and Bruce Davison beyond the show's initial 13-episodes, the Hollywood Reporter says. “We're moving away from the terrorist-of-the-week formula and closer to the original, making it a show about a man and his car going out and helping more regular people, everymen,” executive producer and showrunner Gary Scott Thompson tells the trade paper.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Showtime, BBC Return to 'Camelot'

Showtime and the BBC are teaming up for an updated series retelling the story of "Camelot," Daily Variety reports. The project comes from "The Tudors'" Michael Hirst and Morgan O’Sullivan. Hirst will serve as writer as well as executive producer with O'Sullivan and Douglas Rae. Showtime and BBC are financing the scripts together, the trade paper says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Rappaport to Develop Series for CBS

CBS has signed Michael Rappaport to a development deal to create, produce and star in an hour-long drama for the network, the Hollywood Reporter says. The untitled project about New York social workers will be produced by Denis Leary and Jim Serpico's Apostle Pictures and written by "Basketball Diaries" writer Bryan Goluboff, the Reporter says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Comcast Exec Raised Funds for Obama

Comcast's top fundraiser held a dinner last month for presidential candidate Barack Obama that generated $6.1 million in campaign contributions, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. How much that will help Comcast, which is anti-union and on the opposite side of the net neutrality issue from the Democrats, remains to be seen, the paper says.
—Jon Lafayette

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CBS News Boss Plots Comeback

Seam McManus, president of CBS News and CBS Sports, tells TelevisionWeek he thinks the network's third place newscasts are getting better. But he's perplexed about why Katie Couric's ratings haven't started to climb. "I think we’ve done such a good job and, through a lot of hard work on Katie Couric's part and Rick Kaplan's part, put out a product that people in the industry and viewers in general think is first-rate, and yet we haven't moved the needle yet. I continue to believe that hopefully will happen with time," he says.
—Jon Lafayette

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History Stokes 'Extreme Trains'

A real railroad conductor, Matt Brown hosts History's new series "Extreme Trains," which premieres Tuesday, USA Today says. "Trains"' eight episodes are packed with the technology, history and tough blue-collar workers that have popularized History Channel shows such as 'Ice Road Truckers' and 'Ax Men.'" the paper says.
—Jon Lafayette

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CTAM Discusses Recession Marketing

The cable industry is counting on the high-definition TV experience being exciting enough to keep people from shutting off service and switching to Web-based video as recession-wary consumers look to cut back, attendees at the opening panel of the Cable and Telecommunications Association for Marketing in Boston heard Sunday, according to TelevisionWeek. "The lean-back experience of TV is enhanced by HD and the size of the screen," said Rebecca Glashow, VP of Digital Media Distribution for Discovery Communications. That advantage offers a big marketing opportunity for cable, she said.
—Jon Lafayette

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SAG Reminds Members of 'Rule One'

The Screen Actors Guild reminded members they cannot work for non-union producers, even when doing new-media projects, Daily Variety reports. SAG said in a message to members that as of Jan. 1 it will "vigorously" enforce compliance with Rule One, as printed on the back of every membership card, the trade says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Thiessen Takes ‘Collar’ at USA

"Saved by the Bell" alum Tiffani Thiessen will co-star in USA Network's pilot "White Collar," the Hollywood Reporter says. She will play the wife of an FBI white-collar crime unit investigator. Also, Spike TV has cast Matthew Marsden and Kevin Chapman in its two-hour pilot for "Madso's War," about Boston's Irish mob, the trade paper says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Will Cable News Get a Honeymoon?

After drawing record viewers during a rough and tumble election season, the Associated Press wonders if viewers will still tune in to cable news for the traditional honeymoon period afforded to new presidents. Frank Sesno, a former CNNer and now a professor at George Washington University, expects audience losses will be modest. “The market has changed," Sesno tells the wire service. “I don't think this is episodic. I think it is structural and real and probably permanent. People have learned new viewing habits and new news consumption habits." Meanwhile, MSNBC, which billed itself as "The Place for Politics" during the campaign, is now running ads urging viewers to "experience the power of change," the New York Times says.
—Jon Lafayette

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Bill Burke Writes the Book on Turner

Bill Burke, who worked for Turner Broadcasting and ran the Weather Channel, has collaborated with Ted Turner on an autobiography called "Call Me Ted," the New York Times says. "The good thing for me is that Ted likes to spend his free time on the incredibly beautiful properties he owns," says Mr. Burke, who left the business world to raise his family in Maine. "We would have breakfast together, then he would go fishing and I would go fishing. Then he'd come back and he'd say, 'O.K. Burke, let's work.'"
—Jon Lafayette

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TV Land Orders Hidden-Camera Show

TV Land has ordered six episodes of a new hidden-camera series "Make My Day," Daily Variety reports. The project, from Michael Davies and Sony Pictures TV and based on a British series, will feature unsuspecting subjects faced with outlandish events and coincidences as set up by friends and family members. The show is expected to premiere next year in primetime, Variety says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Chase Mum on 'Sopranos' Ending

With a boxed set of "The Sopranos" coming out this week, David Chase has little to say about the series' controversial ending, the Los Angeles Times says. "Every time I say anything about the ending, I just make things worse," Chase tells the paper. —Jon Lafayette

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YouTube Adds MGM Films to Dancing Cats

YouTube, which was known for making short video clips popular on line, is now going to show some complete films and television shows from financially troubled MGM, the New York Times reports. With the popularity of Hulu showing that full-length professional content draws a crowd on the Web, YouTube is making nice to Hollywood to get a content upgrade.
—Jon Lafayette

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Spike TV, FremantleMedia Sign Funding Deal

Spike TV has partnered with FremantleMedia Enterprises for the global financing, distribution and marketing for three of the network's upcoming series "Jesse James Is Dead," "Deadliest Warrior" and "Surviving Disaster," Daily Variety reports. All three shows are expected to debut in 2009, the trade paper says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Sagal Shifts Gears as Motorcycle Mama

Katey Sagal has moved from being the vulgar Peggy Bundy on the Fox sitcom "Married…With Children" to the brutal yet vulnerable Gemma Teller on FX's "Sons of Anarchy," the New York Times says. "I wanted to do something different, to stretch, and this has provided that," Sagal tells the newspaper. "I don’t want to kill Peggy Bundy. I would just like her to step aside."
—Jon Lafayette

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Crossover Planned for 'Grey's,' 'Practice'

ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” and its spinoff, “Private Practice,” are preparing for a multi-episode crossover that will have characters from both series appearing on their Shonda Rhimes-created counterpart, TV Guide reports. The multi-episode TV event is scheduled for the February advertising sweeps period. Details about which actors will make guest appearances weren’t disclosed, but the magazine confirmed “Practice” star Kate Walsh will again be gracing the halls of Seattle Grace Hospital.
—Christopher Perez

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‘Man Block’ Package Brings Males to Advertisers

MTV Entertainment’s making it easy for advertisers to find that ever-elusive and oft-talked about 18-34 male demographic by picking and choosing series from across its networks and calling the package the “Man Block,” Advertising Age reports. One example is MTV Networks’ Spike TV and Comedy Central successfully selling a combination of two series with the same time slot and same desired demo. That “Man Block” of “The Ultimate Fighter” and “South Park” saw a sizable 6% share of the 18-34 male demo when ratings for the two shows were combined, AdAge says.
—Christopher Perez

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Cars.com Buys 60-second Super Bowl Spot

Cars.com returns to the Super Bowl commercial fold with its purchase of a 60-second spot on NBC during the game’s second quarter, Adweek reports. The spot kicks off the car-shopping Web site’s integrated $200 million marketing campaign, set to run nationally through most of 2009. NBC still has 10 spots available during its Feb. 1 broadcast of the Super Bowl that carry a pricetag of at least $3 million.
—Christopher Perez

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HBO Banks on ‘Death’ Performance

After a series of TV series missteps that include “John From Cincinnati,” “The Comeback” and “Tell Me You Love Me,” the Los Angeles Times reports on HBO’s desperate need for a hit. And it’s for that reason the channel has put all its eggs into development and production, hoping for a new golden era for the network that brought “The Sopranos” and “Sex and the City.” “I think we’re more pregnant with talent and with ideas and with development than we’ve ever been in our history,” HBO’s Co-President Richard Plepler tells the Times. “It’s not an exaggeration to say that we’re as excited about the future of this place as we’ve been in a long time.” A product of this increased focus on project development is the upcoming “Bored to Death,” whose New York City set the newspaper visited.
—Christopher Perez

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Nielsen’s OOH Report Suspended

The economy’s latest victim is Nielsen and IMMI’s syndicated Out-of-Home Report, which measured TV viewing outside the home, MediaWeek reports. The final report will cover OOH viewing through Nov. 9. “In the current climate, there is limited economic support for this new measurement service,” the company said in a statement. Nielsen doesn’t want to abandon the measuring of OOH viewing altogether, however. “We will continue to work on out-of-home measurement solutions, including efforts with IMMI,” Nielsen said.
—Christopher Perez

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CNN Hologram Experience ‘Crazy,’ Says Will.I.Am

Though he wasn’t an actual hologram, musician Will.I.Am talked to Entertainment Weekly about the experience of having his image beamed from Barack Obama’s victory celebration in Chicago to CNN’s studios in New York on Election Night. “Right after I walked through security, they asked if I would mind doing a hologram interview. I love CNN, so I went and did it. When I saw myself as the hologram talking to Anderson Cooper, it was crazy!” he tells EW. About his breakdancing at the end of the interview, Will.I.Am responded, “That was the child in me. I was, like, ‘I know this is historic and what not, but I have to do the wave.’”
—Christopher Perez

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HPA Honors ‘Daisies,’ ‘CSI’

ABC’s “Pushing Daisies” was a big winner at the third annual Hollywood Post Alliance Awards on Thursday, the Hollywood Reporter says. The HPA Awards honor top behind-the-scenes talent working in television, motion pictures and commercials. “Daisies” won awards for TV color grading and TV editing. CBS’ “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” won for post-production audio in TV.
—Christopher Perez

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Tiffani Thiessen Tapped for USA Pilot

Former “Saved by the Bell” and “Beverly Hills, 90210” star Tiffani Thiessen will co-star in USA Networks’ pilot “White Collar,” the Hollywood Reporter says. The actress will play Debbie, wife of the head of the FBI’s white-collar crime unit, to be played by Tim DeKay. The pilot focuses on the partnership between DeKay’s character and a brilliant con artist, played by Matthew Bomer (“Chuck”).
—Christopher Perez

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MTV Taps Clearspring for Widget Technology

MTV Networks has partnered with widget advertising company Clearspring Technologies, Adweek reports. MTV plans to use Clearspring’s tools to help push various ad-supported widgets onto blogs and social-networking sites while tracking the widgets’ performance, Adweek says. MTV hopes this new partnership will help see a return when its products are used outside of its own Web sites.
—Christopher Perez

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Obama Victory Lifts CNN Headline T-Shirt Sales

Barack Obama’s historic win on Election Day has prompted many a collector scrambling for keepsakes of the election. CNN is reaping the benefits of this mad rush for collectibles with sales of a T-shirt emblazoned with the news network’s headline of Obama’s victory, Adweek reports. In just 24 hours after CNN.com published the story calling the election for Obama, the site sold nearly 5,000 T-shirts reading “Obama Inspires Historic Victory.” Since April the site has allowed visitors to buy shirts bearing its headlines.
—Christopher Perez

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Local Interactive Advertising Growth Slowing

Up 47% this year, the growth of local interactive advertising is expected to stall considerably next year, a report by Borrell Associates found. MediaWeek reports that after growing relatively quickly over the last few years, the report predicts only an 8% increase for the advertising medium in 2009. Although its pace will have slowed, local interactive advertising still fares better than other forms of advertising. Offline media, the report found, will decline by 2% in 2009.
—Christopher Perez

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Lionsgate Cuts Positions, Employees

Citing the state of the economy, Lionsgate Entertainment gave pink slips to 17 employees Friday morning at its Santa Monica, Calif.-based independent movie and television studio today, the Los Angeles Times reports. All divisions of its production and distribution divisions were affected, including motion pictures, television, home entertainment, business affairs, finance and legal. The company expects to save $10 million in annual overhead with this morning’s layoffs and the elimination of 24 currently vacant positions. TV series produced by Lionsgate include A&E’s “Mad Men” and Showtime’s “Weeds.”
—Christopher Perez

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Gray Television Could Face NYSE Delisting

Television station owner Gray Television could face delisting after being notified by the New York Stock Exchange that it had failed to meet one of its listing standards, TVNewsday reports. Because its common stock share price and average share price hadn’t surpassed $1 over a consecutive 30-day trading period, the company now has six months to meet that NYSE requirement or face delisting. The company plans to notify the NYSE within the next 10 business days that it intends to cure the price deficiency.
—Christopher Perez

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Winfrey’s O at Home Magazine Folding

Hearst Magazines has announced it is folding O at Home magazine, a quarterly spinoff of its popular O—The Oprah Magazine, MediaWeek reports. A year ago the magazine started borrowing elements from O to try to generate interest, but it was all for naught. The magazine, the third Hearst title to close this year, will publish a final winter 2008 issue and thereafter fold its content into future issues of O.
—Christopher Perez

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‘24,’ ‘Lost’ Cast Recurring Roles

Fox’s “24” and ABC’s “Lost” are adding recurring cast members, the Hollywood Reporter says. Reiko Aylesworth will play smart and successful Amy on “Lost.” Previous TV credits for the actress include recurring roles on “24” and NBC’s “ER.” Speaking of “24,” Amy Price-Francis, who can be seen on A&E’s “The Cleaner,” joins the Fox drama as a ruthless attorney.
—Christopher Perez

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PPV Revenue Down for WWE

World Wrestling Entertainment is taking a beating from the weak economy, Daily Variety reports. Its pay-per-view revenue fell by 13% for the third quarter, which saw three high-profile WWE broadcasts—“The Great American Bash,” “SummerSlam” and “Unforgiven”—take in $16.4 million. However, the sports entertainment giant saw a 3% rise in digital media revenue and the price of its TV rights fees, which jumped from $22.8 million to $24.4 million.
—Christopher Perez

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ABC Affiliates Make Staff Cuts

The economy continues to take its toll on local television stations with two stations in Kansas and Washington letting go of employees. KTKA-TV, ABC’s affiliate in Topeka, Kan., laid off nine employees Thursday due to economic pressures, the Topeka Capital-Journal reports. Of the affected employees, most came from the station’s news and production divisions. KVEW-TV, another ABC affiliate that broadcasts to Washington’s Tri-Cities and Yakima markets, announced it was cutting 17 employees from its payroll, the Tri-City Herald reports. KTKA station manager and news director Ike Walker told the Capital-Journal, “There is a reorganization of the company. We’re trying to find efficiencies and make better use of our assets.”
—Christopher Perez

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Dingell Supporters Speaking Out

In response to a new challenge from Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., for the top House Energy & Commerce Committee seat, supporters of its current occupant, Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., are coming out to support the congressman, Broadcasting & Cable reports. “There is no doubt in my mind that at the end of the day, Chairman Dingell will still be referred to as Chairman Dingell,” said Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich. On Thursday, Rep. Waxman posted a statement on his Web site expressing his desire to challenge Dingell for the chairmanship. Though from the same party, the two congressman share different views of the broadcasting industry, the publication said.
—Christopher Perez

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Economy Drags on DirecTV

Despite posting a 14% increase in its third quarter, DirecTV still feels the negative effects of the struggling economy, the Wall Street Journal reports. The largest satellite provider in the U.S. added only 156,000 new subscribers for the quarter, a number that’s 35% down from the same time last year. AT&T’s dropping of DirecTV as a partner during the first quarter also contributed to the satellite company’s woes, the newspaper said.
—Christopher Perez

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FX Cancels Unscripted Series ’30 Days’

FX has canceled reality show “30 Days,” Broadcasting & Cable reports. The series and its fish-out-of-water premise, where participants lived in unfamiliar cultures or lifestyles for 30 days, was the last remaining unscripted show on the cable network. A spokesperson for FX told B&C it has no plans of dropping the unscripted genre altogether from its programming.
—Christopher Perez

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Palin Still a Big Get for Nets

She won't be vice president, but an interview with Gov. Sarah Palin is still being pursued by many of TV's biggest names, the Huffington Post reports. The governor's office has fielded requests from Barbara Walters, Oprah Winfrey, Larry King and others, the Web site says. "The intensity of all the interest is amazing. Everyone wants to talk to her," Palin spokesman Bill McCallister says.
—Jon Lafayette

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Fox Shuffles 'House,' 'Bones'

"House" is moving to Mondays and "Bones" is moving to Thursday as Fox plans to shake up its midseason prime time line up, TelevisionWeek says. The new series "Dollhouse" from Joss Whedon will air on Fridays, starting Feb. 13.
—Jon Lafayette

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ABC Asks Producers for 2% Cuts

ABC Studios is asking its series producers to reduce their budgets by 2% as part of a company-wide cost-cutting initiative at Walt Disney Co., Daily Variety reports. Decisions about where to cut are being left up to the showrunners, the trade paper says.
—Jon Lafayette

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McDermott Mans TNT's 'The Line'

Dylan McDermott will play the lead character in Jerry Bruckheimer's drama pilot for TNT titled "The Line," the Hollywood Reporter says. McDermott plays a veteran undercover LAPD officer running a secret unit, the trade paper says.
—Jon Lafayette

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Robin Unmasked by CW, Warner Bros.

Plans for a series about how Batman's sidekick Robin grew up have been scrapped by the CW and Warner Bros. TV, Daily Variety reports. "The Graysons" had been given a put pilot commitment, but "the concept didn't fit the current strategy for the Batman franchise," the studio said in a statement.
—Jon Lafayette

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No Asset Sales for Cablevision

Cablevision Systems says it is no longer actively considering the sale of assets including the cable networks in its Rainbow Media division, the Wall Street Journal says. Declarations by the Dolan family, which controls the cable operator, that it would consider moves to return cash to shareholders, such as asset sales and stock buybacks, had boosted its stock earlier this year. Now investors may be distrustful of the family again, the Journal says.
—Jon Lafayette

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Fuller to the Rescue on 'Heroes?'

With "Heroes" struggling in the ratings and executive producers Jeph Loeb and Jesse Alexander out of the pictures, former writer Bryan Fuller may return to the NBC series, Entertainment Weekly says. Fuller is currently working on "Pushing Daisies" on ABC and said he "will definitely be going back" to "Heroes" if "Daisies" gets plucked, the magazine says.
—Jon Lafayette

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Oprah's Man Will Be on Show

The Chicago Sun-Times found the mystery man Oprah Winfrey was leaning on (and crying on) at Barack Obama's victory celebration. He's Sam Perry, an Obama supporter from California, and he'll be on Oprah's show Friday.
—Jon Lafayette

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Sniping Resumes at MSNBC

With the election over, the personalities at MSNBC are again taking pot shots at one another, TVBarn.com says. Joe Scarborough and Chris Matthews had one exchange, and the network's comet, Rachel Maddow, was reportedly being compared to Ashleigh Banfield (remember her?) by insiders.
—Jon Lafayette

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New Ad Deals Unleashed at Animal Planet

No more pet food and kitty litter as sponsors on Animal Planet, Advertising Age says. The channel has toughened up its programming and is creating customized vignettes to attract advertisers including Pizza Hut, Honda and Mattel, the paper says.
—Jon Lafayette

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'Girl Next Door' to Wed

One of E!'s "Girls Next Door" is getting married, and it isn't to Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, the Associated Press reports. Hefner announced that Kendra Wilkinson, 23, is engaged to Philadelphia Eagles receiver Hank Baskett. Last month, Hefner and "No. 1" girlfriend Holly Madison called it quits. Twin 19-year-olds Karissa and Kristina Shannon are currently living with Hefner, according to the wire service.
—Jon Lafayette

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'South Park' Spoofs Obama

The ballots had barely been counted when "South Park" took a swipe at president-elect Barack Obama, the New York Post says. The Comedy Central cartoon Thursday night made fun of the bullet-proof glass surrounding the Democrat as he gave his victory speech.
—Jon Lafayette

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Whale of a Reality Show

"This is one spunky show," says the New York Times of "Whale Wars," debuting Friday on Animal Planet. The series tracks the crew of the Sea Shepherd, a ship that tries to stop whalers from killing whales off Antarctica. These sailor give great sound bites, the paper remarks. An example from the ship's captain: "You don't beg criminals to stop doing what they're doing."
—Jon Lafayette

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Obama, McCartney Draw MTV Europe Cheers

The crowd at the MTV Europe Music Awards cheered president-elect Barack Obama, who wasn't there in Liverpool, and Beatle Paul McCartney, who was, the Associated Press says. "Maybe Europeans will love us again now," said singer Katy Perry, who wore a dress with Obama's face on it.
—Jon Lafayette

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Critic John Leonard Dies

Critic John Leonard, who had a television column in New York magazine and served as a commentator on "CBS Sunday Morning" died of complications from lung cancer, the Huffington Post reports. Leonard was 69.
—Jon Lafayette

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HBO Wins Obama Documentary Rights

HBO has acquired the rights to a documentary following President-elect Barack Obama, which will premiere in 2009 on the network, Broadcasting & Cable reports. The film, produced by Edward Norton’s Class 5 Films, is still in production with camera crews following Obama since his trip to Africa in the summer of 2006. According to HBO, camera crews have had “unprecedented access to Obama, his senior campaign staff, family, friends and volunteers.” Permission to film Obama was granted after his decision to run for president. Director Amy Rice had asked months prior to the senator’s decision to run for president, B&C says.
—Christopher Perez

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Food Network Magazine Gets OK From Hearst

Food Network Magazine was given the green light by Hearst Corp., with the publisher deciding to go ahead with plans to publish the periodical based on the cable network, DMNews reports. The magazine was tested in mid-October with a distribution of 325,000 copies, and another test issue is planned for January. The first official issue will be June/July 2009. “We have had a great initial response to the first test issue, and feel confident that this magazine will resonate with consumers, said Hearst’s VP and Group Consumer Marketing Director Alec Casey. The magazine is being promoted by the Food Network and its Web site, FoodNetwork.com, along by other Hearst magazines and newsletters.
—Christopher Perez

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DTV Transition a Top Priority for Obama, GAO Says

According to the Government Accounting Office, President-elect Barack Obama should make February’s national digital TV transition a top priority for his administration, Broadcasting & Cable reports. Along with rebuilding the military and improving the country’s international image, the federal office considers the transition to digital TV event a critical and time-sensitive issue. The GAO’s list of such issues for the new administration can be found in the presidential transition section of the GAO Web site, B&C says.
—Christopher Perez

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YouTube Live-Streaming Launch this Month

YouTube will launch live-streaming videos beginning Nov. 22 at its “YouTube Live!” event in the style of startups UStream, Justin.TV, Stickam and Mogulus, reports the Silicon Alley Insider based on information from an unnamed company source. YouTube employees are reportedly talking as if the service’s launch is a definite inevitability. “Of course something could go wrong and they might not launch it,” said the source. A YouTube spokesperson told the Alley Insider, “We’re working with a third party to live-stream our event ‘Live.’ We have no product to announce at this time. The Alley Insider notes live-streaming as costly that could lead to a rise in bandwidth costs and suggest YouTube offer the new service for paying customers only.
—Christopher Perez

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Estevez to Make ‘Men’ Brother Act

“Two and a Half Men’s” Charlie Sheen will get a visit from his real-life brother, Emilio Estevez, when the actor-turned-director makes a guest appearance on the hit sitcom, TV Guide reports. Estevez will play an old partying buddy of Charlie’s who comes to visit. In a statement, Sheen said of Estevez’s guest appearance, “My dad did the show a couple of years ago, so it was only a matter of time until someone of my brother’s talent could also come and play in our sandbox.”
—Christopher Perez

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Jamey Sheridan to Guest on ‘Eli Stone’

Jamey Sheridan, whose TV credits include series regular jobs on “Chicago Hope” and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” will guest star on ABC’s “Eli Stone,” TV Guide reports. The veteran actor will play an evening news anchor “banished” to 5 a.m. Siberia who, thanks to the fine work of Eli & Co., has the misfortune of having his lucrative contract voided, the magazine says.
—Christopher Perez

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Stations Face Possible FCC Fines

The Federal Communications Commission may fine two TV stations for violating the agency’s children’s television advertising rules, Broadcasting & Cable reports. KSTW-TV in Tacoma, Wash., and San Francisco’s KBCW-TV could face a fine of $8,000 apiece for the violations. KSTW is accused of exceeding ad limits by one minute and two minutes in separate cases and for airing two “program-length” commercials in two shows that featured characters similar to those in the programs, B&C says. KBCW’s citation stems from airing a Disney on Ice commercial featuring a Tarzan character in the “Tarzan” show and for failing to include all requisite information in its public file, the publication says.
—Christopher Perez

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YouTube Soon Will Feature Features

YouTube soon will be not just for those with short attention spans. The online video site reportedly plans said to offer streaming, ad-supported feature films by at least one of the major movie studios, possibly as early as next month, CNET reports. “It’s not imminent, but it’s going to happen,” said an anonymous movie studio executive privy to the negotiations between YouTube’s parent company, Google, and the major movie companies.
—Christopher Perez

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House Energy & Commerce Chairman Challenged

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., is challenging colleague John Dingell, D-Mich., for the House Energy & Commerce Committee chairmanship, Broadcasting & Cable reports. In a letter on his Web site announcing his challenge for the position, Waxman said, “We will need the very best leadership in Congress and our committees to succeed.” According to the publication, given Dingell’s long tenure as a member of the House, the congressman has cozy relationships with broadcasters. Waxman’s relationship with broadcasting is anything but, having previously made efforts to increase regulations on over-the-counter drug advertising and expressing concern about product placement.
—Christopher Perez

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GSN Makeover Unveiled Today

Game Show Network has a whole new look beginning today, Multichannel News reports. The network’s rebrand has officially launched with a Web site upgrade and new on-air graphics making their debuts. “The on-air package revolves around nine movable puzzle-piece elements. The fun comes from how these simple shapes come to life and expand into a rich world of playfulness and fun that everyone can relate to. … As we animated the graphics, we wanted the network viewer to feel like they are playing a game,” said Jonas Morganstein, creative director of Buster, the firm behind the network’s new look.
—Christopher Perez

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DirecTV Unveils Ad Sales Web Site

DirecTV launched its advertising sales business-to-business Web site, DirecTVadsales.com, today, Multichannel News reports. The satellite operator hopes to make it easier for advertisers to target the right audience among its 17 million subscribers. The site offers examples of current campaigns, interactive offerings, news about new clients and contact information to discuss rates and flights, Multichannel says. Information on DirecTV’s ad sales offerings is also available on the site.
—Christopher Perez

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Rivera Expected to Head FCC Transition Team

President-elect Barack Obama is expected to appoint Washington lawyer Henry Rivera as head of his Federal Communications Commission transition team, Multichannel News reports. Rivera, a Democrat, previously served at the FCC from 1981 to 1985 under Republican FCC chairman Mark Fowler and was a partner at the same law firm where current FCC chairman Kevin Martin formerly worked. During a phone interview with B&C, Rivera said, “The only thing I can tell you is that there will be a release of the folks involved in that. I just can’t comment on anything. They told us not to talk to the press.”
—Christopher Perez

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DeGeneres, Takei Respond to Gay Marriage Ban

The passage of California ballot initiative Proposition 8, which amends the state constitution to ban gay marriage, has drawn emotional responses from Ellen DeGeneres and “Star Trek” actor George Takei, both of whom got married this year, TV Guide reports. “It was astounding to think that the hard-won equality that made my recent marriage to Brad Altman [possible] would no longer be possible for others,” Takei said. In a statement, talk show host DeGeneres said of the passing of the law, “[W]hen it was clear that Proposition 8 had passed in California, I can’t explain the feeling I had. I was saddened beyond belief.”
—Christopher Perez

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Obama to Hold Press Conference Friday

Barack Obama will hold his first press conference Friday afternoon as the president-elect, the Hollywood Reporter says. The conference, to be held at a yet-to-be-disclosed Chicago location, is expected to be a media frenzy, with broadcast networks expected to carry it live. The newly elected president is said to be downplaying the event by not calling it a news conference, a TV executive told the Reporter. “No matter what they’re calling it, it’s likely to get a lot of attention,” said the anonymous executive.
—Christopher Perez

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CNN’s Holograms Not Actual Holograms

The life-size holograms CNN ushered out on Election Night weren’t really holograms, Canada’s CBC News reports. Interviews with projected images of CNN reporter Jessica Yellin and rapper Will.I.Am didn’t feature holograms because anchors Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper were speaking to empty spaces, CBC says. The images of Ms. Yellin and Will.I.Am that viewers saw at home were actually tomograms, the Web site notes. Hans Jurgen Kreuzer, a professor of theoretical physics at Dalhousie University, told CBC that the technology needed to create holograms of big objects is still a ways off.
—Christopher Perez

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Lawlor to Replace Peterson at Scripps TV

Brian Lawlor will take over the top spot at Scripps TV group when Bill Peterson retires at the end of the year, TVNewsday reports. Mr. Lawlor has 20 years of experience in the broadcasting industry and currently acts as the corporate VP of sales for Scripps’ TV division, the Web sites says. “Brian inherits a strong and aggressive group of stations thanks to Bill Peterson. Since Bill took over the division in 2004, the portfolio of Scripps TV stations has outperformed its markets, and that’s largely attributable to Bill’s vision and innovation,” Rich Boehne, president and CEO of Scripps, said in a statement. Scripps owns ten stations in nine markets, including Detroit’s WXYZ-TV, the Web site notes.
—Christopher Perez

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Panel Discusses Comedy’s Future Under Obama

A panel of experts recently discussed whether Barack Obama will provide as many laughs as George W. Bush’s presidency, the Hollywood Reporter says. “Obama is going to raise the intelligence of the jokes,” panelist Roseanne Barr said. “The Daily Show” co-creator Lizz Winstead said Obama as president wouldn’t make it tougher to write jokes and any Obama material would likely revolve around how he handles power, the newspaper says. Conservative commentator Monica Crowley disagreed with the two comics, adding that comedians generally find little fun in the new president, the newspaper notes. The discussion, which part of the New York Comedy Festival, also featured cartoonist Ted Rall, Baratunde Thurston of “The Onion” and conservative blogger and pundit Robert A. George.
—Christopher Perez

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Post-Election Changes Made at Cable News Nets

With the election over, the cable news networks unveiled new programming lineups and personnel changes on Wednesday, Daily Variety reports. MSNBC launched a new on-air tagline—“The Power of Change”—that lifts heavily from President-elect Barack Obama’s historic campaign victory, the newspaper notes. The network also changed the name of David Gregory’s “The Race for the White House” to “1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.” Over at CNN, the network’s 8 p.m. offering was renamed “Campbell Brown: No Bias, No Bull” from the pre-election title “Campbell Brown: Election Center,” while Fox News Channel’s “America’s Election HQ” has become “America’s News HQ,” the newspaper reports. The FNC show will be totally revamped next spring when former CNN Headline News commentator Glenn Beck moves into its 5 p.m. time slot, the newspaper notes.
—Christopher Perez

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CNN Tops Election Returns

On a night when about 71 million people tuned in to watch the climax of a high-rated election campaign, CNN drew more viewers than any other channel, the Washington Post reports. TV’s biggest audience since the Super Bowl was 12 million viewers larger than the crowd that watched the votes come in as President Bush beat John Kerry four years ago.
—Jon Lafayette

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Black Broadcasters Celebrate on Air

Correspondents on BET openly celebrated the election of the first black president, the New York Times says. On other networks, some black journalists showed their feelings, but said they remained professional while reporting the story.
—Jon Lafayette

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Media Hops on Obama Bandwagon

Following Barack Obama's win on Election Day, many TV commentators got emotional in describing the historic occasion—possibly to the point of getting carried away, the Washington Post says. "I think our excitement at the imminent history matched the nation's," said MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, who compared Obama's election to the day man first walked on the moon.
—Jon Lafayette

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ABC Disowns Milano's 'Parents'

ABC has canceled its plans for the midseason comedy "Single With Parents," Daily Variety reports. The show, starring Alyssa Milano, had the plug pulled after disagreements about the creative direction. The show would have featured Milano as a single mother trying to juggle different parts of her life and her dysfunctional family, Variety says. ABC has also reduced its orders for midseason dramas "The Castle" and "The Unusuals," the Hollywood Reporter says. Each has been cut from 13 episodes to 10. The network feels it has a crowded inventory of series launching in midseason, the trade paper says, citing unnamed sources familiar with the situation.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Van Der Beek, Denman Join Fox's 'Adams'

James Van Der Beek and David Denman will co-star in Fox's pilot "Eva Adams," the Hollywood Reporter says. The show, about a sexist male agent who becomes a woman after a witch cast a spell, will feature Van Der Beek and Denman as fellow sports agents at Adams' firm.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Big Changes at Comcast's CN8

Comcast is planning big changes at its CN8 local programming channel, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The channel, which operates out of Philadelphia, Boston and Washington, is struggling with low ratings and a tough local ad market.
—Jon Lafayette

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Cablevision has 3Q Profit

Cablevision Systems swung to a profit in the third quarter from a loss a year ago, the company reported Thursday. Net income was $27.1 million, or 9 cents a share, compared to a loss of $79.3 million, or 27 cents, a year ago. Revenue rose 15% to $1.7 billion from $1.5 billion a year ago. CEO James Dolan said "despite the current economic conditions," the gains were fueled by "ongoing strength of our core businesses as the company's cable operations, Madison Square Garden and Rainbow all generated solid revenue growth for the quarter." Cablevision's earnings release can be found here.
—Jon Lafayette

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A&E 'Wonders' With Mandalay, Fox TV Studios

A&E is developing "Signs & Wonders," a procedural drama from Mandalay Television and Fox TV Studios, Daily Variety reports. The show, produced by Jed Mercurio, focuses on a psychiatrist at a university and a team of grad students as they solve suspicious medical cases, the trade paper says. The project is one of 13 in development for Mandalay, the Variety adds.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Fields Leaves 'Betty' for 'Bar'

"Ugly Betty" executive producer Joel Fields is leaving the show to serve as a writer and producer for TNT's "Raising the Bar," the Hollywood Reporter says. Fields joined the ABC dramedy eight months ago to help with its transition to New York. The network has since approved the rest of the season and considers Field's task completed, the Reporter says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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NFL Moves to Really Small Screen

Thursday night's Cleveland Browns-Denver Broncos football game will be shown on the very small screen under a $500 million wireless broadcast deal the NFL signed with Sprint, the Wall Street Journal reports. "Live compelling content is a game changer in the mobile industry," Steve Gaffney, Sprint's director of sports sponsorships, tells the paper.
—Jon Lafayette

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Meet 'Grey's' New Hunk

Things heat up on Thursday's episode of "Grey's Anatomy" between Sandra Oh's character and a newcomer, the former Iraq War medic played by Kevin McKidd, says USA Today. In an interview with the paper, the actor says, "as soon as I heard the pitch for the character, I was sold on it. It's a different energy and a different viewpoint. I thought it was an important story to tell, especially on a prime-time TV show."
—Jon Lafayette

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Disney XD Eyes 'Band' Series

Disney XD has given the greenlight to its first live-action pilot "I'm With the Band," about a tween boy tapped to play lead guitar in a rock band looking for a comeback, the Hollywood Reporter says. The project, from creators Michael Kaplan and Ron Rappaport, is planned as part of Disney XD's launch next February after Toon Disney gets the rebranding treatment, the trade paper says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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'Ruby' Tackles Weight on Style

Ruby Gettinger, the subject of a new series on Style, is trying to get down to 145 pounds, according to the Los Angeles Times. The effort is remarkable considering she weighed 477 last year, when doctors told her she was running out of time to improve her health.
—Jon Lafayette

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Diller's IAC Hurt by Breakup Costs

Barry Diller's IAC/Interactive Corp. reported a third-quarter loss because of costs associated with its breakup into five companies, the Wall Street Journal says. Revenues rose 10% to $369.3 million.
—Jon Lafayette

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NFL Network Still Blocked by Cable

If you didn’t get the NFL Network last year, or the year before, you still can't get it, the New York Times says. NFL Network is about to start its eight-game schedule of live regular season telecasts, but it doesn’t have carriage deals with Time Warner Cable, Cablevision and Charter, and you have to pay extra to see it on Comcast and Dish, the paper says.
—Jon Lafayette

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Cox Plans Job Cuts

Cox Communications plans to cut its work force by about 460 jobs, or 2%, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says. The company had revenues of $8.3 billion last year and recently announced plans to offer wireless phone service next year. "Essentially we are operating our business to position for future growth," said spokesman David Grabert. —Jon Lafayette

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'Dancing' Over for Lucci

Say goodbye to Susan Lucci, this week's celebrity to be eliminated from "Dancing with the Stars," the Associated Press reports. "I just have to say, I have had the most incredible experience here. I leave with a life experience, something I will never forget," the soap opera actress said on her way off the show.
—Jon Lafayette

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Fey Putting Palin to Rest

Tina Fey will no longer play Sarah Palin, the VP candidate who did wonders for her career and the ratings for “Saturday Night Live,” Entertainment Weekly reports. “I have to retire just because I have to do my day job,” Fey tells the magazine, referring to her work on NBC’s “30 Rock” as an actor, writer and producer. Fey would prefer to pass the Palin torch to a current cast member of the late-night sketch show. “I think [Kristen] Wiig would do a really good job. Maybe we could get a real torch. Or I could give Wiig the Palin wig.”
—Christopher Perez

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Schumer Sparks New Fairness Doctrine Debate

Comments made by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., during an interview with Fox on Wednesday have prompted concerns whether a new Fairness Doctrine will be imposed on broadcast networks and talk radio, Broadcasting & Cable reports. Sen. Schumer told Fox the people who want the Federal Communications Commission to regulate “pornography” on the airwaves are inconsistent in not urging politically fair and balanced discourse on the same airwaves. Now with a newly elected, Democrat-controlled White House and Congress, opponents of a reinstated Fairness Doctrine are worried. However, despite Schumer’s comments, President-elect Barack Obama has told B&C via a top aide that he has no interest in a new Fairness Doctrine. In 1987, the FCC abandoned the doctrine, calling it unconstitutional. That move is largely responsible for the rise of conservative talk radio and for the successful careers of right-wing radio personalities such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, the publication says.
—Christopher Perez

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Election Rocks Senate Commerce Committee

Newly elected members of Congress can provide real change and dramatically affect the future of television as some members of the Senate Commerce Committee fight for their political careers in close Senate races, TVNewsday reports. Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, longtime ally to the broadcast networks, Senate Commerce Committee member and recent convicted felon, is holding onto the smallest of leads over Democratic challenger Mark Begich. The publication notes that a loss for Stevens would mean a loss for the broadcast networks. Senate Commerce Committee member Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., also is fighting for his seat, against Democrat Jeff Merkley. Another member, Sen. John Sununu, R-N.H., lost his race to Democrat Jeanne Shaheen. Democratic members facing re-election all defeated their Republican challengers.
—Christopher Perez

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A Calm, Historic Election Night for TV

Unlike the past two presidential elections, television network coverage of Election Night 2008 proved to be high on history and melodrama and low on voting irregularities, petty arguments and premature electoral vote calls, the Associated Press reports. “It’s the end of apathy,” NBC News’ Tom Brokaw said on air. “People want to get involved in their political system.” The feel-good positivity was felt at CNN, too. “This is a really good candidate, a natural as we say in sports,” said CNN’s Republican analyst Bill Bennett of Barack Obama.
—Christopher Perez

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Hasselbeck Praises Obama on ‘The View’

“The View” co-host and John McCain supporter Elisabeth Hasselbeck took her candidate’s loss Tuesday night in stride and with grace, speaking admiringly of President-elect Barack Obama on Wednesday’s edition of the talk show, the Los Angeles Times reports. “Today is a victory for this country: to have Barack Obama be our president, the first black president, the first black first lady,” Hasselback told the live and TV viewing audience. “To have the amount of voters—14 million more voters in this election than the last—present themselves and vote in this election. Today is a victory.”
—Christopher Perez

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Obama Picks Emanuel as Chief of Staff

President-elect Barack Obama has named his first cabinet appointment, the Huffington Post reports. Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., has accepted Obama’s offer to be White House chief of staff. With the congressman on board, the line between Washington and Hollywood will be much more direct once the new president takes office. Rep. Emanuel is the brother of Hollywood talent agent Ari Emanuel, co-founder of talent agency Endeavor. A-listers on Endeavor’s roster include Tina Fey, Larry David, Ricky Gervais, Jude Law and Ben Affleck.
—Christopher Perez

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NGC’s ‘Expedition Week’ Plays Online Game

To coincide with its first annual Expedition Week, the National Geographic Channel will launch an online adventure game Sunday, MediaPost reports. Players will create a virtual alter-ego that ventures to find artifacts and earn virtual cash, says MediaPost. The network also plans to give on-air codes that will unlock various bonus games within the game.
—Christopher Perez

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AT&T to Cap Monthly Bandwidth Usage

Like Comcast before it, AT&T will soon be limiting the amount of bandwidth its subscribers use each month for downloading, MediaPost reports. Starting this month, AT&T subscribers who pay $14.99 per month for speeds of 768 Kbps will be limited to 20 GB monthly, which is the equivalent to downloading 10 standard-definition movies, MediaPost says. Subscribers who pay $55 per month will have bandwidth limits up to 150 GB monthly. Time Warner Cable is said to be testing bandwidth caps as well, to a lesser degree.
—Christopher Perez

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Hard-to-Reach Demo Uses Hulu

A report by Solutions Research Group found most Hulu users are part of a coveted, hard-to-reach demographic, MediaPost says. Hulu users skew young, with an average age of 32, and are predominately males–who make up about two-thirds of Hulu’s audience. The study also found the average Hulu user earns 22% more than the national average and is tech-friendly, with 68% of the audience owning a laptop and 30% who own a smartphone. This should be great news for News Corp. and NBC Universal, joint partners in the online venture, since this same demographic is also least likely to watch appointment television. “The very audience that’s proving elusive in linear is right up there,” said SRG analyst Kaan Yigit.
—Christopher Perez

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U.S. Media Eyeing India’s Ad Growth

India’s huge population is a market just waiting to be tapped, so it should come as no surprise that U.S. media companies have already made their presence known on the subcontinent, the Wall Street Journal reports. Viacom, NBC Universal, News Corp. and Time Warner have already staked their claims by owning or backing various channels, the newspaper says. Hindi-language channel Colors has backing from Viacom while NBCU has invested $150 million in NDTV Imagine, a Hindi channel owned by an Indian media company. Time Warner’s Turner Networks, along with India’s Alva Brothers Entertainment, is the owner of a yet-to-be-named entertainment channel. If there’s a leader among them it’s News Corp., whose Star TV’s Star Plus channel has dominated India’s TV ratings for years.
—Christopher Perez

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Philbin Extends Disney Contract

Regis Philbin has extended his contract with the Walt Disney Co. and will continue hosting “Live with Regis & Kelly” until 2011, the New York Daily News reports. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed but the contract is expected to inhibit Philbin’s range of movement to other networks considerably, keeping the legendary host on projects for Disney and its broadcast network, ABC. In recent years, Philbin has worked on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” and last season hosted CBS’ “Million Dollar Password” game show.
—Christopher Perez

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Franken’s Senate Race Too Close to Call

“Saturday Night Live” alum Al Franken is in a dead heat with Republican incumbent Norm Coleman in Minnesota’s Senate election, the Associated Press reports. The comedian-author, running on the Democratic ticket, is behind Coleman by 571 votes out of a total 2.9 million cast. Trailing both Franken and Coleman was the Independent Party’s Dean Barkley with 15% of the vote. “We won’t know for a little while who won the race, but at the end of the day we will know the voice of the electorate is clearly heard,” Franken said. The small margin between the two candidates is well within the state’s automatic recount threshold, which means a winner might not be announced until December, the newswire said. Before Coleman, the seat was held by Franken’s friend Paul Wellstone, who died in a 2002 plane crash.
—Christopher Perez

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‘ER’ Creator Crichton Dies at 66

Best-selling author Michael Crichton died Tuesday in Los Angeles at age 66. He had been privately battling cancer, CBS News reports. The author of “Jurassic Park” and creator of “ER,” whose father, John Henderson Crichton, was executive editor at TelevisionWeek sister publication Advertising Age, won an Emmy, a Peabody and a Writers Guild of America Award for his work on the NBC hospital drama. "Michael Crichton was a modern-day Renaissance man. He was a physician, writer, director, and producer—few people have done so many things so well. As creator and producer of NBC’s 'ER,' he helped change the face of televised drama, and his 'Jurassic Park" movies are enduring classics. Everywhere he turned, Michael made an indelible impact. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family," NBC Universal President-CEO Jeff Zucker said in a statement.

—Christopher Perez

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GLAAD ‘Disheartened’ by ‘Grey’s’ Exit

With Brooke Smith exiting ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” after the Nov. 6 episode, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation is saddened to see her character, Dr. Erica Hahn, go, given the current dearth of gay, lesbian and bisexual characters on television, TV Guide reports. In a statement, GLAAD president Neil. G. Giuliano said, “[W]e are disheartened that the burgeoning relationship between Callie and Erica on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ has come to an end. Because there are so few lesbian characters on network television, we hope that ABC and ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ will commit to further developing Callie’s character and her relationships, and continue providing this important representation on one of TV’s most-watched shows.” Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Callie Torres is played by Tony winner Sara Ramirez.
—Christopher Perez

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More Ad Regulation Expected Under Obama

With Barack Obama’s victory Tuesday night, pharmaceutical companies and advertising groups fear there may be more restrictions placed on their direct-to-consumer advertising once the senator takes office in January, Advertising Age reports. Given Obama’s campaign promise to reform healthcare, changes expected by the advertising and pharmaceutical industries include restricted advertising of certain kinds of drugs, moratoriums on the advertising of new drugs and requiring the Food & Drug Administration to review ads more stringently, AdAge says.
—Christopher Perez

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Blonsky to Make Friends With ‘Betty’

Nikki Blonsky, star of last year’s feature film “Hairspray,” will guest star on ABC’s “Ugly Betty,” TV Guide reports. Blonsky’s character will be an assistant at Mode magazine’s rival, Elle, who befriends America Ferrera’s Betty on the episode. The role, however, isn’t as friendly as it seems, with TV Guide saying the character has ulterior motives in hooking up with the aesthetically challenged protagonist. The episode, scheduled to air by year’s end, will mark Blonsky’s first prime-time television appearance.
—Christopher Perez

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Election Will be Missed by Local TV

Local television stations are bracing for a rough 2009 now that the election is over, the Boston Globe reports. According to data from advertising tracker TNS Media Intelligence/CMAG, stations in Massachusetts and nearby New Hampshire received $23 million this year in political advertising alone, with both presidential campaigns pouring $6.5 million in advertising dollars to stations in both states. “This will be the first even year since 1979 that revenue actually declined from the year before,” the Television Bureau of Advertising’s Gary Belis told the newspaper. “2010 can’t get here soon enough.”
—Christopher Perez

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Networks Call Obama Victory

Television networks at 11 p.m. EST called Sen. Barack Obama the winner of an election campaign that generated huge voter turnout and big ratings, TelevisionWeek reports. As early as 9 p.m., CBS quoted an aid to Republican John McCain as saying he needed “a miracle” to avoid defeat. "Fearful to an almost pathological point of calling states too soon (and being criticized for it later), networks took turns being wildly cautious, perhaps none more so than CNN," the Washington Post says. "When it could have been calling Ohio for Obama, CNN instead cut to an election-night performance by Hank Williams Jr., a quixotic editorial decision and a ridiculous waste of time." Even Comedy Central stopped joking long enough to announce Obama had won, according to the Associated Press. Campaign addicts now confront the morning after, the Wall Street Journal says.
-- Jon Lafayette

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Obama Policies May Target AT&T, Comcast

With an Obama administration on the way, AT&T and Comcast may find some of their business practices under scrutiny, Bloomberg reports. The Democrat favors “net neutrality” by Internet service providers. The policy is favored by Internet-based business such as Google, Amazon.com and EBay, the news service says.
-- Jon Lafayette

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Time Warner Earnings Flat

Time Warner reported flat financial results for the third quarter, and said it was adjusting its full-year business outlook in the face of a "challenging economic environment." Net income was $1.07 billion, or 30 cents a share, compared with $1.09 billion, or 29 cents a share, in the same quarter a year ago. Revenues were $11.7 billion in the quarter, little changed from last year. Earnings were up at Time Warner's networks and cable segments, while AOL continued to be a drag. Ad revenues at Turner Broadcasting were up 9%, a contrast to Viacom's networks, which were down 2% for the quarter. Because of a charge of $100 million due to restructuring of its magazine division, as well as the economic outlook, the company said it expected adjusted operating income to be up 5% for the year, compared to its earlier estimate of 7% to 9% growth.
Time Warner’s earnings release can be found here. Time Warner Cable beat profit expectations for the third quarter, but lowered its full-year forecasts, according to Reuters.
--Jon Lafayette

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Couric the Comeback Kid

Not long ago, a great media guessing game was when CBS was going to part ways with "Evening News" anchor Katie Couric. Now in the New York Observer she's lobbying for the newscast to be an extra half hour long. Couric's performance during the presidential campaign is responsible for the change. She used the elections "to make herself a commodity again. Not the too expensive piece of furniture the Tiffany network had bought and regretted, but the game-changing political journalist she aspired to be when she first took the 'Evening News.' Hers was the most memorable interview of the 2008 election," the Observer says.
-- Jon Lafayette

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'Bachelor,' 'Beauty' Get Debut Dates

ABC set Jan. 5 as opening night for two reality series: "The Bachelor" and "True Beauty," TelevisionWeek reports. "True Beauty" is a new show from Ashton Kutcher and Tyra Banks, while "Bachelor" is entering its 13th round.
-- Jon Lafayette

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CBS Orders Sixth 'Jesse Stone' Flick

CBS has ordered a sixth film in the "Jesse Stone" series starring Tom Selleck, the Hollywood Reporter says. The order comes before the debut of the fifth film in the franchise about a small-town police chief. Returning in the cast for the new film are Kathy Baker, Kohl Sudduth, William Devane, William Sadler and Saul Rubinek, along with new addition Krista Allen, the trade paper says. Air dates for the films have not been announced.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Cable News Looks to Keep Viewers After Election

Many cable news networks hope the coverage of the remaining "burning issues" will be enough to keep the strong ratings they had in the months leading up to the presidential election, the Hollywood Reporter says. "After a massive story like this, of course there's going to be some erosion," CNN U.S. President Jon Klein said Tuesday. "A certain number of the audience that has been watching doesn't normally watch news."
—Sergio Ibarra

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FCC Makes 'White Space' Ruling

The Federal Communications Commission approved the use of the area between broadcast TV signals—known as "white space"—for new wireless devices, TelevisionWeek reports. While high-tech companies including Google and Microsoft says the decision will hasten the rise of a "wi-fi on steroids," broadcasters are worried that the devices could interfere with their picture quality.
-- Jon Lafayette

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Microsoft Focuses Silverlight on Web Video

Microsoft's Silverlight software is shaping up as a challenger to Adobe's Flash for providing Web sites with high quality graphics and video, USA Today says. Both Netflix and Blockbusters are using the Microsoft product to show movies online. "There's no question this is the biggest threat to Adobe in years," Michael Olson, an analyst at Piper Jaffray, tells the paper. "But the market for online video is massive. There's room for both Silverlight and Flash."
-- Jon Lafayette

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Gannett Chief Dubow Takes Pay Cut

Craig Dubow, chairman, president and CEO of newspaper and television station owner Gannett, is taking a $200,000 salary cut, Editor & Publisher says. Dubow said he wanted to share in the sacrifices being made by other employees at the company. "I have great empathy for those employees and their families who have lost their jobs. I also recognize that our employees are working harder and harder to produce results in a challenging business environment," he said in a company memo. Dubow will earn 17% less than his $1.2 million base salary. (With stock awards, his total compensation is about 7.5 million.)
-- Jon Lafayette

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Sophomore Shows in Jeopardy

TV by the Numbers says that it's unlikely that "Lipstick Jungle," "Pushing Daisies," "Eli Stone," or "Dirty Sexy Money" will be on their networks' midseason schedules. "Life," which has been moved to Wednesday night by NBC, also is on the bubble, the Web site says.
-- Jon Lafayette

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Networks Continue to Lose Viewers

So far this fall, viewership of the Big Four broadcast networks is down 9% at a time when total TV viewing is up 2%, USA Today notes. Among the factors hurting the broadcasters are the residual effects of the Writers Guild of America strike, the presidential campaign and the increasing use of digital video recorders and online video, the paper says.
-- Jon Lafayette

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Amanpour to Get CNN Show

CNN's Christiane Amanpour is expected to get her own show on the network, the New York Post says. Page Six says she was angr the network gave a show about international affairs to Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria. A CNN spokesperson said the two were "good friends," according to the paper.
-- Jon Lafayette

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Faustino Lands Crackle Web Series

"Married… With Children" vet David Faustino has signed with Sony TV for a new Web series, "Star-ving," for the company's online video site Crackle.com, Daily Variety reports. Faustino will serve as executive producer, along with Corin Nemec, Todd Bringewatt and Sam Kass. The project, set to start production later this fall for a debut date early next year, is about a man who inherits a "struggling" porn store and loses his wife to a rapper and now finds himself asking for money from his Tinsel Town friends, the trade paper says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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TNT Adds to 'Line,' 'Bunker' Casts

TNT's drama pilot "The Line" has tapped Logan Marshall-Green, Omari Hardwick and Nicki Aycox to star, the Hollywood Reporter says. The project, from executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer, writer Doug Jung, Jonathan Littman and director Danny Cannon, is about an undercover police squad in Los Angeles. The cable network has also cast Scott Tony Curran in its pilot "Bunker Hill," the Reporter says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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U.S. Media Companies Invade India

Viacom, Time Warner, NBC Universal and News Corp. all have channels battling for market share in India, where the ad business is booming, the Wall Street Journal reports. The emergence of the new channels "is driven by the opportunity of scale that India represents -- and it has resulted in an extraordinarily competitive moment," Steve Marcopoto, the Asia chief executive of Time Warner's Turner Networks, tells the paper.
-- Jon Lafayette

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Edwards Eases Back Into 'ER'

After being away for six years, Anthony Edwards is returning to "ER" for a cameo appearance next Thursday, the Associated Press says. "It was really like going back to high school, in the best way. It was like going back to your favorite class and having your favorite teacher. ... It took about a half an hour — and after about a half an hour, I really felt like I'd never left," the actor tells the wire service. Edwards, whose character died at the end of the 2002 season, appears in flashback scenes. Another "ER" alum, Eriq La Salle will serve as a guest director for an upcoming episode in the series' final season, Daily Variety reports. La Salle also left the show in 2002 to pursue writing and directing for other projects.
-- Jon Lafayette

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Olbermann Gives Affleck an A

Keith Olbermann thought Ben Affleck did a terrific job imitating him on "Saturday Night Live," TVNewser says. The MSNBC anchor says Affleck sent him one of his cue cards from the sketch with a funny message scrawled in the corner.
-- Jon Lafayette

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MLB Network Sends Vasgersian to the Plate

Major League Baseball’s new television network is nearing an agreement to bring Fox broadcaster Matt Vasgersian on as its first studio host, Broadcasting & Cable reports. Mr. Vasgersian, play-by-play announcer for the San Diego Padres, also has worked with the Milwaukee Brewers and with NBC during its Beijing Olympics broadcasts in August, B&C says.
—Danny King

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CTAM to Honor Volunteers

CTAM will eschew its tradition of giving its annual chairman’s award to an individual and will instead award it collectively to the volunteers who run the group’s 15 chapters in the U.S., Europe and Caribbean, Multichannel News reports. The award will be presented Nov. 11, Multichannel News reports.
—Danny King

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Outdoor Channel Gets ‘Shot Show’

Outdoor Channel agreed to a five-year deal with the National Shooting Sports Foundation to continue producing the shooting series “Shot Show TV,” Multichannel News reports. Additionally, the network will make video-on-demand versions of the series while premiering the show on its own linear channel, Multichannel News says.
—Danny King

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KTLA Brings in New Sales Execs

Tribune Co.’s Los Angeles television station KTLA has hired former KCBS executives Patricia Tang and Nancy Caldwell to help run its sales operations, TVNewser reports. In addition to Tang and Caldwell, who will be general sales manager and local sales manager, respectively, KTLA has tapped former KCAL executive Troy Arce to be a local sales manager, TVNewser says.
—Danny King

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HBO’s 'True Blood' Ratings Swell

Ratings for Sunday’s episode of HBO drama “True Blood” was up 63% from the season premiere’s ratings, Broadcasting & Cable says, drawing 2.35 million viewers in live plus same-day data. The show is averaging about 6.4 million viewers, including replays on HBO on Demand and on digital video recorders, B&C reports.
—Danny King

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FCC Looks Into Cable, Verizon Pricing

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin said he’s looking into the pricing practices of cable companies like Comcast and Time Warner Cable as well as Verizon, the Associated Press reports. Martin says the multichannel service operators may be confusing customers by linking the U.S. switchover to digital broadcasts with pitches to upgrade analog customers to digital cable, the wire service says.
—Danny King

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Analyst: DirecTV Q3 Growth Slowed

DirecTV’s third-quarter subscriber growth slowed 20% from a year earlier due to spending cutbacks on higher-end television services, Multichannel News reports, citing Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett. Slowing growth at satellite TV providers like DirecTV, which reports earnings this week, will mirror the slowing growth in digital satellite Internet customers, Multichannel News reports, citing Moffett.
—Danny King

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Media Gears for Young 'Tonight' Viewers

Media buyers and advertisers are preparing for the audience of NBC's "Tonight Show" to get younger once Conan O'Brien replaces Jay Leno as host next year, Advertising Age reports. The show's future audience is likely to more resemble those who watch Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" while older viewers may move over to David Letterman's show on CBS, AdAge says.
—Danny King

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Media Companies Sought for Ideas

Consumer-products giants such as Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson are starting to skip one step in the creative process by enlisting media companies for new ideas on ways to sell its goods, Advertising Age reports. Such efforts follow last month's statement from Charles Schwab Chief Marketing Officer Becky Saeger that advertising agencies are "almost in the way sometimes," AdAge says.
—Danny King

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FCC Denies Fox Affiliate DTV Waiver

The Federal Communications Commission denied WSMH-DT, Fox’s affiliate in Flint, Mich., a waiver from the regulator’s requirement for the station to prove its digital signal strength, Broadcasting & Cable says. The station, which also broadcasts into Canada, says its signal strength is insufficient and it needs to move towers; the FCC says the station’s signal reaches almost all of its analog coverage area, B&C reports.
—Danny King

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NBC’s Gregory, FCC’s Martin at DTV Event

February’s switchover to all-digital broadcasts will be commemorated Nov. 10 with an event hosted by NBC’s David Gregory that will include Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin and NAB Chief Executive Officer David Rehr, Radio Business Report says. Univision chief Joe Uva and Consumer Electronics Association President Gary Shapiro are among other industry executives that will participate in the event, RBR reports.
—Danny King

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NFL’s Goodell Lays Block for Network

National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a letter to Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., defending the programming policies of the NFL Network, the Associated Press reports. U.S. senators have said the network, which is available in fewer than 40% of U.S. homes, doesn’t reach enough households, while the league has blamed major cable companies that don’t carry the channel, the wire service reports.
—Danny King

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Customers Speed Switchover Effort

U.S. households sped up their effort to prepare for next February’s switchover to all-digital broadcasts by either buying digital televisions or acquiring digital subscriptions or digital-to-analog converter boxes, Multichannel News says, citing Nielsen. The percentage of so-called “unready” U.S. households fell to 7.7% last month from 8.4% in September, marking the largest single-month decline in six months, Multichannel News reports, citing the research firm.
—Danny King

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Netflix Adds HD to Roku Box by Year End

Netflix will add about 300 high-definition titles to its inventory that can be streamed directly to televisions through the Roku set-top box, Video Business reports. Netflix is enacting a similar “soft launch” of HD streaming titles through Microsoft’s Xbox 360 videogame console, the magazine says.
—Danny King

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Discovery Taps Turner’s Schwab

Discovery Channel tapped Turner Broadcasting programming executive Ken Schwab to oversee its programming starting next year, Multichannel News says. Schwab helped boost ratings among younger adults by adding comedies such as “Family Guy” and “My Name Is Earl” at Turner’s TBS network and adding popular series such as “Bones” and “Cold Case” at Turner’s TNT, Multichannel News reports.
—Danny King

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Showrunner Kring Tries to Save 'Heroes'

"Heroes" showrunner Tim Kring will try to pull the NBC drama out of its ratings slump by being more involved in simplifying the show’s story lines, Daily Variety reports. Kring, who let executive producers Jesse Alexander and Jeph Loeb go over the weekend, has been diverted from some of the writing duties by the show's large cast and post-production requirements, the newspaper says.
—Danny King

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NBC Wants to Move 'Runway' Case

NBC Universal is requesting that its "Project Runway" breach-of-contract lawsuit against the Weinstein Co. be moved back to a New York state court from a federal court, Multichannel News says. NBC, which says Weinstein failed to gave the network first right of refusal before moving the reality series to Lifetime Television, originally filed the lawsuit in the New York Supreme Court in April, Multichannel News reports. Lifetime in October removed the case from state court to federal court by filing a copyright claim, which comes under U.S. jurisdiction.
—Danny King

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HBO Gets in the 'Ring' With Boxing Series

HBO is starting a Web series "Ring Life," which follows eight young boxers, Broadcasting & Cable reports. The series, whose four- to six-minute segments will debut weekly on sites such as HBO.com and HBO's YouTube channel, will be narrated by Jim Lampley, B&C says.
—Danny King

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Networks Aim to Top 2004 Election

More than 55 million people watched the 2004 presidential election on the top television news networks combined. This year, the broadcast and cable outlets are introducing new features to top that number today, the Wall Street Journal says. Last time around, NBC was the top broadcaster with 15 million viewers and Fox News on cable drew 8 million. New technologies for this year's coverage include virtual reality studios at NBC, Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network, and a 3-D hologram at CNN, the Journal notes.
—Greg Baumann

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CBS Ponders Calling Election Early

CBS News may preliminarily call a winner in the presidential election as early as 8 p.m. East Coast, before polls there close, if Democrat Barack Obama or Republican John McCain clear the minimum threshold of electoral votes, the New York Times says. The danger of relying on exit poll data and early returns was demonstrated when early data indicated John Kerry would beat George Bush in 2004, and in 2000 when the election stretched weeks after polls closed. The Times quotes CBS News SVP Paul Friedman as saying he could imagine anchor Katie Couric saying, "Given what we know about the results, or the projected results in various states, it's beginning to look like it will be very difficult for John McCain to put together enough votes to win this election" or similar phrasing, the Times reports.
—Greg Baumann

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After Election, Better TV Ratings?

Struggling broadcast television shows may get some relief after the election as viewers drift away from addictive news coverage of the presidential race, the Hollywood Reporter says. Cable news has drawn more viewers in the pre-election mania and often viewing habits return to normal after a big news event, the Reporter cites Katz Television Group's Bill Carroll as saying. New shows may benefit more than slow-starting programs from this fall, the Reporter notes.
—Greg Baumann

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Viacom Profit, Sales Decline on Ratings

Viacom Inc., whose cable networks include MTV and VH1, reported a 37% drop in profit for the third quarter due to lower ratings and a softening economy, Television Week reports. The company posted net profit of $401 million, or 65 cents a share while revenue edged up 4% to $3.4 billion. Domestic advertising revenue fell 3%, a drop the company attributed to ratings softness at the MTV, VH1 and BET channels, TVWeek says. The company also said sales were damped by lower spending in some ad categories such as automotive.
—Greg Baumann

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Schwarzenegger Seeks TV Tax Breaks

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger wants millions in tax breaks to lure television and movie companies to film in California, the Los Angeles Times reports. The legislature in the past has rejected similar proposals, calling them unneeded giveaways. The new proposal would cost the state about $100 million a year, the Los Angeles Times says. The administration cites migration out of the state of production of shows including ABC's "Ugly Betty" as evidence the incentives are needed, the Times notes.
—Greg Baumann

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NBC Digital Boss Stepping Down

NBC Universal's chief digital officer George Kliavkoff is stepping down from his post by the end of the year, Daily Variety reports. Kliavkoff, who was behind the company's digital ventures like Hulu and online summer Olympics coverage, is exercising an option in his contract to leave early. He says "much of my work here is done," the trade reports.
—Sergio Ibarra

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High Court Weighs Indecency Case

The Supreme Court today hears arguments by television networks that challenged the Federal Communications Commission's so-called "fleeting expletives" rule in a brace of indecency cases, the Wall Street Journal notes. A federal appeals court had struck down the FCC policy that found even a fleeting expletive uttered on broadcast airwaves was a violation and the Bush administration wants the high court to reinstate it, the Journal reports. The case originated when U2 singer Bono in accepting a Golden Globe award in a 2003 Fox broadcast said in gratitude, "This is really, really f------ brilliant!" the Journal notes.
—Greg Baumann

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Return of the 'King' on ABC?

ABC may pick up Fox's recently canceled animated series "King of the Hill," Daily Variety reports. ABC executives are believed to have expressed interest in the show from executive producers Mike Judge, John Alyschuler and Dave Krinsky, who are also behind the network's upcoming animated show "The Goode Family," the trade says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Sci Fi Wins Halloween Ratings

A special six-hour live Halloween edition of "Ghost Hunters" drew 2.1 million total viewers on Friday night, making Sci Fi Channel the most-watched cable entertainment network for the night, Broadcasting & Cable reports. The special wrapped up the network's 250 hours of Halloween-themed programming during its "31 days of Halloween," the trade says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Fox TV Studios Tries 'Defying Gravity'

Fox Television Studios is teaming up with foreign production companies for a new project, "Defying Gravity," about a team of international astronauts on a mission through the solar system, the Hollywood Reporter says. Other companies on board include Canada's CTV, Germany's ProSieben and the BBC, the trade says. Ron Livingston is set to star, with production scheduled to begin in January in Vancouver.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Hallmark Chooses 'Think Again' Talent

Lauren Holly, Jennifer Westfeldt and David Sutcliffe have been tapped to star in the Hallmark Channel original movie "Think Again," scheduled to debut on Valentine's Day, the Hollywood Reporter says. Sutcliffe will play a man who goes back in time to help heal Westfeldt's broken heart after a bad previous experience at the altar, the trade says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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'24' Premiere Goes Four Hours

Fox will premiere its season of '24' with two two-hour episodes on Jan. 11 and Jan. 12 before returning to regular programming the following week, Daily Variety reports. The network on Nov. 23 will air the two-hour "24: Redemption," which will bring viewers current after the writers strike-preempted season six, which ended a year and a half ago, the newspaper says.
—Danny King

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Fox Workers Scrooged on Party

Fox parent News Corp. has canceled its annual holiday party at New York's Manhattan Hilton, perhaps signaling the effect of the economic downturn on TV companies, TVNewser reports. News Corp. reports fiscal first-quarter earnings later this week.
—Danny King

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Starz Gets TV Rights From IFC

Starz Entertainment acquired cable television broadcast rights from studios that include Lionsgate, IFC and Samuel Goldwyn Co. to premier films such as the Javier Bardem-starring "Goya's Ghost" and "P2," starring Rachel Nichols and Wes Bentley, Multichannel News says. Starz also got the rights from Hallmark to air classic films such as "Rear Window" and "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," Multichannel News reports.
—Danny King

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Google, Yahoo Make Ad-Deal Concessions

Google and Yahoo amended their advertising partnership to shrink the scale of the agreement, a move aimed to appease regulators concerned about antitrust violations, the Associated Press says, citing people familiar with the process. The two Internet giants shortened the length of the deal while limiting Yahoo's search-advertising revenue from Google, among other concessions, the wire service reports.
—Danny King

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'Grey's' Brooke Smith Cut From Show

Brooke Smith from "Grey's Anatomy" has been cut from the show, signaling that ABC may have been uncomfortable with the direction a story line involving her character's lesbian relationship was going, Entertainment Weekly reports. Smith, whose Dr. Erica Hahn was developing a love affair with the character played by Sara Ramirez, may have been let go because the network, and not show creator Shonda Rhimes, "had issues" with the relationship, the magazine says, citing people familiar with the process it didn't identify.
—Danny King

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Sacramento TV’s Gene Nelson Dies at 87

Gene Nelson, who hosted Sacramento’s first locally produced television show in 1953, has died at age 87, the Monterey Herald reports. “Sacramento Varieties,” which premiered on what’s now Fox 40, was the first of a handful of entertainment shows hosted by Nelson, the newspaper says.
—Danny King

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‘CSI: NY’ Maintains Syndication Strength

CBS’ “CSI: New York” is continuing the franchise’s success in its first year of syndication, beating ratings for NBC Universal’s “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” for the week ended Oct. 19, Broadcasting & Cable reports. The New York and Miami versions of “CSI” have both been renegotiated to air in weekend syndication on A&E, B&C says.
—Danny King

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CW’s Female Focus Has Worked

The CW’s focus on attracting younger female viewers with shows such as “Gossip Girl,” “One Tree Hill” and “90210” has been successful amid the expected audience dropoff from the disappearance of “Friday Night Smackdown,” Mediaweek reports. Still, ratings on many nights continue to falter as the viewership for shows such as “America’s Top Model” and “Smallville” shrink, Mediaweek says.
—Danny King

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Age Affects Downloads, Not DVR Usage

Internet downloading differs substantially among age groups, while use of digital-video recorders does not, the Hollywood Reporter says, citing a study by ABI Research. Consumers in their 30s are four times as likely to watch video on their mobile phones as people 20 years older, the newspaper reports, citing ABI.
—Danny King

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Court Won’t Release Profanity Case Tapes

The U.S. Supreme Court refused C-SPAN’s request to release oral arguments from last week related to a profanity case pitting the Federal Communications Commission against Fox and other broadcasters, Broadcasting & Cable says. Some media outlets have reported that the court won’t release the tapes because it doesn’t want to distract from tomorrow’s presidential election, B&C reports.
—Danny King

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Phillie Expletive Curses Broadcasters

An expletive uttered by Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley before an adoring crowd at a championship celebration last week caused local media outlets covering the event to apologize almost immediately after the profanity made it on air despite a tape delay of several seconds, the Philadelphia Enquirer reports. Utley’s remark about the Major League Baseball team being “world f****** champions” made it on air on all of the city’s major broadcast TV affiliates as well as some radio stations, the newspaper says.
—Danny King

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Ad Firm Owners Cut Back Despite Profits

WPP Group leads a group of advertising agency owners that are bracing for advertising cutbacks by enacting hiring freezes, travel reductions and layoffs despite reporting third-quarter revenue and profit increases, Advertising Week reports. Ominicom Group and Interpublic Group also are taking a cautious financial approach because of what Omnicom Chief Executive John Wren called a “very unusual capital markets environment,” AdWeek says.
—Danny King

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Media Buyers Praise CBS, Pan NBC

Media buyers say CBS’s “The Mentalist” has helped the network challenge ABC in adult-viewing leadership, while disappointing ratings for “Heroes” have disrupted NBC’s efforts to bring younger viewers to shows like “Chuck” and “My Own Worst Enemy,” Mediaweek reports. Additionally, Fox has performed inconsistently despite highly rated shows such as “House” and “Bones,” Mediaweek says.
—Danny King

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Web Users Multitask by Watching TV

Internet users are among the most active television watchers, suggesting that Web surfing may not be taking people away from the TV, Reuters reported, citing a Nielsen study. About a third of Internet usage in North America is conducted while the television is on, while the typical consumer spends about five hours watching TV for every hour on the Web, the wire service says.
—Danny King

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Circuit City to Close 155 U.S. Stores

Circuit City will close 155 U.S. stores, which employ about 17% of the company’s domestic workforce, as part of an effort to free up cash, the Associated Press reports. The No. 2 U.S. electronics retailer after Best Buy also will cut back on store openings and will try to renegotiate existing leases with landlords, the wire service says.
—Danny King

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Democrats May Push Fairness Doctrine

Democrats, poised for congressional gains and a possible presidential win, may revive the Fairness Doctrine, which would force broadcasters to give equal time to each side of a controversial subject, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing some statements by conservative pundits on Web logs and radio shows. While Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s campaign has denied intentions of enforcing such a doctrine, some Republicans have said he would do little to stop the measure, which was borne out of the Federal Communications Commission’s efforts in the 1950s to ensure the airwaves would be used for the public good and was denounced in the 1980s as limiting free speech, the Journal says.
—Danny King

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Kansas Stations Get Live Football Streams

Four Kansas television stations will offer pay-per-view broadcasts of live video streams of two high school football championship games on Nov. 29, Broadcasting & Cable reports. GrandStadium TV will charge $9.95. Stations in Kansas City, Topeka and Joplin-Pittsburgh have all agreed to stream the games, B&C says.
—Danny King

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Comedy Central Crashes NY's 'Mansion'

Comedy Central will use New York's BLVD/Crash Mansion nightclub as a live venue to preview and showcase some of its on-screen performers, Daily Variety reports. The venue, which the network will use similarly to Los Angeles' Comedy Central Stage, will host events featuring Jessi Klein from VH1's "Best Week Ever" and Greg Giraldo, the newspaper says.
—Danny King

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Teen Pregnancy Linked to Racy Shows

Teenagers who watch racy television shows are more likely to be involved with pregnancies, the Associated Press reports, citing a Rand Corp. study. Teenage boys and girls who regularly watched shows such as "Friends," "That '70s Show" and "Sex and the City" were twice as likely to either get pregnant or get a girl pregnant, compared with teens who rarely watched such series, the wire service says, citing the study.
—Danny King

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'Peanuts' Webisodes Put on iTunes

About 20 new "Peanuts" Webisodes have been created and will be sold on Apple's iTunes service, the Associated Press reports. The three- to four-minute clips, created by Warner Bros. Motion Comics and done with the blessing of creator Charles Schulz's widow, Jeannie, are based on comic strips from 1964 and have the same visual style as the classic "Peanuts" television specials, the wire service says.
—Danny King

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Redstones Split on Paying Debt

Sumner Redstone and his daughter Shari are likely to have different ideas about how to resolve the debt problems at the family holding company, National Amusements, which owns controlling interests in CBS and Viacom, the Wall Street Journal says. Mr. Redstone has ruled out selling more CBS and Viacom stock and Ms. Redstone is unlikely to want to sell the movie theater chain she has been working to upgrade. Other options are selling a stake in National Amusements or selling one of Mr. Redstone’s other companies to raise cash, the newspaper says. Redstone is also having problems with his video game company Midway Games, the New York Times says.
--Jon Lafayette

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Networks Expand Newscasts

The broadcast networks plan to expand their evening newscasts to an hour on Monday, the eve of an election that has captured the nation's attention, TelevisionWeek says. The move is likely to draw higher ratings by capitalizing on viewer interest in all things political this season. But it will play havoc with syndicated programming. "The whole week will be thrown off," said Bill Carroll, Katz Television Group's VP and director of programming. Meanwhile the networks will be spending big on new technology on Election night, but the first order of business is simply to get the results right, the Los Angeles Times says.
-- Jon Lafayette

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CBS Shows Attracting Younger Viewers

CBS, the oldest-skewing network, is attracting more younger viewers this year with some of its newest shows including "The Mentalist," the New York Times says. The bad economy appears to be good for CBS' comfort-food brand of programming. "It's kind of cliche," says CBS CEO Les Moonves says, but "on CBS the good guys win."
-- Jon Lafayette

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'Heroes' Producers Zapped

Jesse Alexander and Jeph Loeb, two of the original writers/executive producers on "Heroes," have been axed in a shakeup of the staff on the struggling NBC show, Daily Variety says. The network is frustrated by the show's creative direction and overruns on the program's hefty $4 million per episode budget, the newspaper says.
-- Jon Lafayette

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McCain Campaigns for Laughs on 'SNL'

Presidential candidate John McCain shared the spotlight with Tina Fey as she impersonated his running mate, Sarah Palin, in the opening sketch on "Saturday Night Live," the Associated Press reports. Days after Barack Obama ran an infomercial on several major networks, McCain and Palin were shown making their pitch on QVC. McCain made "maverick" jokes and Fey, as Palin, was getting ready to hawk "Palin 2012" T-shirts during the skit. Rather than returning to Alaska, "I'm either running in four years or I'm going to be a white Oprah," said Fey as Palin. The appearance helped "SNL" draw its second best overnight ratings since 1997, TelevisionWeek says.
-- Jon Lafayette

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Obama Advantage in Daytime, Late Night

Daytime talk shows and late night comedy shows have shown more interest in politics and that's been good for Democrat Barack Obama, the Washington Post says. "Anyone can watch the shows and see how Barack Obama and John McCain were treated and see the contrast. It's as plain as day," McCain spokesman Michael Goldfarb tells the paper.
-- Jon Lafayette

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CBS Buys Fleiss Reality Project

CBS has ordered seven episodes of a new reality-competition program from Mike Fleiss, who also produces “The Bachelor,” TelevisionWeek says. The series will feature families from the same neighborhood who compete for cash prizes.
-- Jon Lafayette

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Fox NFL Crew Takes Time to Sell Trucks

Fox's NFL studio show stopped talking football while one of the network's NASCAR announcers, Jeff Hammond, checked in to pitch a new Ford truck on the broadcast, USA Today reports. Football analysts Michael Strahan and Terry Bradshaw jumped in to demonstrate the truck's attributes. But Howie Long didn't—he has a deal to sell Chevy trucks, the paper notes.
-- Jon Lafayette

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'Flip This House' Suit Starts

The South Carolina real estate broker who brought the idea for "Flip This House" to A&E Television is getting his day in court, the Los Angeles Times reports. Richard C. Davis claims A&E agreed to give him half the show's revenue and is seeking $30 million from a jury in Charleston. A&E denies such a promise. After 13 episodes were produced A&E and Davis had a falling out. A&E got new brokers to appear on the program, and Davis took his show idea to TLC, which aired "The Real Deal" for one season, the paper says.
-- Jon Lafayette

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NBC Takes 'Positions'; FX Eyes 'Staten Island'

"Meet the Parents" co-writer Jim Herzfeld is developing a comedy project "Changing Positions" for NBC, the Hollywood Reporter says. The project, from Universal Media Studios and Dutch Oven, follows a man and his family as they move in with his very sexually active parents. Herzfeld will serve as executive producer along with Doug Liman and David Bartis. Meanwhile, the Reporter says FX is developing a drama project “Staten Island” from “West Wing” writer and executive producer Lawrence O’Donnell. If picked up, the New York police project would serve as a "successor” to "The Shield," which ends its run on FX later this month, the trade paper says.
—Sergio Ibarra

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Russert's Job Still Open

Tom Brokaw is about to step out of the big shoes left behind by the death of "Meet the Press" host Tim Russert and media types in Washington are dying to find out who will replace him, the New York Times says. Chuck Todd? David Gregory? Gwen Ifill? Even Katie Couric's name is tossed into the mix by the Times.
-- Jon Lafayette

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MySpace to Sell Ads on Viacom Clips

MySpace hopes a new technology that scans for copyrighted material among the clips on its site will enable it to sell advertising against professional content, the Wall Street Journal says. News Corp.’s MySpace is working with Viacom’s MTV Networks on the system. MTV sees it as a way to make money when consumers post videos produced by MTV, Mika Salmi of MTV Networks tells the paper.
-- Jon Lafayette

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'MNF' Scoring Big for ESPN

Ratings are up halfway through the season for ESPN's "Monday Night Football," Daily Variety reports. A cleaner graphics package, new on-air replay technology and the decision to eliminate in-booth celebrity guests and most sideline reports has paid off in a stronger product, the trade paper says.
-- Jon Lafayette

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Nine More for 'Kath & Kim'

NBC has ordered nine more episodes of "Kath & Kim" despite the sitcom's low ratings so far, TelevisionWeek says. "'Kath & Kim' is a show we love and believe in," Terri Weinberg, executive VP for NBC Entertainment, says.
-- Jon Lafayette

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For Newsies, Campaign Road Ends

As the campaign ends, television news staffers who have been trailing the candidates as they criss-crossed the nation are getting ready to settle back into a less exciting real life, the New York Times reports. "For so long, this has been in the distance. Now it's real, now it's here," Alexander Marquardt, a CNN producer following Sen. Joseph R. Biden, says of Election Day and the conclusion of his assignment.
-- Jon Lafayette

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Comcast, AT&T in Fight for Chicago

AT&T is taking on Comcast in Chicago by offering a bundle of phone TV and high-speed Internet service at monthly rates below those of the nation’s largest cable operator, Crain's Chicago Business says. "It's going to come down to who can give you the best deal," telecommunications consultant Stu Chapman tells the paper. AT&T's "U-verse could really cut into" Comcast's subscriber base.
-- Jon Lafayette

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RCN Goes Digital to Battle Cable Giants

RCN is looking to challenge both established cable operators and video newcomers like Verizon by offering more digital television channels, the Washington Post reports. "We can leapfrog both of them," Peter D. Aquino, CEO of RCN, tells the paper. "They're not as locally focused. They can be beat." A Comcast spokeswoman tells the paper it's not sweating RCN. "We compete for customers every day," she says.
-- Jon Lafayette

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Fans Wait to Meet 'Your Mother'

In its fourth season, viewers of the CBS sitcom "How I Met Your Mother" still are waiting for the main character to meet his future bride, USA Today says. The producer says they have had a plan since the start and a good idea of how they'll reveal the woman's identity. A couple of years ago, they even shot a scene with the two children "for an important moment later in the series," they tell the paper. The series is the youngest-skewing show on CBS.
-- Jon Lafayette

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Different Choices by News Nets on Saturday

The New York Times compares and contrasts offbeat new Saturday night shows on CNN and Fox News Channel featuring hosts that haven’t been newsmen before. CNN has a comedian hosting "D.L. Hughley Breaks the News," while former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee stars in "Huckabee" on Fox News. "Neither is in the same league as Jon Stewart or David Letterman, but they earn points for collegiality," the Times says.
-- Jon Lafayette

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'L&O' Looks to Outlast 'Gunsmoke'

With the addition of several young cast members, creator Dick Wolf is priming "Law & Order," entering its 19th season on NBC, to catch up to and pass "Gunsmoke" as the longest-running drama in prime-time history, the Associated Press reports. Ratings were up 19% in Season 18, and Wolf is trying to keep the series fresh. "He changed the look of the show, he changed the way it's lit, he changed the way it's shot and the way it's edited, but not so that you go, 'Oh, this is not the same show.' But it's all refreshed," Sam Waterston, whose character on the show has been promoted to district attorney, tells the wire service.
-- Jon Lafayette

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Carson's Lawyer Spilling Beans

"Bombastic Bushkin," as Johnny Carson used to refer to him during his monologues, is getting ready to tell tales about his late client in book he's shopping to publishers, according to the New York Post. He says Carson cheated on his wives, was tormented by his mom and refused to visit his son when he was hospitalized with emotional problems. "He was the saddest guy I ever knew," Henry Bushkin tells the paper.
-- Jon Lafayette

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