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Mar 14, 2001  •  Post A Comment

O’Reilly gets $24 million Fox News contract

The cable news world has a new salary king. Fox News has signed Bill O’Reilly to a new six-year contract reportedly worth a minimum of $24 million to continue hosting Fox News Channel’s “The O’Reilly Factor.” The deal includes hefty incentive bonuses as well as components that propose to capitalize on Mr. O’Reilly’s popularity, with the option for a radio show, a series of prime-time specials on the Fox Broadcasting network and appearances on “Fox News Sunday.”

Reportedly not part of the new deal is the late-night broadcast show that has been in discussion with Twentieth Television for Mr. O’Reilly, who also has begun work on the sequel to his best-selling book, “The O’Reilly Factor.”

If Mr. O’Reilly meets all his performance bonuses, he’s set to rake in more than Larry King, CNN’s $7 million-a-year standard bearer who is now being regularly eclipsed in the ratings by Mr. O’Reilly. Mr. O’Reilly’s Fox News contract was set to expire at the end of November.

Varney exits CNN: “Moneyline” co-anchor Stuart Varney’s on-again, off-again career at CNN ended abruptly Wednesday when the all-news network accepted Mr. Varney’s resignation after he had been absent from CNN’s signature financial news show all week.

Stories on the business pages of New York’s two daily tabloids Wednesday morning attributed Mr. Varney’s no-show to outrage at Ted Turner’s recent characterization of Christians as “Jesus freaks”-a comment that later produced an apology from Mr. Turner, who founded CNN but is only peripherally involved in its management these days.

However, numerous sources say Mr. Varney’s religiosity was less important in what happened than his lack of involvement in “Moneyline” and off-camera displays of anger.

Mr. Varney had left CNN after 18 years in 1998 but returned in 1999 hoping to become the face of financial news on CNN after Lou Dobbs left in a flurry of headlines.

Mr. Varney’s West Coast co-anchor, Willow Bay, will host “Moneyline” from New York next week. “We look forward to having her anchor more frequently out of the New York bureau,” CNN said.

Bunting exec VP at Discovery: Discovery Communications Wednesday appointed Clark Bunting as executive vice president and general manager of the Discovery Channel, replacing Mike Quattrone. Mr. Quattrone, who joined Discovery in 1991, is leaving at the end of March to pursue other interests.

Mr. Bunting was formerly vice president and general manager of Discovery’s sister channel Animal Planet. He will retain his Animal Planet responsibilities on an interim basis until a replacement can be named. Discovery’s executive change comes on the heels of its executive realignment last month.

Under its new corporate structure, each Discovery general manager now reports to John Ford, who was promoted to president of Discovery’s newly formed Content Group. In other Discovery news, Discovery Communications signed a $700 million private placement deal. Discovery officials say the money will be used mainly to pay down the company’s bank debt.

Somers dismisses rumors: There has been talk that AT&T Chairman Michael Armstrong wants Dan Somers’ job. Mr. Somers, the CEO of AT&T Broadband, told a Cable Laboratories’ audience Wednesday in Los Angeles, “I’m thrilled that a lot of folks want my job. I’ll be here as long as they and I want me to be. Everything else is bullshit.”

Regarding the reality of digital rollout, he said that this year AT&T Broadband would be concentrating on improving what they have rather than making more inroads in capital spending.

“The stockholders are asking, ‘Where are the returns on all that capital?'”

Seinfeld booked on ‘Letterman’: Jerry Seinfeld’s first stand-up comedy performance on TV since his HBO special in 1998 has been booked for March 21 on “Late Show With David Letterman.” It will be Mr. Seinfeld’s 42nd appearance on Mr. Letterman’s late-night stage.

ABC, PBS top Daytime Emmy list: ABC and PBS earned 53 Daytime Emmy nominations each to tie for the top spot on the list released Wednesday in New York by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. CBS earned a total of 51 nominations, followed by Showtime (19), NBC (14), Nickelodeon and The WB (seven each), American Movie Classics (five), Comedy Central (four), Discovery Channel, Disney Channel and MTV (three each), and Food Network and VH1 (two each). E! Entertainment Television, Fox, Fox Family Channel, The History Channel, HBO Family, Romance Classics and the Learning Channel each snared one nomination.

The most nominated soap is CBS’s “As the World Turns” with 25, followed by ABC’s “All My Children” with 21. The most nominated talk show: “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” with 13, followed by ABC’s “The View” with 11. Regis Philbin has a stake in a total of 10 nominations between “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” (seven) and “Live With Regis” (three).

The 28th annual Daytime Emmys will be handed out at Radio City Music Hall on Friday, May 18, in a two-hour ceremony broadcast live at 9 p.m. (ET) on NBC. Daytime’s creative-craft Emmys will be handed out Saturday, May 12, in ceremonies at New York’s Marriott Marquis Hotel and Los Angeles’ Sheraton Universal Hotel.

Study spotlights glass ceiling: Only 13 percent of the top executives and 9 percent of the board members of media, telecommunications and e-companies are women, according to a study released Wednesday by the Annenberg Public Policy Center. The study also said no women employed by network news companies are of executive vice president rank or higher. Also according to the study, only one woman had risen to the top echelons of other entertainment and media companies.

“Women represent a larger and larger share of the target users and audiences these companies are trying to reach, but women’s talents and life experiences are still underrepresented by company decision-makers,” the report said.

UPN plans regional meetings: UPN is replacing its annual affiliates convention with a week’s worth of regional meetings with affiliate owners and general managers. UPN executives will start their blitz in New York on June 5 and move the next day to Atlanta, followed by Chicago, Dallas and San Francisco.

UPN affiliates still have the option of attending the network’s May upfront presentation-which had been the centerpiece of previous affiliates conventions-or they can see the fall preview via a live closed-circuit feed.

The meetings announced Wednesday are in addition to UPN’s practice of regional gatherings with affiliate sales managers and account executives.

NBC and Fox also recently announced they had canceled their planned affiliates conventions in favor of regional gatherings.

Amorosino hitched to WHDH sports anchor post: Native Bostonian and sports reporter Joe Amorosino has been promoted to weekend sports anchor at NBC affiliate WHDH-TV, Boston. He starts anchoring this weekend. Mr. Amorosino joined WHDH three years ago from WPRI-TV, Providence, R.I.#