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Briefly Noted

Apr 16, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Dobbs planning return to CNN
At a news conference in New York last week, Time Warner brass welcomed Lou Dobbs back into the CNN fold nearly two years after he left to run Space.com.
Starting May 14, Mr. Dobbs will be the solo anchor of “Moneyline,” the signature show that in his time was CNN’s biggest revenue magnet but which has since been eclipsed by competition on CNBC. Mr. Dobbs will also be managing editor of “Moneyline” and a columnist for CNNfn.com and will help develop a show he will host for CNNfn, the business-news network that will be revamped later this year as CNN Money.
Willow Bay, who has been anchoring “Moneyline” alone in New York since Stuart Varney quit last month, will be reassigned to “upcoming series, specials and other high-profile reporting assignments” from her base on the West Coast.
Roadshow adds broadcast, cable acts
Roadshow, a k a Hollywood’s upfront, is adding broadcast and cable networks to its customary Hollywood film studio presentations for assembled marketers and advertisers. The event’s name becomes a misnomer this year too. For the past three annual editions, Roadshow took to the road with daylong clip and promo fests in New York and Chicago in addition to Los Angeles, with eight Hollywood studios wooing up to 500 potential marketers and tie-in partners in the three cities. This year all three days of the September event will be held in Los Angeles, according to Mitch Litvak, president of The L.A. Office, the promotions agency that puts on the event.
The 12 to 16 television networks and groups that Mr. Litvak expects will be touting the fall 2001 season’s back-end and shows in early development for fall 2002. The TV side, like the film side, is expected to focus on “key placement” opportunities for products inside programming.
Crown caps off purchase of movies
Crown Media Holdings, which owns and operates the Odyssey Network-soon to be rebranded as the Hallmark Channel-is acquiring 700 titles from the Hallmark Entertainment library of TV movies and miniseries in a deal worth about $820 million.
Under the terms of the agreement-which is expected to close by the end of June-Greenwood Village, Colo.-based Crown will assume $220 million of Hallmark Entertainment debt and payables. Crown also will issue Class A common stock to Hallmark Entertainment Distribution (HED) valued at $600 million, at a price based on the stock’s average over a recent period of about five months.
The HED library contains 1,100 titles.
Gemstar plans short shows, long-form projects
Gemstar-TV Guide International’s scrolling cable channel guide will introduce four 15-minute programs starting April 30 and showcase four long-form programs during the 2001-2002 season. Introduced last week at an upfront presentation to advertisers were “Hollywood Insider” for entertainment news; “The Screening Room,” hosted by Debbie Matenopoulos and Ken Taylor, for movies; “Music News,” hosted by Katie Wagner; and “TV Guide Best Bets,” which recommends what to watch in sports, pay-per-view and family programming.
TV Guide Channel will also debut a half-hour program this summer titled “What’s On,” which will provide insight into the night’s best programming fare. The show will air at 7 p.m. (ET) five nights a week.
Evans to leave CNN
One of CNN’s founding team members, Gail Evans, is leaving the all-news network this year. An announcement is expected soon that she is retiring. Ms. Evans, 60, was CNN’s head booker for years and last year was promoted to executive vice president.
Rules could allow Viacom to keep UPN
The FCC is expected to approve a change of regulations April 19 clearing the way for Viacom to keep the UPN network. UPN’s fate has been up in the air since Viacom acquired CBS last year because an agency rule expressly barred any of the Big 4 TV networks from buying each other or UPN or The WB.
But a majority of the commissioners have signaled their support for a rule change. Viacom also got a yearlong waiver, which runs out May 5, that has allowed it to keep UPN pending the vote on the rule change. The change in rules, according to sources, will continue to bar the Big 4 from merging with each other but will also clear the way for one of them to acquire The WB.