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Hollywood Notes

May 7, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Sorkin denies drug charges

Aaron Sorkin, creator and executive producer of NBC’s hit series “The West Wing,” pleaded not guilty last week to charges of possessing hallucinogenic mushrooms, marijuana and rock cocaine.

Mr. Sorkin, 39, entered his plea before a Burbank, Calif., court commissioner, who continued the case for a June 4 court date. The court commissioner said it will be determined whether Mr. Sorkin, who is free on $10,000 bail, is eligible for a drug diversion program.

Mr. Sorkin was arrested at Burbank Airport on April 15 after security officers found what they said was a bag of drugs in his luggage. He has been charged with two felony counts of drug possession (mushrooms and rock cocaine) and a single misdemeanor count (marijuana).

Gervase `Turns’ to role on soap

Gervase Peterson, one of the cast members of CBS’s original “Survivor,” will appear in the long-running CBS daytime drama “As the World Turns” on May 8 and 9. Mr. Peterson will play the role of Leo Thompson, the biological father of Curtis Thompson (Chad Tucker), whom Dr. Ben Harris (Peter Parros) is trying to adopt.

Thurston forms media partnership

With a mind to capitalize on new opportunities in the quickly consolidating media industries, four veteran broadcast executives have opted to form a media partnership. Former Columbia TriStar Television Distribution president and current president of The Thurston Group, Barry Thurston will join former Spartan Communications figures Nick Evans, Jack West and Steve Castellaw to form Associated Media Partners, LLC, which will offer services to station and group owners including brokerage, appraisal, management and consulting services. The company will have offices in Atlanta and Los Angeles.

Mackay promoted in Pearson shakeup

Pearson Television has promoted Catherine Mackay, previously president of Pearson Television Enterprises, to the new position of CEO of Pearson Television International and Enterprises. Ms. Mackay will also take on the role of deputy CEO of Pearson Television’s North American division, which syndicates the game shows “Family Feud,” “To Tell the Truth” and “Card Sharks.” And David Lyle has been promoted to the new position of president of entertainment for Pearson Television North America and will oversee all Pearson entertainment programming in the United States.

`Dharma’s’ karma includes renewal

ABC has negotiated a novel series renewal for 9 p.m. Tuesday sitcom “Dharma & Greg,” which gives the network options for two different license fee structures depending on whether it stays in the time period next season.

In a deal carved out with series producer 20th Century Fox Television, ABC would play $2.4 million to $2.6 million per episode if the series stays in the 9 p.m. Tuesday slot-opposite NBC’s hit “Frasier” sitcom-over a two-year term. But if ABC decides to move “Dharma” to another time period, sources say it could pay about $2 million per episode over a reduced one-year term for the 4-year-old sitcom.

E-Poll deal with Twentieth gives it EDGE

E-Poll, a leading provider of audience research and interactive tools for the entertainment industry, has entered an agreement with Twentieth Television and Carsey-Werner-Mandabach Distribution to develop The EDGE-a new service that provides polling applications, emphasizing in-depth tools to rapidly poll consumers and data mine responses for timely market data. The service will provide syndicated research targeted to entertainment executives, researchers, marketers, agents, programmers and advertising agencies, giving them 24/7 Web-based access to comprehensive and current industry information, audience analysis, trends and attitudinal data.